Happy 300th Birthday, Thomas Chippendale!

Chippendale Tercentenary: 1718 – 2018

The style of furniture referred to as Chippendale stems from an evolution of various styles in fashion in the last half of the 18th Century. The first ever to be named for a cabinetmaker rather than bearing the name of a reigning monarch, Chippendale eventually became the most famous name in the history of English furniture when this type of craftsmanship was at its high point.

Thomas Chippendale was born on June 4, 1718 in the market town of Otley, Yorkshire. He was apprenticed to his cabinetmaker father and later worked as a journeyman to Robert Wood of York. He later moved to London and established his own shop and workrooms.

The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director by Thomas Chippendale via the Internet Archive

In 1754 he published a book of designs titled The Gentlemen and Cabinet Maker’s Director. Under the title on the first page, Chippendale describes the book as:

“Being a Large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste and Other Ornaments…”

 A pattern book, Chippendale’s Director was used by many other cabinetmakers and the designs were adapted by artisans in England, on the European continent and in the American Colonies. The success of this book led to his reputation as one of the leading cabinetmakers of the 18th Century.

He published three editions in 1754, 1755 and 1762. Each edition revealed Chippendale’s designs evolving, reflecting changing British tastes and fashion. By the last edition, his designs began to exhibit signs of neo-classicism. This trend was influenced by the renewed interest in classical motifs such as columns, Acanthus leaves, fluting and Greek key. Particularly in the designs of architect Robert Adam with whom he worked on several projects, and the Palladian architecture of the early 18th Century.

The Director illustrated four main styles:

  • English with deep carving, the curved Cabriole leg often carved with shells, vines and leaves, and scrolls at the knee.
  • Elaborate French Rococo.
  • Chinese style, referred to as Chinoiserie, with latticework and lacquer, and on some case pieces, adorned with elaborate japanning.
  • Gothic with pointed arches, quatrefoils and fret-worked legs.

Chippendale intended his book as a catalogue where his wealthy clients could choose their preferred design elements from the various plates of illustrations. These pieces would then be custom-made for them in his workshop, or in the workshops of other artisan cabinetmakers.

Versatility was a hallmark of the firm of Thomas Chippendale. Not only was he a cabinetmaker, but he also functioned as an interior designer. Chippendale designed wallpaper, carpets, fire grates, decorative objects and complete room layouts. He rented furniture and did repairs. He even directed and furnished funerals for his clients.

Thomas Chippendale advised his clients on all manner of decor including the paint colors. His firm acted like a modern interior design firm coordinating with other specialists. Fully decorated rooms as well as entire houses were supplied. He furnished not only elegant state apartments, but servant’s quarters and offices were given his creative touch.

Chippendale used only the finest mahogany from the West Indies. He always used solid wood rather than employing veneers. The richest, most luxurious brocades, velvets and damasks were applied on upholstered pieces. A number of stately homes in England have been identified where Chippendale’s designs and furniture constructed in his workrooms are on view.

American cabinetmakers of the 18th Century were well-aware of Thomas Chippendale’s Director. The illustrated engravings inspired much of the best work done in the American Colonies. Newport, Boston, New York and Philadelphia were the predominant centers for craftsmen of Chippendale furniture.

There was usually a lag time of about 20 years between what was fashionable in Europe and when it appeared in America. Marvin D. Schwartz states in his book Chairs, Tables, Sofas and Beds: “The claw-and-ball foot was considered too old-fashioned to be included in Chippendale’s design illustrations, but it was a popular feature in American designs.”

Arthur Johnson, Chippendale Mahogany Side Chair, American, active c. 1935, 1936, watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design

Cabinetmakers adapted designs from popular Chinese imports with imaginative interpretations. The claw-and-ball foot was carved to represent a bird’s claw holding a ball. It was based on an image of a Chinese dragon’s claw holding a crystal jewel.

Queen Anne and Chippendale styles share many of the Rococo elements such as the Cabriole leg, so it can be difficult to distinguish between them. According to Marvin Schwartz: “American Chippendale furniture, whether simple or elaborate, was much lighter in its proportions than Queen Anne designs. Forms did not change much but became more ornamental.”

Thomas Chippendale adapted and blended earlier furniture styles, designs and decorative elements. The Chippendale style was dominant in American furniture until 1780-1785.

