How Important Are Certificates of Authenticity?

Some publishers (and galleries) provide comprehensive Certificates of Authentication with the art they sell. These authentications give information that may include the name of the artist, title of the work, year the editions were issued, the total edition size, the number of proofs, the name of the publisher and/or the printer, information about paper quality, dimensions, the individual print number, etc.

Some publishers furnish “blank” certificates to galleries who are expected to fill them out themselves.

With today’s printing technology, it certainly would be easy to duplicate a publisher’s certificate and /or alter the original information. So what good are these certificates?

While they do provide worthwhile information, much of that can be obtained from the print itself and/or from the invoice.

Without a doubt, a collector’s best safeguard is purchasing from a stable retail gallery – one with a solid history of reputability and with a retail location that you can visit.

Gallery One’s suggestion: If furnished with paperwork relative to your art purchase, retain it. (You just might want to refer to it in the future!) You can make pertinent notes on the invoice – recording the print number, the correct spelling of the artist’s first name (if that does not appear on your invoice) and any other information that you might want to refer to in the future. Keep the original paperwork in your “files” and make a copy to store in an envelope stapled or taped to the back of your frame.

An added note: We’ve been in business for 30+ years…and when we prepare to purchase art, we ask a lot of questions (and conduct meticulous inspections) to determine quality and condition. The one question we do not recall asking is: “Does a certificate of authentication accompany the print?”