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  Valuing the Past: The Constitution of the Antiques Market in Russia

Bogdanova, E. (2011). Valuing the Past: The Constitution of the Antiques Market in Russia. PhD Thesis, University of Cologne, Cologne.

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Bogdanova, Elena1, Author              
1International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society, ou_1214550              


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 Abstract: Valuation and assessment of antiques are in the focus of the thesis: the symbolic and narrative character of these objects of the past makes them a special case among other singular goods. Their value developed over time into a number of orders of worth (Boltanski and Thevenot 2006) where antiques are conceptualized as historical, cultural, aesthetic, sentimental, and financial assets. As objects of art, antiques are not standardized: in some cases they were produced as unique and single objects, in other cases the process for becoming a valued antique varied. Moreover, many antique objects have their own histories relaying evidence of the unique circumstances under which they produced, exchanged, possessed, lost and found again. As a result there are almost no antiques that can be assessed using one given set of criteria. In market terms such characteristics translate into high uncertainty of quality for these goods. In light of this, the central question of the thesis is: How are antiques valued given the uncertainty of product quality and the context of unstable macro-structures in Russia? The main goal is to find market devices that help to solve this problem. An inquiry into the possible devices is presented in the empirical study of the antiques market in Russia as well as in research on the history and nature of unstable macro-structures that influence valuation. The process of valuing antiques that involves appraisal and attribution is an ambiguous one: market actors need specialized knowledge in the field of decorative art and art history in order to make the correct judgments. Discontinuities in historical records mean that this specialized knowledge is often open to debate. What is more, specialized knowledge may be inaccessible to some market actors, or be too difficult for them to grasp in order to be able to make proper use of it. The past has to be taken into account, but it is also inherently uncertain. Thus actors in the antiques market have to cope with more than the traditional problem of uncertainty regarding the future: the discoveries of new artifacts, or just historical facts, can significantly influence the valuation of objects.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2011-06-062011
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: 197
 Publishing info: Cologne : University of Cologne
 Table of Contents: 1. Introduction
1.1. Research Question and Theoretical Framework
1.2. Case Selection and Methodology
1.3. Organizational and Methodological Constraints of the Research
1.4. The Structure of the Thesis
2. The Value of the Past: The Emergence and Development of Interest in Antiques in Western Europe
2.1. Bringing the Past into the Present: The Evolution of the European Concept of Antiques and Their Value
2.1.1. Early Forms of Sacral, Social, and Material Values of Antiques
2.1.2. Renaissance Mentality and the Birth of a Systematic Understanding of Antiques as Old and Rare
2.1.3. The Spread of Interest in Antiques Across Europe in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
2.1.4. The Beginnings of a Systematic Study of the Past: Classifications and Styles in Archaeology and Art
2.1.5. Trade and Sentiment: The Antiques Market in Nineteenth Century Europe
2.1.6. Antiques as a Part of Civilization Processes
3. Social and Political Transformations in Russia and the Value of Antiques
3.1. Specificity of Russian Art and Antiques: Borrowing and Adapting
3.2. The Antiques Market in Russia in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
3.3. The Russian Revolution and the Establishment of State Control of the Antiques Market
3.3.1. Accounting for Culture: Nationalization and the Sale of Art and Antiques in the 1920s
3.3.2. Industrialization at the Expense of Culture: Turning Rembrandts into Convoys of Tractors
3.3.3. Future-oriented Ideology and Memory Crisis
3.4. Antiques and Their Value During WWII
3.5. Khruschev’s Housing Policy, the “Thaw” Ideology, and The Fight With Meschanstvo: The Socialist Lifestyle vs. Antiques