18th Century Chippendale furniture, particularly designs by renowned American cabinetmakers, commands very high prices. According to John Nye, Director of the American Furniture Department at Sotheby’s, New York: “…today’s collectors need to be cautious of any piece of Chippendale furniture that doesn’t have a four to seven figure price tag, especially for pieces made in Philadelphia. If it’s not appropriately priced, the dealer knows it’s not 18th Century.”

At auction, American Chippendale often brings higher prices than its English counterpart. As Schwartz states: “American Chippendale furniture was consistent and elegant—not merely a provincial adaptation of its English namesake.”

Original 18th Century antiques in fine condition are rare and usually not affordable for most people. For those who appreciate the Chippendale style, later reproductions of 1876, referred to as Centennial pieces, and the late Victorian era around 1900 are more readily available. These are still considered antiques, and though they may not be handcrafted with the fine details of original period furniture, they are a good and far less costly alternative for collectors who like this style.

300 years later, the Chippendale style is still an influence in modern formal furniture design. As Pamela Wiggins says in her article on Chippendale Style Furniture: “Some modern pieces completely copy older designs while others derive inspiration from this classic style melding them with modern influences.”

drawing of Chippendale mirror, via the Internet Archive

In honor of Thomas Chippendale’s 300th birthday, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has arranged an exhibition, Chippendale’s Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker. It runs from May 14, 2018 to January 27, 2019 and the exhibit showcases works from the Met collection. On view are original drawings from Chippendale’s workshop, a selection of British and American furniture reflecting his designs and aesthetic, and Revival pieces of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well. One of the highlights of the exhibit is the Chippendale-inspired chair designed in 1984 by architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.  Information about the exhibit and ticket purchasing can be found on the Met website.

In England, through December 28, 2018, institutions and historic houses have joined together to create programs of exhibitions, events and tours to celebrate Thomas Chippendale’s Tercentenary. This provides a wonderful opportunity to see Chippendale’s furniture and designs in their original settings in these stately and aristocratic homes. Information about this wide-ranging presentation can be found on the website www.chippendale300.uk.co.

If you plan to be in New York or England this fall, take advantage of these exceptional events. After all, how often do you get to celebrate a 300th birthday in such elegant surroundings.

Sources

English Furniture From Gothic to Sheraton, Herbert Cescinsky,

Bonanza Books, New York, 1968

Field Guide to American Antique Furniture, Joseph T. Butler

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1985

American Chairs. Queen Anne and Chippendale, John T. Kirk

Alfred Knopf. New York, 1972

Flashback: Chippendale Designs as Reflected in English and American Furniture, Thomas Hamilton Ormsbee, Reprint of Article Published in the June 1941 Issue of the American Collector (1933-1943), Collectors Weekly. April 22, 2009

Chippendale: The Royalty of Antique Furniture, Bob Bowers

The Antiques Almanac. 2018

Online Resource for Information about Antiques and Collectibles for Dealers and Collectors.  www.theantiquealmanac.com

Chippendale Style Furniture, Learn How to Identify a Popular Period Style

Pamela Wiggins. December 28, 2017, www.thesprucecrafts.com

Chippendale’s Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. May 14, 2018–January 27, 2019

Programs of Exhibitions and Events to Celebrate Thomas Chippendale’s Tercentenary.  February-December 2018

www.chippendale300.co.uk

Chippendale buffet
Chippendale buffet

SAVING STUFF

How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions

by Don Williams, Senior Conservator Smithsonian Institution and Louisa Jagger

a book review

As Don Williams humorously writes in his introduction:

Saving Stuff” is about preserving and maintaining “the museum of you”. This museum is made up of the objects that have special value for you. I can’t stop an earthquake, flood, or alien invasion, but I can share how to prevent most homegrown catastrophes as well as how to go about saving stuff: comic books, wedding dresses, baseball cards, furniture, stamps, papers, film, pictures, records, DVDs, CDs, doll houses, flags, and weird and wacky things like Cousin Cecil’s African water buffalo head or your private collection of sheep’s eyeballs kept by your grandfather in mayonnaise jars. In this book I will show you how to save almost anything you want.”

