The Appraisal of Antiques

You may be the owner of a collection of antiques, or you may have just a few prized pieces. In either case, at some point you may decide to have your antique items appraised to determine their value on the current market.

Antique Appraisal for Insurance

It's important to be certain that the insurance on your antiques covers them for their full current value. If you rent your home, and your antiques are part of your home decoration, there is renters' insurance available to cover personal property. Your antiques will need to be valued in order to be covered in case of earthquake, fire, flood, theft, or any other damage to them. If you own your home, you will doubtless carry homeowners' insurance with insurance coverage for personal property. You should make very sure the policy also covers your antiques.

Antique Appraisal for an Estate Sale

Many people have the sad experience of losing someone they love, someone who had a collection of antiques. If you are in this position, do not underestimate the value of calling in a qualified appraiser to value the antiques. Even if the estate is not to be put up for sale, but rather will be divided among various family members, an appraisal is advisable. With this information in hand, the family will be able to dispose fairly of the items among themselves.

Antique Appraisal During Divorce

When two people decide to divorce, it may be necessary to obtain an appraisal of jointly-owned antiques, to determine a fair division of the marital property. If you have not had a recent antique appraisal, this would definitely be the time to get one. Often people believe their antiques are more valuable than they really are. On the other hand, sometimes a piece is revealed to be much more valuable than expected.

Getting Ready for the Antique Appraisal

Before anything else, be sure to make a complete list of the things that will be appraised, including the location of each item. Items like dishes and glassware should be cleaned and polished. However, any metal pieces, furniture, or other wooden items should not be cleaned before appraisal. Many such items have a patina, or a special finish, that could be damaged by the use of cleaning products. The loss of this finish could have a negative impact on the piece's value. Since your appraiser's fee will be an hourly one, it's important to make the appraisal visit as efficient as possible.

Any documentation regarding the history of ownership of your pieces should be ready for the appraiser to examine. Such documentation is referred to as an item's 'provenance,' and can include, for example: sales receipts, certificates of authenticity, and any written information or articles about an artist, or about a specific piece. In addition, family records or letters describing an antique, with any information about where it was made and by whom, and who previous owners have been, can also increase an item's value.

It is critical for the owner of antiques to completely disclose to the appraiser all known flaws in any pieces. For example, if you've been camouflaging the chipped edge of a Sandwich glass pitcher by turning it to the wall, you need to show the appraiser. Always disclose anything that is in less than perfect condition. Only then will your antique appraisal be completely accurate.

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