Valuation Of Religious Art And Antiques

When it comes to antiques with religious themes, valuation is often negatively affected by the subject matter. Selling early-Christian-themed paintingsantique Judaica or Buddhist and Islamic art can prove daunting. We have also sold many paintings by old masters over the years — some worth $100,000 or more — and we have noticed that the more old school, violent and graphic these works are, the less money they sell for — even if it is the work of a famous artist.

Valuation is also affected because the subject matter narrows the marketplace — since art of a particular religion might not be of interest to followers of other beliefs. Exceptions are early Chinese artifacts, which are highly sought after, and handmade silver Judaica. Typically, we shy away from chalices, religious goblets and communion plates; and, indeed, when a woman brought several of these in we initially declined. Many of these items we have come to know are stolen from religious buildings.

french sterling

$100-$1,500 / 1940s – 1950s RELIGIOUS CHALICES 

sterling centerpiece

However, in this case, she came armed with a letter from a nun — a Franciscan missionary who needed us to sell it for her to benefit the mission’s cause. This nun was authorized to sell from the church, which had been recently destroyed, to fund their humanitarian efforts. Two are from the 1950s and made of composite metal. One is sterling silver from the 1940s with gold plating, and the centerpiece is a large hand-hammered piece in 950-grade silver by a member of the French silversmithing house Cheret.

The French House Cheret

religious chalices

1940s - 1950s French Centerpiece In Sterling

We paid a princely sum for these items and will sell them at one of our monthly auctions. Value will be determined    by the final auction price, and, in this case, if it goes for more than what we paid, we will write another check to the Franciscans. The auction estimate for the composite is $100-$150, the 1940s sterling is $200-$300, and the antique French 950 centerpiece is $1,000-$1,500.

This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.

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