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Art Prices: Franklin and James Decade Review


Posted Februrary 4, 2002

The Franklin and James Decade Review of American Artists at Auction, 2001, 4th Edition is one of the best references for tracking American art prices at auction. The 2001 edition contains nearly 100,000 price records for American paintings, drawings, watercolors, and other works on paper that sold at 38 American auction houses from May 1991 through May 2001. Buy-ins are also included along with their pre-sale estimates (a buy-in is a lot that fails to sell because bidding does not reach the seller's minimum acceptable selling price).

Franklin and James has several distinct advantages over competing art price references that include American art and artists. First and foremost, it's fast. You get a reasonably comprehensive overview of ten years of an artist's auction activity in seconds. You don't have to fire up your computer, search off of CD-ROMs, or wade through volume after volume of annual auction record compendiums. Secondly, price results are arranged chronologically, so that trends in artists' overall selling prices can be easily analyzed. Thirdly, buy-ins are included. No matter how much publishers of competing price references play down the significance of buy-ins, it's important for dealers and collectors to know when they're being offered works of art that have previously been through public auctions and failed to sell.

The only disadvantage of Franklin and James is that it includes few sculpture or print prices; those items will have to be researched in other art price references. Regardless, the book gets a big thumbs-up as a fast, easy, effective, accurate, and relatively portable American art price reference.

The Franklin and James Decade Review of American Artists at Auction, 2001, 4th Edition edited by James Morris. Franklin & James Publishing, Mansfield, OH, 2001, hardbound, 1387 pages, 6 3/8 by 9 1/2 inches, $125.

Available from Franklin & James Publishing, 55 S. Ireland Blvd., Mansfield, OH 44906. To order by phone, call 419.529.6899 or 614.274.5012. Fax 419.529.4036. Email tkojames@earthlink.net.

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Articles © Alan Bamberger 2002. All rights reserved.