Is this an Original Painting? Is it worth anything?

 Getting the best price for art when you are buying or selling a painting, print, collectible poster or art objects.

Seven North Art often receives calls from customers asking if it is possible to get them a better price on a certain original or print they want to buy. So we will complete a 'Research Summary' on your artwork and most of the time the results do yield a lower price. At Seven North Art, we will do the research free and whatever your summary reveals it is sent to you with all the details to help you get the best price or at least determine if the price is fair market value.

 Sometimes it's not about the value in monetary terms;  it can have great value for emotional reasons only. It might have been your mother's or their grandfather's, or a family heirloom which you want to keep but would like to find out more about the artist and the value of the art. So we go to work and do some research and let you know. If it turns out your art has real value and you decide to sell it, we can help.

 Seven North Art has 40 years in the business of finding both little and big treasures for resale and all customers can benefit from a research summary and our best advice. There is no charge for a Research Summary or our best advice!

 If the information on the artist turns out to show she or he has an auction record; Seven North has separate Investment Art division with offices in New York and Miami offering complete professional Art Appraisals and Fine Art Portfolio Management Services. Remember to gather all the paperwork you might have. Artist Bio, the Provenance, or the history of your artwork or a certificate of any kind and whether or not it was ever featured on a book cover or magazine. All of this can be extremely helpful.

There is a variety of other reasons you might want to know about the art you already own or art you are looking to buy or sell. You probably have some of the same questions we hear all the time.

 In most cases, the first few questions we usually hear at Seven North Art are usually these four:

1. "Can you tell me if this is an original painting?"

2. "I think it's some type of fine art print, how do I tell ?"  

3."How much do you think this art be worth; it is signed!"

4." How can I tell if the signature is real, and who is this artist?"

People are usually quite excited when there's a signature on the Painting, Print, poster or Sculpture.        

So if you do a little exploration first; which you might find quite interesting and find that learning more about art, increases your appreciation for what you have. If you are looking to purchase a work this will give you an outline and the information needed to determine the best price.

 In addition, it helps speed up the research summary. This is the first step to getting the information you need to determine exactly what you have and it's fair market value.      

Here are some basic tips to these four often asked questions.

1. Is this an original?

When it comes to paintings it would most commonly be on canvas or paper, other most common materials used for painting would be wood, Plexiglas, and metal.  To determine if it's a one of a kind original painting, first see if it's signed anywhere. Remember some artists put their signature on the back. If it's a sculpture, it will normally be very low on the front or underneath on the bottom. Then see if the signature looks printed or original by looking through a magnifying glass or preferably a loop with good lighting. Also, it is important to note the size and everything else you can find; take good photos of all like dates, initials, and any markings like editions numbers, maybe printers **Chop Mark or you might find a foundry logo on a sculpture or any art-object.  

                  An 8x Loop works great for seeing the whats what in art



                           This is an Offset Reproduction Under the Loop

Now get a strong light source (which could be the sun) and hold your art at an angle with the light on the opposite end or to the side and notice if you can see raised paint. If you do see the paint sticking up, it is probably oil paint and if you don't see texture it could be an Acrylic painting or a Giclee print reproduction.  You are a third of the way to knowing if it's an original. Now, turn the front of the art directly facing you and hold the back of the piece to the light; so you are on the painted side and the light is shining through the back. Standing behind it, see if it looks like number #1 below. If it does, you can be 99% sure you do not have an original. What you have is a hand-painted print on canvas.


#1                #2  

             Peter Pettegrew  Art Print hand-painted limited edition                                       

The condition of artwork it's highly important to the value so if you wanted to sell or keep it, you will have the information available. Remember to find any and all information you might have on your artwork. Do you have a Biography on the artist and the **Provenance or history of this painting was it ever used on a book cover or in a magazine?  What about if it was used as an event poster for a Museum, art show gallery opening, or music concert poster? All this can be helpful when buying or selling your art.

 Whether your art is painted on Canvas, paper or any other substrate, look for age look for scratches, rip's, cracks, or creases in the paint. As you examine the work see if you can tell it was ever over 'painted over' or touched up in areas where the paint appears brighter-fresher. It means that the painting probably has had damage sometime in its history. Again on the back, check for stains, aging brown marks, wear and tear and check the age from the wood stretcher bar.

If it's relatively new you'll see it right away. You'll know if it's fairly recent from the condition of the canvas and condition of the wood. A newer original on paper will be a little harder to identify but if it looks mint and pristine it is certainly a big possibility that it is less than twenty years old.

 Hopefully all this was interesting and maybe I have encouraged you to learn to appreciate and enjoy your artwork even more.  In addition, you now have a good basic foundation of how to find the rough value of any art. If you desire, Seven North Art will provide you with a Research Summary at no charge provided to help in the process of determining the true value of your artwork.

 However, please do not take any of this as an Appraisal or to use for any other purpose other than to learn and gain basic knowledge about artwork. 

For insurance purposes of replacement value or for a donation to a nonprofit or an institution like a museum, you will need a formal analysis and a professional appraisal. Seven North Art  has 39 years of experience and can  provide all this and more through our Investment Art offices in New York or Miami.

 Please let us know how we can serve your art needs,

Thank you,

James Cournoyer



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  • It sounds like you may have limited edition offset prints or giclees. The numbers 300 and 310 are the amount of reproductions the artist made of the original. Call us to set up an appointment and bring them in! We will look at them for you. You can also email us pictures if you are not local.

  • I have a Mike Hallinan (actually 2) pictures that I have had since the 1980’s. One is “Reflecting palms” while the other is a picture of a patio with a chair overlooking the Hotel Laguna in Laguna Beach. Both are poster type pictures. Reflecting Palms is numbered 261/310….
    The other the chair overlooking the Hotel Laguna is numbered 131/300…I want to sell both and I am wondering ..are these prints and why are they numbered…thanks..

    Nancy New

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