Guidelines and requirements for submitting searches of ancient, Asian and ethnographic art

Following the guidelines below should lead to an ALR certificate being issued with as few additional queries being addressed to you as possible, thus speeding up the process.  These guidelines reflect the ALR’s current standards and practice, but these will inevitably evolve over time.

Please note that these requirements may be applied to any type of object that the ALR deems to fit within this category.

Requirements for searching

To search ancient, Asian and ethnographic art against our database and issue a certificate the ALR needs information covering two areas: the item, and its provenance.

Item information required:

  • Image
  • Description
  • Civilization or artist (as well as other possible attributions), and place of origin
  • Date or period
  • Medium
  • Dimensions
  • Unique marks, e.g. inscriptions (with translations) or inventory numbers

Provenance information required as a minimum:

(1)   Current Ownership Details, which should include details of where and when the item was acquired and the nature (or name) and location of the current owner; for example: ‘UK Private Collection, acquired at Bonhams London in 2014’.


(2)   Previous Provenance with a date, in the form e.g. ‘Aldo Branco Collection, Ascona, before 1969’; or ‘London private collection, 1970s’; etc. This Previous Provenance will need to extend prior to 2000 and without it the ALR will not be able to issue a certificate, although the ALR may confirm whether the item is on the database or not.

Please note that the above requirement is a minimum. For certain pieces the ALR may request further information and/or documents to support the provenance before issuing a certificate.

Guidelines for searching

  • Please provide all known provenance information, as well as details of any publications or exhibitions. The more that can be provided, the less likely it is that further information will need to be requested.
  • If you have searched the same item before, or have the details of a search carried out by a third party, please include the past search reference number in your current search request, so that the ALR can compare any research previously undertaken and avoid duplication that will slow down the process of issuing a certificate.
  • Where items are searched with insufficient provenance or documentation it will not be possible to issue a certificate. If you need a certificate we recommend making sure that you secure all necessary information from the seller to you, or your consignor.