During the month of May I attended by zoom, two classes given by the ASA, American Society of Appraisers, to fulfill continuing education requirements as a senior personal property appraiser of Asian Art. This is something I do annually, such as attending the Society for Asian Art lectures at the Asian Art Museum every Friday morning.

The first class was an hour long presentation, given virtually, by an expert in the field of Japanese Woodblock prints. The presenter took one well-known print, and showed 10 different impressions, all with attention to quality and value elements. She discussed the appearance of the verso or back of the print as well.

In discussing the identification of the print, she gave bullet points as to artist signature & seal, the Series title cartouche, Print title cartouche, Publisher seal, Censor seal, Date seal, the subject and the size. Not all of these identifying features apply to every print, some only have the Print title and Publisher seal. Many of the prints I see today are trimmed along the side, of the publisher’s seal is gone or the prints are faded. Japanese mid 1800’s woodblock prints are the most common item among estates that I inspect. Sometimes one or two, or often many more.

Today, it is common for an artist to sign in pencil and to label the lithograph or woodblock editions, like 2/37 meaning 2nd printing out of 37. During Edo times, 1860’s, the publishing house would publish as many as long as the blocks would hold up, nothing numbered and each printing a little different than the previous. At times, the break in a line is only obvious from the back of a print, yet value is certainly affected. During the last two Covid years, Japanese woodblock prints have sold very well in this country at auction and in retail settings. They seem to appeal to the always moving 20-40 year olds. As the presenter said, unfortunately, some people have purchased a reprint for an unrealistic high price. Important to know your dealer. Prints went up in value due to the Covid pandemic and focusing on the home, or work from home.

The second class was an update to the 2022 IRS rules for Charitable Contribution donation appraisal report writing. There are certain givens that are stated, like a donation with a value over $250,000 is automatically going to be reviewed. We are always reminded to review and then review again. There are also small details to remember so your client doesn’t get flagged, such as client copy of appraisal must be signed in ink, not electronically. The IRS form 8283 can be signed electronically. And yes, the property must be inspected in person by appraiser or other qualified person. Can you imagine, 16 hours used to discuss these points?

When you hire an appraiser, for real estate or insurance or personal property, take a moment and think about why they are qualified. Continuing education is important to us all.