Ancient Orthodox icons are of great interest to collectors around the world. It is not only a matter of aesthetic and spiritual enjoyment. Vintage icons are a win-win investment. As a special type of antiques, they are highly valued in the market, and their value increases every year.
How icons are rated
The evaluation of the icons is based on several criteria. First of all, the attribution of work is done. The time of writing the image, its territorial origin and, if possible, authorship are determined. In the case of icon painting, the latter is very difficult to establish. Since most of the images were created by anonymous masters, most often you can only talk about a particular workshop or school.
Also, the evaluation of ancient icons takes into account the safety of the item, size, salary, the presence of additional marks in the form of samples, brands, inscriptions, not related to the iconographic canon. The technology of execution and the material, in particular, the use of precious stones and metals, are taken into account.
What can I learn about the icon from the photo?
It is difficult for a non-specialist to determine independently the value and value of a sacred object. It is best to turn to experts and get their professional opinion. Evaluation of ancient icons from a photo is a great alternative for owners to get a preliminary expert opinion without exposing a rare monument to transportation risks. When referring to specialists in this way, you can find out the degree of artistic or historical value of the work and its approximate market value. However, do not forget that an expert can give a final conclusion only on the basis of a detailed study of the original.
Value and cost
Many lovers of antiquity confuse such concepts as artistic or historical value and the market value of a work of art. Evaluation of the icon for sale, of course, takes into account its artistic or historical significance. However, this is far from the only criterion that determines its final value in the antiques market.
What is the market price of an icon?
The art market dictates its own rules when pricing antiques. Assessment of icons as a work of art and as a subject of sale are two different types of assessment. It is not uncommon for a work of a high artistic level to go literally for a penny, while a thing that is not of special interest from the point of view of art is sold for fabulous money.
The market value of the icon consists of many factors. Artistic value is only one of them, and not always decisive. So, the price of an icon is influenced by such indicators as age, skill level (artistic value), size, condition, quality of restoration, the presence of a salary and its material, as well as the accessory of the icon. The latter is an important factor that directly affects the cost.
From the point of view of the market, icons that once belonged to famous personalities, famous monasteries, noted in the literature and manifested in significant historical events are valued higher than those that were stored in simple families or were church parish property.
Often, it is the ownership of the icon, its personal history, that are the determining criterion in assessing value.
If restoration is needed
Evaluation and restoration of icons is carried out after agreeing all the nuances with the customer. There are several types of restoration work. They differ in their tasks and the degree of intervention in the state of the original.
Most often, the so-called antique or commercial restoration is carried out. Her goal is to return the item to its original appearance. In this case, the restoration work affects all layers of the icon. The lost parts of the base are restored, the paint layer is cleaned and supplemented, gilding is renewed. All this is fixed with a protective coating.
After the commercial restoration, the icon turns out “as new” at the exit. This type of restoration work is extremely popular, because the icon restored in this way rises in price. However, inept restoration, technological errors, unjustified interference with the paint layer or gesso can significantly reduce the cost.
In contrast to commercial restoration, the museum, on the contrary, is aimed at preserving and preserving the monument in the form in which it is located. Its purpose is to stop the destruction and preserve the original state of the icon. In this case, restoration work involves strengthening the board, tinting the gesso, partial restoration of the painting layer, where possible, and subsequent conservation of the image. It is extremely rare that restorers intervene in the layers of the foundation, trying not to touch them unnecessarily.
Museum restoration is applied to especially valuable works of art, high artistic and historical significance.
Icons and salaries
Icons of the 18th-19th centuries in massive salaries made of expensive metals are of great value today. Many of them are rare and cost a lot of money. Often the salaries themselves are a work of decorative art and a collectible.
The assessment of the icons in the silver frame is carried out according to the same criteria as without it. The presence of a salary, as a rule, increases the cost of the icon. However, its presence does not automatically make any icon expensive, even if the salary is made of silver.
During the examination, it is often distinguished as different categories - the cost of the icon and the cost of the salary. Given the equal value of the two icons according to other criteria, the one on which the salary is preserved and, of course, the silver robe will raise the price, but not necessarily much higher, will be more expensive. However, another option is possible, when the icon is unremarkable in its qualities, and its price is basically only the cost of a salary of expensive metal.