At the time of publication, the author was the Senior Conservator of the Smithsonian Institution. His years of experience in the conservation and preservation of objects, mark him as an expert in his field.

His writing collaborator, Louisa Jagger, is a “saver of stuff” and the stories she shares revolve around common mistakes she has made in caring for her own collectibles, mistakes she hopes she can help the reader avoid.

According to the author, this book is not meant to be read from cover to cover. It is important to read through Chapters 1 and 2. There the reader will find basic important information about how to care for objects in general.

The following 13 chapters consist of in-depth discussions covering a particular category of collectible as well as how to care for and preserve each object. Since each type of collectible has its own section within the category chapter, the reader can turn to the chapter to find the information he or she is most interested in without having to read through the entire book.

Williams includes a Risk Chart for Collectibles at the end of Chapter 1. Each category of collectible — paper, glass and ceramics, wood and baskets, textiles, metals, photos, paintings, watercolors, pastels, plastics — is listed and across the page are the risks for damage from which the object would be most in danger. The risks, depending on the object, include light, insects and mold, handling and misuse, contaminants, normal use, temperature and moisture.

He also includes puppies and kittens (and children) who “…inflict 90 percent of the damage on collectibles as compared to grown-up pets. As a note of encouragement, pet’s manners often improve with age. Kid’s manners do, too.”

Included in these two chapters are ideas on how to decide what you would like to save.

Williams says, “People save stuff for sentimental as well as for financial reasons. Deciding what is a collectible is all about what is important to you.”

Unless you have unlimited space and resources, you can’t save everything, and so most people are forced to make choices. Once choices are made, don’t feel guilty, because it is okay to sell, give or throw stuff away.

The author stresses the importance of prioritizing to compile a list of objects. Two worksheets for this purpose are included at the end of Chapter 2. On Worksheet 1: Why It Is Important to You and on Worksheet 2: Everything You Know.

 Completing Worksheet 2 is vital because it asks the questions who, what, when, and where.

Who owned it? Who made it? How did you acquire it? Do you plan to leave it to someone?

What is its value?  What did you pay for it and do you have the original bill of sale? What is it made of? What is its condition?

When was the object made and when did you or your family acquire it?

Where did it come from and are there marks to give you clues to its origin or maker?

A list like this would also provide valuable information to family heirs, to appraisers for purposes of valuation, and to insurance adjusters in the event of damage or loss due to earthquake, fire or flood.

Interwoven throughout the chapters are Don’s Tips, where the author shares his vast experience and knowledge of preservation and includes “everything from debunking old wives’ tales to novel uses of everyday materials around the house.” From never wrap your silver in Saran Wrap to never use furniture polish, as well as an interesting comment on the “mythology of cedar chests”, are among the many useful nuggets of information.

He advises when it is necessary to get a second opinion. Williams states: “If you are faced with the unenviable task of sorting through a garage, attic or basement filled with family stuff, you might be wise to have an appraiser take a quick walk-through with you to advise you on what to keep and what is really ready for the dumpster.”

The final section of the book is entitled Resources and contains a complete A to Z list of what the author describes as Your Saving Stuff Tool Kit.  Everything anyone would need to maintain and safely keep every kind of collectible is briefly and clearly described. A list of suppliers where all of these tools can be found is also included.

Saving Stuff, as stated on the back cover of this comprehensive guide, “is for both the serious collector and the sometimes sentimentalist. With step-by-step instructions, detailed illustrations, tips for making the things you use every day last, and stories about how the Smithsonian takes care of our national treasures, Saving Stuff is the only book you need to take care of the stuff you love.”

Source

Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions

Don Williams and Louisa Jagger, Fireside Book, Simon & Schuster. New York, 2005, 365 pages, ISBN 9780743264167

Other Sources

 Downsizing the Family Home.  What to Save, What to Let Go

Marni Jameson, Sterling Publishers. 2016

Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand, Downsizing the Home Press. 2004, Kindle Edition. 2013

Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life

Peter Walsh, Rodale Books. 2017

Downsizing the Family Home: What To Do With All the Stuff

Interview with Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand for Next Avenue by Jill Yanish, Forbes Magazine. March 27, 2014

Don Williams retired from the Smithsonian in December of 2012 after 30 years as Senior Furniture Conservator. He purchased a large barn in Illinois, dismantled it and re-assembled it in the rural Virginia mountains. He now resides at the Barn on White Run where he offers classes and workshops. He writes articles and books, researches historical craft and artifacts, and constructs and conserves furniture and decorative arts. He also makes and sells tools and supplies for restoration, conservation and construction.

