A study of the market valuation of antique Chinese ceramics
This research describes an attempt to postulate a grounded theoretical understanding of the valuation of objects described as art and antiques. The approach adopted is fundamentally inductive and interdisciplinary. It begins with a discriminating synthesis of the relevant literature from the disciplines of Art History, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics and Psychology. Financial value is strongly correlated with aesthetic value, which is created partially through the process of exchange itself, but largely through the ascribing of 'meaning' to objects through social and historical mechanisms. These mechanisms are examined using consumer behaviour paradigms. The economic notion of 'artistic capital stock' is assessed for its wider applicability. The study focuses on the creation of perceptions of cultural and financial worth, and valuation of antique Chinese ceramics, which through their inter-cultural complexity, are seen as illuminating a breadth of generalisable phenomena. The creation of perceptions is viewed on both the level of encircling cultural predispositions, and on a level of more specific interactions between the consumer and what are viewed as marketing inputs. The methodology adopted is one of cross-reference between qualitatively described observations derived from particiopation in the market, and quantitative behavioural analysis of a database compiled from the auction sales of Sotheby's and Christie's over a five year period. The results indicate that consumers of 'art' are behaviourally similar to generic consumers of any goods. Further they are risk-reducing seekers of autonomy through affiliation, which appears to compete in the fulfilment of their higher order psychological needs. Culturally established mechanisms for the ascription of 'meaning' to 'art' objects are shown to correlate functionality with the creation of brand perceptions through the marketing of fast moving consumer goods. The specific inputs which contribute to the perception of value, are identified and modelled. Recommendations are made regarding a fuller examination of the 'valuation' process and the appropirateness of further examinations of the 'art market' by consumer behaviourists.