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  • The terminology used to discuss art, antiques, and appraisals can quickly become confusing and convoluted. Please consult the glossary below for useful definitions, descriptions, and phrases that are often used throughout the appraisal process. For additional resources, please consult our Online Research Center, FAQs, and blog.

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    A


    Abstract Art
    A 20th century style of painting in which nonrepresentational lines, colors, shapes, and forms replace the accurate visual depiction of objects, landscapes, and figures. Tangible subject matter often becomes unrecognizable as it is often stylized, blurred, repeated or broken down into basic forms; intangible subject matter such as thoughts, emotions, and time are often expressed in abstract art.


    Acid-Free Paper or Canvas
    Paper or canvas treated to neutralize its natural acidity in order to protect fine art and photographic prints from discoloration and deterioration.


    Actual Cash Value
    An insurance term defined as either market value or replacement cost less depreciation (depending on your jurisdiction). Depreciation, in this instance, typically refers to an incremental reduction in value based on age/life formulas commonly in use within the insurance industry. Actual cash value is usually established by the adjuster based on these depreciation standards and guidelines.


    Addendum
    A required element of appraisal reports. The report’s addendum contains supporting documentation for information found in the appraisal report’s cover document and body, including, but not limited to, the appraiser’s qualifications, photographs, working bibliography, tests and reports proving authenticity or provenance, etc.


    American Society of Appraisers (A.S.A.)
    The American Society of Appraisers is an organization of appraisal professionals. Each individual seeking accreditation from the American Society of Appraisers must furnish professional and personal references and be subject to local credit and background investigations. In addition, local chapters conduct personal interviews and evaluate the practices of all applicants.


    Appraisal
    An estimate of the quantity, quality or value of something. The process through which conclusions of property value are obtained; also refers to the report that sets forth the process of estimation and conclusion of value.


    Aquatint
    Printing technique capable of producing unlimited tonal gradations to re-create the broad flat tints of ink wash or watercolor drawings by etching microscopic cracks and pits into the image on a master plate, typically made of copper or zinc. Spanish artist, Goya, used this technique.


    Art Nouveau
    A style of painting, printmaking, architecture and decorative design developed in England in the 1880s. Art Nouveau, primarily an ornamental style, was not only a protest against the sterile Realism, but against the whole drift toward industrialization and mechanization, and the unnatural artifacts they produced. The style is characterized by the usage of sinuous, graceful, curved lines, interlaced patterns, and motifs from the natural world including flowers, plants, and insects.


    Artist’s Proof
    Print intended for the artist’s personal use. It is common practice to reserve approximately ten percent of an edition as artist’s proofs, although this figure can be higher. An artist’s proofs can be distinguished by the abbreviations “A.P.” or “E.A.” (for the French term “épreuve d’artist”), commonly located on the lower left quadrant of the work.


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    B


    Betterment
    An insurance term that refers to the incremental increase in market value due to a repair or replacement, which renders the property more valuable than prior to damage or loss.


    Blind
    Printing using an uninked plate to produce the subtle embossed texture of a white-on-white image, highlighted by the shadow of the relief image on the uninked paper. This technique is used in many Japanese prints.


    Blockage
    A discount applied to a value to reflect the depressive effect on value caused by the sudden offering for sale of a large number of identical or very similar items at the same time. In such a case, the market finds it difficult to absorb all the items quickly and, as a result, value is depressed.


    Broad Evidence Rule
    An elaboration on actual cash value, used in some jurisdictions, which gives consideration to all aspects of value rather than simply “replacement cost less depreciation.” The objective of this rule is to compensate for actual loss.


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    C


    Cancellation Proof
    Final print made once an edition series has been finished to show that the plate has been marred/mutilated by the artist, and will never be used again to make more prints of the edition.


    Canvas Transfer
    Art reproduction on canvas which is created by a process such as serigraphy, photomechanical or giclée printing. Some processes can even recreate the texture, brush strokes and aged appearance of the original work.


    Charitable Donation
    An outright gift or contribution, with charitable intent, the value of which is deductible pursuant to federal and state income and estate/inheritance tax laws. Visit our Charitable Donation page to learn more about this Appraisal Service.


    Collograph
    Printing technique in which proofs are pulled from a block on which the artwork or design is built up like a collage, creating relief.


    Color-Variant Suite
    A set of identical prints in different color schemes.


    Condition
    Refers to the physical state of the property as it relates to giving the expected results. Condition takes into consideration normal wear and tear, repairs, alterations, completeness, restorations, and conservation.


    Cost Approach
    Compares the item being appraised with the cost to replace (by purchase, production or reproduction) the item with a new or comparable substitute.


    Cubism
    An art style developed in 1908 by Picasso and Braque whereby the artist breaks down the natural forms of the subjects into geometric shapes and creates a new kind of pictorial space. In contrast to traditional painting styles where the perspective of subjects is fixed and complete, cubist work can portray the subject from multiple perspectives. Learn more about Cubism at our Online Research Center.


