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Tips to Determine African Art Value & Authenticity

  • Look at the piece. Is it well carved, is the patina logical (worn at tops not in the holes). When you look with an magnifying glass there may not be parallel lines (from the emery paper). Is the style coherent. Compare it with similar pieces from Museums.
  • The ethnical provenance. Even of same quality, the art of different tribes can have huge price differences. E.G.: Luba has more value than Lobi.
  • Pedigree. A piece from a collector from the thirties has a bigger value than a similar piece which recently came out of the jungle. Even some very banal pieces from famous artists have reached very high prices. When the piece is published in a book or catalogue it is worth more, certainly if the piece was published a few time in famous exhibitions catalogs.
  • Fashion. Currently the fashion is for the aesthetics and decorative aspect of a piece with a shiny aspect. Collectors of modern art are more interested in the forms than in original patina and quality.
  • Conservation state: too much restoration decreases the value.
  • Rareness. Did you find that Guro statue?
  • Size does matter, most pieces are 40/50 cm. Bigger pieces go for more money, even of same quality.
  • Auction result prices and current exhibitions makes some Tribes more valuable when there is a record price.
  • When it is fresh on the market and from a Tribe with small production.
  • And last but not least the seller. A very well known gallery, artist, collector, may ask more than double the price than from an unknown merchant or someone who doesn't know what he is selling. But if you buy from a well known source you also have much better chances to get a better piece.

The above information reprinted courtesy of:
African Antiques Art

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Collecting African Art Resource

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