A Certificate of authenticity is a receipt. It describes the item transacted and is a written promise that the item it accompanies is accurately described.
The information on a COA gives the reader the necessary information for them to do their own research. It tells you the artist, the medium, the edition and the dimension of the print. Any registration numbers are internal reference number to the issuer unless stated otherwise. For example Mourlot # x. That is an external reference number that refers to another catalog.
Determining the authenticity of a certificate can only be accomplished if the person giving their opinion has the item being described in hand. And they have the background to know what to look for.
If the certificate is real it is because the art is real. The certificate is only as good as the art item it describes.
If a certificate is good it is good because the artwork it accompanies can be proven materially to be authentic. If a certificate is "fake" or "bogus" it is because the person making this claim has examined the artwork and can provide material evidence to back up their claim. It is not an opinion. They should be able to point specifically in balck and white trems whats wrong with the art that makes the certificate no good.
Again, the certificate does not make the art real. The art is real or not. If the certificate provides an accurate description then it’s good too.
No appraiser will ever give an appraisal based on a certificate. If they do they are not doing their job. I took my appraisal studies at NYU and my research and methodologies course, and that of the AAA, only validates an item by doing the research.
Not by looking at some piece of paper.
Beware of Certificate Pontificators.
If they have not examined the item directly and have not provided materially, valid and verifiable proof of their opinion on their letter head, they are likely trying to promote themselves or discredit someone else.
An appraiser assumes something is authentic unless they notice something is incorrect about the item.
They are not authenticators.
Very few people are.
An appraiser will use a certificate as a reference to guide their own research. If a certificate tells you, X Artist, from X Edition, made from X medium, then all they have to do is look the item up and compare it to the item they are appraising. You too.
The certificate is more like a map in this case.
So if someone tells you a certificate is bogus but the art is good, and the certificate makes an accurate description of the good art, then the certificate has to be good too. Simple.
If someone tells you a certificate is a fake, but they have not examined the art item it describes. They are a novice.
A person making such a claim who knows what they are talking about will always document their findings specifically. It’s not an opinion. If a print is fake there is hard evidence to back up such a claim.
Selling fake art is a felony!
If someone tells you a certificate is either fake or real, but they do not provide material evidence as it relates to the item being described by the certificate to back up their opinion, they are a novice or fake themselves.
The review of a certificate is only as good as the person’s ability to analyze the item in question and their ability to document their claim.
Such a review cannot be done over the internet, It must be done in person.
Unlike a painting or drawing a print is composed of several different components that all combine in such a way that an undetectable forgery is impossible to produce.
Plate markings for one, are as unique to a print as a finger print is to you or me. This cannot be faked in a million years.
Specials glues, paper and bindings, also can’t be faked without being plainly obvious to the trained eye. And the trained eye does not require a Masters degree, but it does require some coaching or some exposure in the market place in addition to up close examination.
Between your invoice which should include the seller’s information, the listing information from which you made your purchase, and the describing document ie: certificate, you should have more then enough information to identify your print as real or fake. And if found fake you have all the material to demand a refund or have legal charges pressed.
People who are in the Certificate business rarely do the legitimate and logical work required to justify their self appointed title. People giving such opinions over the internet are unqualified, if for no other reason they cannot examine the article first hand. There is no way around this. You have to be able to see the item first hand to document its authenticity or inauthenticity.
In closing George Kopel is dead. In June of 1988 the inventory of The National Art Guild was transferred from tabular form to certificate form. The authorized edition information was transferred to a certificate to accompany each piece, providing the new owner all the information that is needed to do their research.
The information about the art has not changed since that time and it never will. A Chagall Litho, a Picasso Serigraph, a Dali Woodcut, a Matisse Pochoir.... what ever ... will always be what it is. Thats why they are collectable - hello.
A simple magnifying glass will prove this every time. Yes, just a magnifying glass.
That’s what your certificate pontificators don't know and don't tell.