Art Nouveau – Masters of Ornament

During the years 1890 to the beginning of the First World War, Art Nouveau, or the “new art” movement encompassed graphic arts, interior design, architecture, the use of technology and new scientific discoveries, as well as many of the decorative arts including textiles, jewelry, silver, ceramics and glassware, tile, ironwork, lighting, and the fine arts. It was considered a “total art style”, more of a movement than a style, which promoted the philosophy that art should be a way of life. In the words of William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It was rooted in the Arts and Crafts movement of the mid to late 19th century which called for a closer union between the fine and decorative arts and away from the academic styles of the overly fussy and conservative Victorian tastes of the time.

Designs were inspired by all things in nature, employing flowers, vines, and other flora and fauna. Intertwining curvilinear forms, asymmetrical and dynamic, flowing one into another, always striving for harmony. It was described in 1894 as “sudden, violent curves generated by the crack of a whip “. Through exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. in the late 19th-early 20th century, Japanese woodblock prints became popular and were an important influence in Art Nouveau designs with their many references to the world of nature.

Art Nouveau designs have a distinctive appearance, instantly recognizable.  The artisans of the Arts and Crafts movement frowned upon the use of the machine as an aid in creating their art forms. Their ideal was to create a more humane and just society through their artistic endeavors. The artists of this “new style” enthusiastically adopted new materials and new technology in developing innovative, imaginative, and fanciful designs, particularly in jewelry, glass, and the new medium of cast iron, which was artistically utilized in architectural interiors and exteriors. It was truly “art for art’s sake” and beauty, grace, and harmony were the desired results.

In the United States, Art Nouveau is often referred to as “Tiffany style”, although there were several other well-known and highly regarded American design studios. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) and his studio were most famous for their lamps. He experimented with the processes of coloring glass, and in 1894 patented favrile glass, which used metallic oxides to color the interior of molten glass giving it an iridescent effect. Among Tiffany’s most notable designs was the dragonfly. Gossamer-winged dragonflies, mysterious and ethereal, are admired in many cultures. They are a symbol of agility and purity because they are always found hovering and darting about near water. To the Chinese, they symbolize harmony and prosperity. Dragonfly lampshades became one of the Studio’s most popular designs, and were produced in many colors and styles. The most valuable and most highly prized by collectors have a matching base inset with mosaic glass. Tiffany lamps can be worth anywhere from 4000 to several hundred thousand dollars.

On June 6th, 2017, Sotheby’s will feature the estate of Carol Ferranti: Masterworks by Tiffany Studios.  On June 16th, James D. Julia, Inc. will be featuring lighting from Tiffany studios in their upcoming auction of Rare Lamps, Glass, and Jewelry. Among other designs, a dragonfly lamp and a remarkable wisteria leaded-glass window will be highlights.  Another resource, Liveauctioneers, is an excellent free website to view realized prices from various auction houses.

In my travels last year, I was fortunate to go to the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum in Salamanca, Spain.  Among their collections are wonderful examples of glass by Loetz, Galle’, Daum and Lalique.

The ideal of this movement can be summed up in the words of Christopher Dresser, a botanist, and a strong influence on American Art Nouveau design: “…nothing is too mundane to be transformed into a thing of beauty”  if it was from nature.

REFERENCES

 American Art Nouveau. Diane Chalmers Johnson.  Harry N. Abrams Inc., NY 1979

The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany.  Donald L. Stover. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 1981

Louis Comfort Tiffany.  Alastair Duncan. Harry N Abrams, Inc. NY 1992

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Jewelry: An Identification and Value Guide. Lillian Baker

 Essentials of Art History. George M. Cohen, PhD.  Research and Education Association

INTERNET RESEARCH

Art Design and Visual Thinking

Antique Reporter

Nature and Art Nouveau

The Aesthetic Movement

Art Nouveau – Wikipedia

“The Art that is Life” American Art Pottery

Arts & Crafts period tile mural for the Santa Fe train at Union Station, San Diego.

