Basic Condition Reporting A Handbook
issued by the Southeastern Registrars Association
If a dealer or an auction catalog cites a condition issue and it cannot be remedied or the cost to fix the item exceeds the item’s price times three–do you want to acquire the item?
If you loan your artwork to a museum exhibition and it is returned with a condition issue that either can’t be corrected or its conservation will exceed the value of the item–will you understand the kind of problem you now have, especially when its new condition is downplayed or unintentionally overlooked?
It is one thing to have a work of paper archivally framed. It is another to have improper matting, mounting and backing replaced with archival materials. Step 1 is judging if the artwork first needs to be treated by a paper conservator.
This book’s chapter on Paintings and Frames provides the following observation options in a form to acquaint you with all potential issues involved:
SUPPORT: Slack, Buckling, Puncture/ Tear, Breaks/ Splits, Warp, Draw, Keys Missing, Other
GROUND & PAINT LAYERS/ SURFACE COATING: Abrasion, Accretion, Blister, Bloom, Chalking, Cleavage, Crackle, Cracks, Cupping, Dent, Discoloration, Flaking, Stretcher Crease, Other
LINER: Soiled, Tear, Losses, Disjointed Miters, Other
FRAME: Miters Loose, Wires & Screws Attached, Chipped, Cracked, Loose Pieces, Losses, Gesso or Finish Flaking, Other
Likewise defects in Works on Paper are:
Wrinkles, folds, cracks or creases; Tears; Fading; Darkening, Yellowing, Discoloration; Stains; Soil; Mold or Insect damage; Missing Parts, holes or thinning; Bulge, Warp, Cockle or Draw; Flaking or Chipping; Other
To really see firsthand what these condition issues look like, spend time and money, asking your conservator to show you what these issues look like. Years ago the American Society of Appraisers offered appraisers a week with a group of conservators addressing different types of artworks to visually acquaint art appraisers with different conservation issues. Put together a group of collectors and pay for a conservator’s time to bring you all up to speed with a face to face opportunity.
SavvyCollectors best understand condition issues at the onset, not when it is entirely too late.
Corinne Cain of SavvyCollector.com