Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide, 2006/2007 Edition, Book & CD-ROM
Posted December 8, 2005
The brand new Davenport's is out-- bigger and better than ever-- Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide, 2006/2007 Edition, book and CD-ROM. Davenport's continues to be the best, easiest, fastest and most comprehensive artist index available anywhere-- including on the internet-- providing basic biographical and price information for over 275,000 artists. That's 25,000 artists more than the previous edition. Each artist listing includes data, based on availability, like the artist's full name, birth and death dates (when applicable), nationality, specialties (painter, sculptor, etc.), subject matters, auction prices, price ranges, notations of specific auctions where the artist's art has sold, references to books with additional biographical information, and approximate sizes of listings in those books.
The great advantage of Davenport's book and CD-ROM over other art reference books and online databases is that you find out almost instantly whether an artist is known and whether or not his or her work has sold at auction. Without it, you would have to repeatedly look up the artist in multiple art reference books, databases, and price resources hoping to find information. With Davenport's, you find the name fast and then find out where to go next. The best part about the index is that it provides data on many obscure and minor artists, especially American, who are listed hardly anywhere else.
Now the book is good, but the CD-ROM is even better, mainly because of the search option that matches artist names with partial signatures. For example, if you identify the letters "Pi-as-o" in the artist's name, then you search the CD-ROM by typing in "pi*as*o" (typing an asterisk in place of each missing letter) and all artist names with letters matching the missing letters come up. I can't tell you how many times I've paged through the Davenport's book in attempts to fill in missing letters in partial signatures-- sometimes looking at thousands of names before finally making a match-- assuming I was even able to find a match.
Be aware that Davenport's price information is abbreviated and only an approximate indicator of what an artist's art is worth-- additional research is almost always necessary, especially for artists whose art regularly appears at auction. Some Davenport's prices may also be older, outdated or, in other cases, given as price ranges rather than as actual documented auction sales results. The bracketed date at the end of most artist entries, like  for example, indicates the most recent year in which a listing was updated. While an artist's basic biographical information changes little or not at all from year to year, his or her price information may. Some artist listings in Davenport's haven't been updated in years, so always check that bracketed date to see how "fresh" the price information is. Entries that lack bracketed dates are also older and may be outdated, so relying on those prices could be risky too.
Hyphenated price ranges found in certain artist listings (such as 300-700, for example) appear when no auction sales data is available and may be even more misleading than outdated auction results. All price ranges were approximated by previous editors of Davenport's and are, at best, educated guesses as to the value of particular artists' art. Artist price ranges are in the process of being updated with actual auction results, but due to the huge number of artists in the index, this process takes time to complete.
In spite of its minor shortcomings, Davenport's is among the two or three most frequently used artist references in my library-- and I've got pretty much every artist dictionary, encyclopedia, index, price guide, who's who, CD-ROM, and online database at my fingertips. When someone asks me a question about an artist whose name I'm not familiar with, Davenport's is often the first book I check.
Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide, 2006/2007 Edition , LTB Gordonsart Inc., Phoenix, 2005, hardbound, 2421 pages, 8 3/4 by 11 1/4 inches, $199.
Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide, 2006/2007 Edition , CD-ROM, LTB Gordonsart Inc., Phoenix, 2005, $229.
Available from LTB Gordonsart Inc. (formerly Gordon's Art Reference, Inc.), 13201 N. 35th Avenue, B-20, Phoenix, AZ 85029 or call 1-800-892-4622 or visit Gordon's Art Reference online.
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