Antique Appraisals

There are many benefits in and reasons for having your antiques appraised. Interest in collecting antiques is on the rise, especially since the popularity of shows such as Antiques Roadshow have skyrocketed. With this insurgence of collectors brings opportunists. That includes both sides of the table- collectors and appraisers. However, an appraiser has a unique situation. There are two ways an appraiser is to make money: 1) by selling you an appraisal and 2) by lowballing an appraisal and buying the item directly from you. As the latter is a sorry situation to find yourself in, never sell your antiques to the business/individual that appraised them for you. Only under extreme circumstances should you ever do this, so don’t let the appraiser think he may be able to buy it from you.

Recently there has been a market cornered for online appraisers. Let’s face it, we are living in a digital society. Ironically, people are trying the merge the new with the antiquatedâÂ?¦ but it is probably a big mistake. There are all kinds of problems with online appraisals. For instance, there is the fact that the appraiser can never personally see and touch the item. How good is that appraisal going to be? And who in their right minds would want to stake their reputation on the appraisal of something they’ll never be in the same room with? Digital photography and a detailed description can only take you so far in the cyber world. However, some people really want to give online appraisal a shot.

If you do decide to get an online appraisal, tread cautiously. Finding a reputable service online can be done, but they are often outnumbered by hacks and cons. First, you should look carefully at the site itself. Is it professional in appearance? Do they have references, experience? Also, check all of the links. A poorly managed site with broken links is never a good sign when you want to pay for a service. Plus, the circumstances of having an antique appraised online is strange and poses additional challenges. So, ask them what their methods are, how they can guarantee you this appraisal, etc. Always get an appraisal in writing. Period. Whether you are doing it online or not, there should always be a hand-signed document involved.

The best method, however, is to use a reputable local company to take a look at your antique. Remember, you should never lead them to believe that there is a chance you will sell it directly to them. In fact, it may be a good idea to make a habit of saying you are insuring it for prosperity, even if you aren’t. There are things to consider besides reputation as well. One of them is whether or not you intend on hiring a generalist or a specialist. If you have an antique toy truck, for instance, you may want to see someone who specialized in antique toys. Good appraisers have a wealth of knowledge to share about particular objects, especially if they have vested interest in the subject.

Money is definitely a big concern when hiring someone to appraise your antiques. A formal appraisal is almost never done for free. In fact, unless you have some inside connections to the industry, you should always expect to pay for the appraisal. The question is, what is a fair price. Hard to say, without knowing what you are taking in for appraisal. However, there are a few things that you need to consider as far the worth of the appraisal is concerned. Is this an established business doing this job for you? That will have a lot to do with the cost. Also, how much time and effort is put into the appraisal? An original painting by Monet, should you be lucky enough to have one in your possession, will need to be authenticated and studied closer by the appraisal. It is not as easy as walking into a shop and letting some guy give it a once over.

Whatever reasons you have for collecting/owning antiques, appraisals are always a good idea. Perhaps you are considering selling an antique and don’t believe you can fully rely on your own research to accurately appraise the item. Or, you may know exactly what it should be worth but need documentation in order to get the price you are looking for. Many people don’t ever intend on selling their antiques, but they need a third party appraisal in order to insure it. Whatever your reasons for having an appraisal done, make sure you are getting the service you deserve.

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