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i don't want to be rude, but i think it is impossible. i am new to the forum and i try to collect small carvings. prices are very different and depends on so much different things. besides the obvious quality, there is; subject, material, design etc..

i like your leaves. you can't ask 'average prices' for such excellent work!


with regards, alice.

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Hi Janel, Hi Alice, i saw ivory netsukes at 150 €, i think it's copies. I saw another ivory netsuke in an antique dealer, it's 500 €, is-it a copy ? I don't know the price of an antique netsuke.On the topic "pricing", Mark Storm tell that you must take 50 $ per hour. The value of a netsuke is just time and raw ?

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There are various factors to consider when pricing one's work. Those factors, and how one values their work, their time at work, and so much more makes a simple definition or explanation not so simple or possible.


I make my living by carving, and have been self-employed since graduation from college in 1972. Therefor I must consider all expenses connected to my work as business expenses: overhead for the studio including the building's expenses (power, heat, repair/maintanence, etc.), business insurance, travel (to shows and for selling), advertisement, photography, etc., what ever goes into making and selling the work, tools, materials, and time, and that there must be some personal income to cover all that owning a home and raising a family requires. It is not easy to quantify all of the time spent with business related activities, but I do record how long it takes to carve a piece.


In one oversimplified theory, all of the expenses for a year, divided by all of the hours spent carving should equal a dollar-per-hour factor that is applied to the total hours that results in a completed piece. That figure would represent the baseline, "wholesale" cannot go lower, price. If one deals with galleries or dealers, this price is what they want to pay you, and if they expect a courtesy discount to make their clients feel they are getting a discounted price deal, you have to add that amount on to the base price, or lose bigtime when it is extracted after the sale.


If you only deal through a dealer, it may be easier to work with pricing. If one also goes to shows and sells work at retail, as I do, pricing becomes a lot more complicated, needing a retail price to compensate for the time involved (a week to ten days) and 2-4 thousand dollars expenses for the show, lodging, travel, etc.


When I began carving wood, the wholesale/retail pricing of my work had been established with the dollar per hour method, but the earlier porcelain work never went over 30-40 hours to complete. The wholesale/retail prices worked for me and for the galleries and clients. When the sculptural porcelain pieces began, so did the pricing headaches as the work time increased. When I moved to wood as the carving material, the work went to 120 to 200+ hours, and the "retail" prices became so high that I feared that I would not be able to sell the work with the usual markup (which might be x 2 or 2.25 depending on the gallery's policy). So, I rarely worked with galleries for several years, instead, bringing my work to the public in juried, high-quality USA shows, with prices at the wholesale level. Such shows are lots of work, lots of hours not paid for, yet bring visibility to the work. The audiences of such shows have collectors who hunt for pieces to add to their collections here in the US, so it has been important to be a part of these shows. Being juried, the shows are not always possible to be accepted in to, so they are risky to rely on. Recent economic times also have added risk to participation with hesitant audiences... I am getting off track...


If on the other hand, one does not rely on the sale of what is carved for one's income, pricing might be quite a bit different. It also will vary according to the country one lives in, the standard of living or wages expectations, and in comparison/conversions between currencies. I know and believe that carvings made in one country, with comparable hours spent creating something, that the selling prices will vary a great deal. This makes it more difficult, or more favorable, for clients or carvers who are involved in an international community.


Yes, raw materials and time are the basic things to consider for pricing when not relying on the carving to pay for your living or business overhead and expenses. Pricing is not a simple subject for a topic!


I look forward to hearing more from others on this subject. The diversity of perspectives of the membership will be interesting to read about.



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Sergio, I put the $50 per hour figure out there as an example only.


When it comes to prices on antiques, they are usually based on previous or similar sales. There is also the perceived value.


Perceived value is what someone thinks the item is worth. This applies not only to pieces in a shop but to your own work as well. Regardless of how much time and materials are involved, I think everyone brings this pricing to their work. What is this really worth? Invariably this is determined by the market or the people who purchase the work. If you put a $1000 price on a piece and after a year or more it does not sell then you can look at that two ways. Either it is not worth the "perceived value" or the right person hasn't come along yet.


Marketing is all about perceived value. Branding by name, marketing by celebrities is all about adding a value to it by association....trying to make the product look like it has value beyond the simple time and material formula. You as a consumer participate in this everyday with even the simplest purchase....art work is different only in that it relies on this perceived value more so than most products.



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Hi all, thanks Janel and Mark. I think that price depend to the carver too. If you are a novice or a great carver, you can't sell at the same price. In France, we are three persons who make netsukes, it's a little marcket, and with the web, people compare with all the other carvers in the world. Like you say Janel, it's not a simple subject, but it's interesting.



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