Like all art, the goal in purchasing a bronze sculpture is to identify if the piece in question is real or a replica. We’ve listed eight tips to help aid new collectors in identifying and purchasing a true hot cast bronze.

  1. When possible buy from the artist or a representing gallery. Check the artist website to see what galleries their artwork is found in to ensure it’s a true art piece and not a replica.
  2. To test if you have a molten bronze or a bonded bronze tap a hollow section of the sculpture. If it produces a ringing sound when it is a molten sculpture. A bonded sculpture will sound a dull thud.
  3. Another way to test if a bronze is molten or bonded is to roll it (if size safety allows). If molten you will hear some rattling of ceramic on the inside. This only applies to bronzes that are welded closed.
  4. A real bronze will be colder to the touch than that of a cold cast bronze.
  5. The final way to tell if the bronze is molten or bonded is to scratch away the patina in an inconspicuous area. If it’s a true molten bronze, the scratch will reveal a bright gold color (not recommended). Alternately check the very bottom of the bronze where patina covering may not have been applied.
  6. Focus on finding original sculptures appraised by a professional.
  7. Artist create limited runs of a piece called “Editions.” Limited editions typically increase the value of the piece. Often the editions are also limited due to the molds used to cast the piece wearing out. The value of an edition also is determined by the fame and demand of the artist.
  8. Questions to ask to determine the value and legitimacy of an artist work are:
    1. What has he done?
    2. Where has he been seen?
    3. What of his has been sold?
  9. Chasing is the process of removing any welding marks. This process requires extreme skill, attention to detail and lots of time. Rod marks, smoothly polished areas, or mechanical etchings may be signs of a lower quality bronze such as one made in a product foundry.
  10. Check the dimensions. Hot casting a bronze to cause the bronze to expand when heated and contract when cooled. A finished cooled casting will be 2-3% smaller in size. Check the finished size against the precast. If smaller you may have an original.
  11. As you grow your collection, you will run out of space. When that happens to sell the pieces you value less or pass them on to loved ones to make room for new collections.
  12. Most importantly as a collector, you should love the piece you are purchasing. Cash value and Use value are the two factors that make up the value of a piece. Use value, in my opinion, is the most important. You should love and be inspired by the piece and pay the cash value that makes you happy to own it.

Featured image: Show of Strength