3.6. The Emergence of the Illegal Antiques Market in the Soviet Union
3.7. Rehabilitation of the Past and the Return of the Market in the 1990s
4. The International Market for Art and Antiques: Structure and Main Characteristics
4.1. Assessing the Financial Attractiveness of Art and Antiques
4.2. Prices and Economic Cycles: Art and Antiques as Alternative Investments
4.2.1. Returns on Investments in Art and Antiques: Methodological Challenges for Measuring the Worth of Art Objects
4.2.2. Creating “Market Baskets” as a Method of Value Accounting
4.2.3. Value Regressions for Single Objects
4.3. The Attractiveness of Investments in Art and Antiques from a Comparative Perspective
4.4. The Contemporary Market for Antiques and Its Main Characteristics
4.4.1. Market Actors
4.5. The Role of Incomplete Information in Market Coordination
5. Beautiful and Dangerous: An Empirical Study of Antiques Market Coordination in Russia
5.1. The Antiques Trade as an Illegal Market in the Soviet Union: Main Features, and Consequences for the Contemporary Market
5.1.1. Structural Preconditions of the Antiques Market in the 1990s
5.2. The Structure of the Contemporary Antiques Market in Russia
5.3. Market Actors
5.3.1. Buyers
5.3.2. Dealers
5.3.3. Experts and Institutions of Expertise
5.4. A Fight over the Market for Expertise: Museum Brands vs. New Institutions
6. Changing the Value of the Past: An Empirical Study of the Valuation of Antiques
6.1. Formal Criteria for Defining Antiques
6.1.1. “The Past that is Over”: Temporal Definitions of Antique
6.1.2. Levels of Artistic Mastery and Rarity as Criteria for Antiqueness
6.2. What Else Matters? The Typology of Value
6.3. Authenticating Antique Objects: the Field of Technical Expertise
6.3.1. Acquaintance with Tools and a Knowledge of Woods: Technical Authentication
6.3.2. Artist Names as the Markers of Authenticity
6.3.3. “Biography of a Chair”: Research in Provenance as a Part of the Authentication Procedure
6.4. What is the Value of Authenticity: Stylistic Reproductions and Copies on the Market
6.4.1. Replicating the Masterpieces: Creating Valuable Copies
6.4.2. Modern Copies and Replicas: Technology vs. Mastery
6.4.3. Ties to the Past: Originals, Copies and Stylistic Reproductions as Competing Products in the Market for Antiques
6.5. Types of Fakes and Forgery in the Market
6.6. “Reincarnated Signs”: Personalizing Antiques
6.7. “Civilizing” People: The Positional Value of Antiques
6.7.1. Champagne Fountains and Gold vs. Art Deco
7. Valuation in the Russian Antiques Market: Building Institutions, Preserving Networks and Telling Stories
7.1. The Antiques Trade as a Quest for Adventure
7.1.1. How to Embark on a Quest: Market Rules and Practices
7.1.2. Forgery: an Evil and a Functional Good
7.2. Increasing Uncertainty? The Danger of Dissemination of Professional Knowledge
7.3. Networks and Stories vs. Institutions and Expertise
7.3.1. From Singular Objects to Singular Clients: Creating a Mystery for Everyone
7.4. Storytelling as Worth Accounting
7.4.1. Market Stories
7.4.2. Storytelling: Generating Imaginative Value
8. The Cognitive Embeddedness of Valuation
8.1. Antiques as a Representation of Social Order
8.3. Justifications and Conventions
8.4. Stories and Discourses: Combining Classifications and Interpretations
8.5. Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and Confidence
9. Conclusions
9.1. Valuation: History, Transformations, and Cognition
9.1.1. The Importance of the Past
9.1.2. Uncertainty and Ambiguity
9.2. Questioning the Russian Antiques Market
9.2.1. Networks and Institutions
9.2.2. Uncertain Product Quality Meets the Uncertain Quality of Expertise
9.2.3. Reputation and Competition in the Field of Attribution
9.2.4. Exploiting Uncertainty, Promoting Ambiguity
9.2.5. Creating Discoveries, Telling Stories
9.3. Beyond Antiques: What Can We Learn From This Study of Other Markets?
9.3.1. Transformative Context
9.3.2. Singularities
Appendix 1. List of Informants
Appendix 2. Main Questions and Topics for Interviews with Experts
Appendix 3. Main Questions and Topics for Interviews with Ordinary Buyers
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: eDoc: 581565
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/5084
DOI: 10.17617/2.1464922
ISBN: 978-3-946416-00-5
 Degree: PhD



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Title: Studies on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy. IMPRS-SPCE
Source Genre: Series
International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society, Editor              
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