Friday, July 1, 2011

due diligence

As I've mentioned before, setting a value on antiques is problematic. Example: I got the above oil painting at auction for $10. I didn't love it, but people like ship paintings. It's been hanging around, unloved, so I decided to put in in the Etsy shop. It is signed, not dated, and there was a paper stuck in the back, so I did my due diligence.

 I learned the due diligence lesson the hard way with a different painting-- wondering why a mediocre watercolor got snatched up 5 minutes after I listed it. Can you believe I didn't look up the artist? It wasn't a huge mistake, but big enough not to repeat. (Meaning--if I'd look up the artist I could have sold it for a few hundred dollars instead of a lot less than that.) So A A Goddard who painted this little clipper ship scene approximately 200 years ago was googled by me.

In addition to the signature, A A Goddard, I had another clue: the paper stuck in back of the canvas was a copy of a page from an index. The top of the page notes that the abbreviation PAC refers to the Providence Art Club. Presumably Providence Rhode Island, since the auction was in Massachusetts a few miles from the Rhode Island border. It lists Angell, Abigail, Wife of William Goddard. A few keystrokes showed that Abigail lived from 1758-1845, that William started the first newspaper to be printed in Providence, helped develop the postal system, and has a page on Wikipedia. They had 5 children and their family papers are in the Rhode Island Historical Society. I found nothing referring to Abigail as an artist.

I took another look at the index and saw Arnold, Benedict. The words "not that Benedict Arnold" popped into my head--a phrase from childhood. My father's mother's family (her name was Miriam Rhodes) came from Rhode Island. Zachariah Rhodes settled there with Roger Williams in the 1600's. He married Joanna Arnold, sister of Benedict, a governor of Rhode Island. Zachariah and Joanna's daughter Rebecca, married Roger Willams' son Daniel. Maybe one of my ancestors knew Abigail.

So, what is the value of the painting--monetary and/or historical? Should I find out if the Rhode Island Historical Society wants it? Save it in case one of my sons is interested? On its face (without the historic information) I doubt I could sell it for more than $50-75--but I'd be happy with that if the person loved it. What do you think I should do?

And now I'm off to the Catskills for the long Independence Day Weekend which will be especially good since my oldest son and his girlfriend, and my youngest will be there too. Hope you have a great weekend.



  1. I'm confused, you said you sold it, but now it sounds like you still have it? Its a neat painting; I love how the artist captured the turbulence of the ocean.

  2. Annie--oops that was a muddled paragraph! I just edited it to add I was talking about a different painting.