The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, spanning the years from 1875-1930, saw its beginnings as a rebellion against the fussiness and excesses of the Victorian age and the terrible economic and environmental conditions fostered by the industrial revolution. It had its origins in expressing the ideas of the Movement as stated in this quote from an exhibition catalog published by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts:

“Convinced that industrialization had caused the degradation of work and the destruction of the environment, Arts and Crafts reformers created works with deliberate social messages. Their designs conveyed strong convictions about what was wrong with society and reflected prescriptions for living. The aim was to incorporate art into everyday activities and thus, to democratize it”.

Groups of like-minded artisans formed guilds and collectives to produce handcrafted wares including tall vases, tiles, utilitarian shapes for daily use, original designs with simplified shapes, experimental glazes and painting techniques, many with incised and raised decorations. From the 1880’s to post World War 1, highly decorated Japanese porcelain and artifacts inspired American pottery artists and designers.

Many pottery-making collectives sprang up across America during these years, and especially in California, incorporating new ideas about design, philanthropy, and social consciousness. The Arequipa Pottery located in Marin county in Northern California, was established as part of a tuberculosis sanatorium for young working-class women who were taught the craft as part of their recovery program and produced wares for sale in stores across the country, as well as being displayed at the Pan Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco in 1915.

The popularity of the Arts and Crafts movement began to decline after World War 1 as newer design forms began to evolve. The design aesthetic of the movement continued to influence modernism in the 1930’s and 1940’s and into the post-modernism period of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Sunnylands, the Walter Annenberg estate in Palm Springs, is a fine example of post-modernism architecture as it echoes the idealism, beauty, grace, form in nature, and simplicity of the earlier movement.

There are a few Arts and Crafts potteries still producing today, but almost all of them were out of business by 1930. There was a resurgence of handcrafted pottery and objects late in the 20th century and there are many artisans producing fine handcrafted works today. American Art Pottery can be found in antique stores, auctions, and on line. There are collections in many museums around the country. There are walking and home tours in San Diego and Pasadena focusing on arts and crafts design and architecture at various times of the year and many websites, books, publications, organizations and dealers can be found on line relating to the Arts and Crafts movement and, specifically, art pottery.

A worthwhile show for those who are interested in handcrafted art pottery, old and new, is the upcoming Los Angeles Pottery Show at the Pasadena Convention Center on May 20-21, 2017. It is the largest pottery and tile show in America.

FURTHER RESEARCH

General Books on the Arts and Crafts Movement:

The Art That is Life – Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1875-1920, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Wendy Kaplan   1987

The Arts and Crafts Companion, Pamela Todd, 2004, Bullfinch

The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America: Design for the Modern World 1880-1920, Wendy Kaplan, 2005, Thames & Hudson

The Arts and Crafts Movement (World of Art), 1991, Thames & Hudson

Arts and Crafts in Britain and America, Isabel Anscombe and Charlotte Gere, 1978, Rizzoli

General Books on American Art Pottery and Tile:

American Art Tile 1876-1941, Norman Karlson, 1998, Rizzoli

American Art Pottery, David Rago , 1997, Knickerbocker Press

California Pottery: From Missions to Modernism, Book Published  in Conjunction with Exhibition at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 2003-2004

Journal of the American Pottery Association – bi-monthly magazine with fully researched and in-depth articles and information on all aspects of art pottery

www.AmArtPot.org/

justartpottery.com         Newsletter and Blog

Museum Collections

LACMA

Oakland Museum    Oakland, CA

Kirkland Museum    Denver, Colorado

Everson Museum    Syracuse, New York

American Arts and Crafts Collection of Alexander and Sidney Sheldon (exhibition publication)

Palm Springs Art Museum

Art Pottery collections displayed in many Museums around the US.

The Arts and Crafts Society – aggregate of resources, books, collections and museums worldwide

Arts & Crafts pottery compote

Caring For Cut Glass

The American Cut Glass Association has a very informative website.   In addition to membership information there are tips on identifying cut glass, dating and patterns.

There are several free articles from past issues of their journal “The Hobstar”.  Among them are two articles by Vickie Matthews.

