Popular artists sometimes collaborate with publishing houses for marketing assistance. One way they do that is to run a strict number of limited-edition prints. These are generally hand signed by the artist and include a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA).
Is the certificate of authenticity valuable?
The CoA can become valuable, but until there are no more prints left to buy in the primary art market to meet customer demand, it doesn’t hold much appeal.
Where CoA’s have appeal is for artists to sign their prints, give customers insight into the work, provide details of the inks or oil pigments used, special techniques applied, authentic signature, date of work, and contact details or a website URL to help promote other works by the artist, photographer, or painter.
In essence, aspiring artists use CoA’s to raise awareness of their work. Established artists include the certificates to authenticate the print is part of their professional artist portfolio of either hand-signed prints, or hand-painted signatures on paintings.
There is no established format for a CoA. Artists can include as much or as little detail as they want. Some get creative by including a bite-sized chunk of text to provide the storyline behind the piece. Accompanied by that may be a digital image thumbnail of the print included for framing or already within a framed print.
Generally, artists who frame the pieces, include the Certificate of Authenticity within the frame. It is the last part to be inserted before sealing the work. This is considered best practice so that buyers are not left with a framed print and a lost CoA. The downside is that should the print be damaged or stolen, the certificate will be, too.
The better question to ask is whether the certificate is worth the effort of preservation framing separately?
What real value does a Certificate of Authenticity offer?
None, monetarily. Aesthetically, possibly.
Museums and art curators do not value artworks of any type based on a certificate printed up by an artist, photographer, or other creative professionals. The original signature on the work is the only valuable and recognised certification. The signature, like your own, is unique to each artist. Certificates are not and they are the most easily forged documents.
The only time a CoA has a real impact on the authentic validation is in the secondary market (resale of originals) as the details included within the document can be used for an artwork appraisal.
In the primary art market (sale of never-sold-before artwork), the CoA still may be valuable – but in the future. In the present, it is a marketing tool for aspiring artists. Once they become established, therefore, more sought-after in the secondary art market, the CoA can raise the value of the original piece.
The real valuation happens from an artist’s archival records. A historic record of their career, the artwork titles, dates, bill of sales records, exhibitions their work was released to, museums art was loaned to, etc.
In today’s modern era, much of that historic information is archived digitally. Often, by the artists themselves or their managing agents.
For that reason, there is no need to separate the CoA from the original. The only exception to that is if you personally feel the certificate is worth preserving.
As more artists strive to make their work unique, certificates are becoming part of the art, rather than just a certificate. They can provide a meaningful insight into the mindset of the artist while they were producing the work, the story behind their inspiration, and descriptive words about how and where the work was created.
Should you feel that an authentic certificate adds value to the art that you are framing for display, then it would make perfect sense to frame the certificate separately, or within a multi-photo frame to display both works together as a duo collection to be viewed as a set. If it is only a document with bland information that won’t add to the aesthetic value when viewed, then it is reasonable to include the certificate within the back of the frame, protected with acid-free backing for preservation.