What's It Worth? On Age and Rarity In Valuation

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What's It Worth? On Age and Rarity In Valuation

The Adoration of the Magi is an oft-depicted scene in medieval art, and this triptych icon (a triptych has three pieces) made of carved wood puzzled us at first with regard to its age.

We bought it for less than $1,000 due to its condition (it is falling apart; and like most icons this old, shows a lot of paint loss).

Our gallerist, who helped buy it from the customer, insisted it was an 18th-century tribute to a 15th-century subject. Another expert was not so sure.

The essence of the issue was the depiction of a black magi. The naysayer in our group insisted this was a much more valuable piece, since the inclusion of African kings in adoration of the magi depictions was only in vogue from the late 14th century to the 15th century. Our gallerist insisted that, based on the type of wood and the manner of the depictions, it was created much later and worth just a few hundred dollars more than we paid for it.

Ultimately, after consultation with both auction experts and university scholars, the consensus was that this is indeed a 17th-century piece, and not a rare Renaissance piece as one of our staff had hoped.

We still feel it is rare – since the depiction of a black magi (representing the African continent) among the three kings was, by this time period, not as accepted.

Its value? $600-$900. We feel an auction estimate would be $1,000 to $1,500. A retail gallery might ask $2,000 or more.
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