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    D


    Dadaism
    An art style founded by Hans Arp in Zurich after WW1 which challenged the established canons of art, thoughts and morality etc. Disgusted with the war and society in general, Dadaist expressed their feelings by creating “non-art.” The term Dada, nonsense or baby-talk term, symbolizes the loss of meaning in the European culture. Dada art is difficult to interpret since there is no common foundation. Learn more about Dadaism at our Online Research Center.


    Depreciable Personal Property
    Property that decreases in value or price over time.


    Distress Liquidation Market
    Any market circumstance where property is sold quickly, within a very restricted time frame, without the freedom to consider exposure or price and, often, without regard to the most appropriate marketplace.


    Drypoint
    Printing technique of intaglio engraving in which a hard, steel needle incises lines on a metal plate, creating a burr that yields a characteristically soft and velvety line in the final print.


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    E


    Engraving
    Printing technique in which an intaglio image is produced by cutting a metal plate or box directly with a sharp engraving tool. The incised lines are inked and printed with heavy pressure.


    Equitable Distribution
    A fair division of marital property in a dissolution of marriage case.


    Etching
    Printing technique in which a metal plate is first covered with an acid-resistant material, then worked with an etching needle to create an intaglio image. The exposed metal is eaten away in an acid bath, creating depressed lines that are later inked for printing.


    Executor
    An individual or institution nominated in a will and appointed by a court to settle the estate of a deceased.


    Expert Witness
    A person who by reason of education or special training and experience possesses specialized knowledge in a particular subject area.


    Expressionism
    An art movement of the early 20th century in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion was replaced by the artist’s emotional connection to the subject. These paintings are often abstract, the subject matter distorted in color and form to emphasize and express the intense emotion of the artist.


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    F


    Fair Market Value
    The fair market value is “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having knowledge of relevant facts. Click to learn more about our Fair Market Value Appraisal Service.


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    G


    Gemologist
    One who has successfully completed recognized courses of study in gem identification, grading and pricing, as well as diamond grading and appraising.


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    I


    International Society of Appraisers (I.S.A.)
    The I.S.A. is a professional association that requires the successful completion of course work and examinations for their Certified Members. The I.S.A. has developed and currently offers appraisers the most comprehensive personal property educational program in America. This program is based on a standardized body of knowledge, education and testing.


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    P


    Personal Property
    Any tangible or portable objects which are considered by the general public as being “personal”, e.g. furnishings, artwork, antiques, gems and jewelry, collectibles, machinery and equipment; all property that is not classified as real estate.


    Porcelain
    White, hard, permanent, nonporous pottery having translucence, which is resonant when, struck. Porcelain was first made by the Chinese to withstand the great heat generated in certain parts of their kilns. The two natural substances used were kaolin, also known as china clay, white clay free of impurities that melts only at very high temperature, and a feldspar mineral called petuntse that forms glassy cement, binding the vessel permanently. In Europe porcelain was first commercially produced (1710) in Meissen, Germany. Most of the European porcelain is soft paste (made from clay and an artificial compound such as ground glass) and is not as strong as the Chinese hard-paste porcelain. Important European centers for porcelain are Bow, Chelsea, Worcester, Staffordshire, Vienna, Meissen, Sèvres, Limoges, and Rouen.


    Probate
    The process that transfers legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died. A probate is the court process in which a deceased person’s estate is administered, whether the person died with or without a will. The process includes appointment of an executor or a representative of the estate, notifying the creditors, inventorying the estate, and distributing the estate according to the deceased person’s will or according to the law if there is no will.


    Provenance
    The origin and history of ownership or the source of an object including its past ownership, exhibitions showing the item, literature mentioning the particular property, etc.


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    R


    Replacement Cost
    The cost to replace property with a substitute which is new, using modern materials, techniques, and standards which, however, satisfy the description or use of the replaced property.


    Replacement Value – Comparable
    The price required to replace a property with a comparable property to satisfy the description or use of the property to be replaced. Extraneous characteristics (similar age, origin, appearance, provenance, & condition, etc.) and anticipated costs are taken into consideration.


    Replacement Value – Reproduction Cost
    The price required to replicate a property at current costs, using similar materials and the same level of craftsmanship, in order to satisfy the description or use of the property to be replaced.


    Reproduction Value
    Also referred to as reproduction cost, is the total cost of construction an exact replica by a qualified artist or craftsman, using the same materials and construction techniques as the original.


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    S


    Salvage Value
    The amount that can probably be obtained from a damaged item or for the components of the item.


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    V


    Valuation
    The process of determining monetary worth based upon the past exchange of such items in the market place.


    Value
    The monetary worth which an informed purchaser would offer in exchange for an item of personal property taking in consideration a given market condition (i.e. within a given market at a specific point in time).


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