One piece of advice I wish I had gotten as my collection started to grow, and certainly when I ordered my second portfolio, was to start and maintain a spreadsheet.
I gather there are at least a few other collectors that do this, but I wonder if it is as widespread as it ought to be (imho).
I started a spreadsheet when I started to think about separate insurance for the collection, and once I started and implemented a rule that a piece cannot be framed or put into a portfolio UNTIL I enter the details into the spreadsheet, it has been easy to maintain.
However, I still haven’t fully entered everything I bought before I started it, particularly in the heady first year of collecting, between cons/ebay/online. Most of it is archived in emails, but the con pieces are the ones you want to record asap because there is often no written record of how many benjamins you handed over to someone in a crowded line.
Having it organized in a spreadsheet is much more convenient, and also gives me access to DATA!
I track TITLE / DATE PURCHASED / MARKETPLACE / ARTIST(S) / PRICE / DATE SOLD / HISTORY / PHOTO / NOTES
TITLE - Self explanatory
DATE PURCHASED - I’ve settled on the day that I physically receive the art, but I can definitely see the value in adding DATE(S) PAID and changing this value to DATE RECEIVED. Particularly with commissions…
MARKETPLACE - This is the Where and Who (if not direct from artist).
ARTIST(S) - I try to include everyone I know has touched the piece.
PRICE - SUM this column for a thoughtful pause about your life and choices. Also, for me this is a single amount that represents the amount I put in. I round up and down at my discretion. Buyer's premium is included, when applicable.
DATE SOLD - Date I mail it out and I also record the amount in this column. I very rarely sell so this works for me, but I suppose someone who trades more would want more details (when payment was received, how payment was received etc)
HISTORY - One of the most important elements for me. As much information as I can gather about who owned the piece before me.
PHOTO - Not strictly necessary, and does make the spreadsheet file much larger.
NOTES - Any other details, like medium of the piece, artist sent a signed print too, on multiple boards etc.
It’s by no means perfect. One column I’d add is DATE OF CREATION - it would be interesting to see what the average age of my collection is, value of collection by era etc.
I know of one other board member who tracks some CAF stats as well, such as number of likes and comments. I’d be curious to see what others like to record.