Object ID is the international documentation standard for identifying art and other cultural objects. Though used primarily by police forces, customs agencies, museums, the art trade, valuers, and the insurance industry, this checklist is no less useful to the private collector for recording details of each artwork in a collection. As collections grow and artworks begin to be loaned, donated, appraised and insured, many collectors and/or their consultants use collection management software such as Artsystems. Having this information already on file will make the job of filling out the data fields less of a headache.
Object ID is easy to use. Follow the checklist and try to answer as many of the questions as possible.
Object ID Checklist
Photographs are of vital importance in identifying and recovering stolen objects. In addition to overall views, take close-ups of inscriptions, markings, and any damage or repairs. If possible, include a scale or object of known size in the image.
Answer these questions:
Type of Object
What kind of object is it (e.g., painting, sculpture, clock, mask)?
Materials & Techniques
What materials is the object made of (e.g., brass, wood, oil on canvas)? How was it made (e.g., carved, cast, etched)?
What is the size and/or weight of the object? Specify which unit of measurement is being used (e.g., cm., in.) and to which dimension the measurement refers (e.g., height, width, depth).
Inscriptions & Markings
Are there any identifying markings, numbers, or inscriptions on the object (e.g., a signature, dedication, title, maker’s marks, purity marks, property marks)?
Does the object have any physical characteristics that could help to identify it (e.g., damage, repairs, or manufacturing defects)?
Does the object have a title by which it is known and might be identified (e.g., The Scream)?
What is pictured or represented (e.g., landscape, battle, woman holding child)?
Date or Period
When was the object made (e.g., 1893, early 17th century, Late Bronze Age)?
Do you know who made the object? This may be the name of a known individual (e.g., Thomas Tompion), a company (e.g., Tiffany), or a cultural group (e.g., Hopi).
Write a Short Description
This can also include any additional information, which helps to identify the object (e.g., color and shape of the object, where it was made).
Keep It Secure
Having documented the object, keep this information in a secure place.