The Care and Cleaning of Cut Glass” has tips on handling, washing and displaying.  Since I’m located in an area prone to earthquakes, I especially like the suggestion of using a neutral wax or gel product sold at antique shops, hardware stores or on-line.   These products can be removed without harming the glass or signatures.

Packing and Shipping of Cut Glass” has tips on wrapping, boxing and using various shipping services.  Many of these tips can be used for transportation of glass, china or collectibles in general.

One of the best places to view cut glass in Southern California is the Historical Glass Museum in Redlands.   They have an entire room dedicated to American Cut Glass.  Located in a Victorian house, they have many other types of American made glass; the largest collection West of the Mississippi.  Check their website for upcoming lectures.

ANTIQUE and PERSONAL PROPERTY APPRAISALS

Antiques and Personal Property Appraisals

Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a full time Certified Appraiser of Personal Property.  Designated with the International Society of Appraisers in Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Art.  Nineteen years of personal property appraisal experience, since 1999.  Generalist appraiser specializing in estates, collections and large donations.  Specialty in art glass.   Member of the Desert Estate Planning Council, Decorative Arts Trust, Foundation For Appraisal Education and Art Alliance For Contemporary Glass.

760-205-2582 (Palm Desert); 619-670-4455 (San Diego)

Serving the Palm Desert and San Diego, California regions.  Willing to travel for large projects.

Insurance Coverage for Valuable Possessions

Your home / condo owners or renters insurance policy should be reviewed once a year to make sure your coverage is right for your current needs.  One of the most common mistakes people make is to assume their valuable possessions are covered under their standard property policy.  This is not true in most cases.

Some of the items that need extra protection include jewelry, furs, cameras, silverware, antiques, musical instruments, collections, fine art and manuscripts or books.  Some policies don’t cover breakage, so if you have a collection of art glass or porcelain you may need special coverage as well.

Additional protection can be obtained by purchasing scheduled personal property coverage or a floater / rider.   Rates are generally a small percentage of the total value of the items you are insuring.  To determine the value, you’ll need to provide a receipt or hire an independent appraiser qualified to appraise the type of items you have.

Everyone’s policy is different, so check with your insurer to determine your needs.   If you purchase new items you’ll need to add them to your policy as well.  Review your policy regularly.

Resources:

Insurance Coverage: Know Your Choices from A Homeowners Insurance Guide to Natural Disasters

What is Covered by Standard Homeowners Insurance? from the Insurance Information Institute

International Society of Appraisers

 

About the Author: Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a certified appraiser of personal property designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers. She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death, Debt, Divorce, Disaster – The 4 D’s

We don’t like to think about it, but there are several situations where our art, antiques and collectibles will be affected in a major way.   Life’s events have a way of separating us from our possessions.

The Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers recently posted a good article on the subject titled “Not Till Death, Debt, Divorce Do We Part” by Julia McLaren.   It discusses the first three D’s and how proper planning and use of professional appraisers can assist during these times.

I would like add a fourth “D” to the list ….. disaster.  Our beloved objects can be damaged or in the worst case scenario, destroyed.  I discussed this subject in an earlier post titled  “Protecting Your Valuables from a Disaster”.

Protection of your collection and planning for the future is essential.  By having an inventory and professional appraisal, you can make informed decisions regarding insurance, donation, division or liquidation.  At the end of every episode of the TV show “Strange Inheritance” they remind us “you can’t take it with you”.

FBI Warns Dealers, Collectors About Terrorist Loot

On Aug. 26th the following announcement was made:

The FBI is alerting art collectors and dealers to be particularly careful trading Near Eastern antiquities, warning that artifacts plundered by terrorist organizations such as ISIL are entering the marketplace.

“We now have credible reports that U.S. persons have been offered cultural property that appears to have been removed from Syria and Iraq recently,” said Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI’s Art Theft Program.

The Bureau is asking U.S. art and antiquities market leaders to spread the word that preventing illegally obtained artifacts from reaching the market helps stem the transfer of funds to terrorists.

In a single-page document titled ISIL Antiquities Trafficking, the FBI asks leaders in the field to disseminate the following message:

  • Please be cautious when purchasing items from this region. Keep in mind that antiquities from Iraq remain subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions under the Iraq Stabilization and Insurgency Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR part 576).
  • Purchasing an object looted and/or sold by the Islamic State may provide financial support to a terrorist organization and could be prosecuted under 18 USC 233A.
  • Robust due diligence is necessary when purchasing any Syrian or Iraqi antiquities or other cultural property in the U.S. or when purchasing elsewhere using U.S. funds.

In February, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2199, which obligates member states to take steps to prevent terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria from receiving donations and from benefiting from trade in oil, antiquities, and hostages.

Before purchasing an item from suspected areas, ask questions and verify:

  • Which country did this come from?
  • Do you have the proper paperwork?
  • What is the provenance or history of the object’s ownership?

Check stolen object databases.  Proceed with caution.  For the full article and links to important resources:  ISIL and Antiquities Trafficking

7 Best Practices for Gifting Art to Museums

Appraisals for Charitable Deductions in Southern California

 

Investment News has a good article titled “The Art of Legacy Planning – 7 Best Practices for Gifting Art to Museums”.  In the article they state that high net worth individuals spend an average of 17% of their wealth on art and antiques, a passion investment.   Part of managing this investment is planning for the future of the collection.  One option is to donate to a non-profit organization such as a museum.  To maximize the benefit from a donation these steps are suggested:

1. Create a plan with your client, legal counsel and an independent art adviser that includes the donor’s close family or other heirs as appropriate. Including family and/or heirs in the process can help clarify a donor’s intent, prevent future conflict and actively aid in preserving the donor’s legacy. The plan should include having the artwork professionally appraised by an accredited appraiser with relevant experience in the type of artwork being donated. The appraisal cannot be made earlier than 60 days before the donation. In cases where donors are concerned about whether the IRS may accept a valuation, such as when there are fluctuating markets for similar artwork, an IRS Statement of Value may be obtained for artwork valued at $50,000 or more to provide the donor with certainty.

2. Try to place artwork in museums that have missions and continuing collection interests that strongly align with your clients’ intent and contents of their collection. Clients often will know of strong prospects. But clients focused and passionate about their collection may not recognize how their collection will best fit with a museum’s broader collection, its goals and its limitations in space and other resources.

3. Consider art museum policies and practices for donors and “deaccessioning” (removing items from museum holdings, usually to sell them). Mr. Welch pointed out that “many museums want to retain the ability to improve their collections through the acquisition of better examples. In such a case, a gifted artwork might be deaccessioned and the proceeds used to acquire a superior work. When that happens, the donor’s name of the original gift typically appears in the newly acquired work’s credit line.”

4. Consider museums that are members of monitoring or regulating associations. For example, the Association of Art Museum Directors requires a written policy for “deaccession principles, procedures and processes”. They also require that “funds received from the disposal of a deaccessioned work shall not be used for operations or capital expenses. Such funds, including any earnings and appreciation thereon, may be used only for the acquisition of works in a manner consistent with the museum’s policy on the use of restricted acquisition funds. In order to account properly for their use, AAMD recommends that such funds, including any earnings and appreciation, be tracked separate from other acquisition funds.”

5. Check the health of organizational finances by looking at Form 990 tax filings and/or charity rating agencies like Charity Navigator. One quick test is to look at total assets and total liabilities. Stable charities — like stable businesses — generally have assets exceeding liabilities.

6. Consider supporting museum operating costs as part of a donor’s commitment to their gift of artwork. Financially supporting the museum is another way of helping to preserve a donor’s legacy and a logical step in a client’s charitable, financial and tax planning.

7. As you draft an agreement for the gift, consider including a “statement of intent” that clearly and personally outlines the desires and expectations of the donor for their donation. Sharing this statement with family (and/or other heirs) and the beneficiary museum can help clarify intent, expectations and address any concerns of heirs or the museum. A statement of intent can also clarify donor intent for future generations and may help prevent legal challenges. Donors who bequeath their art collections to museums share an intimate part of their lives. Advisers can help provide guidance that will preserve and protect their client’s wishes, smooth the process and help establish their client’s legacy for the benefit of future generations.

Source: Investment News The first item on the list includes having your artwork professionally appraised by an accredited appraiser.  Credentials for qualified personal property appraisers are earned with their professional appraisal societies.

About the Author: Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a certified appraiser of personal property designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers. She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.