Appraisals; How, Where, When, Why

Everyday I receive calls from people seeking appraisals, when in fact they want to sell their art. Exactly, what is an appraisal? How do you find an appraiser? What is the appraisal process? How much does it cost?

An appraisal is an opinion about the authenticity, identification, dating and monetary value of an object. Different purposes have different values. Insurance appraisals seek to determine the replacement value in the event of loss. Appraisals for tax purposes will determine the Fair Market value which is defined as the price a willing buyer and a willing seller might reasonably be expected to agree upon without duress or coercion.

Not all appraisers are created equal. Appraising specific categories such as Jade, Paintings, ceramics and metalwork requires specialized knowledge. I am a specialist appraiser in Jade, metalwork, ancient glass and sculpture. I provide my opinion to museums, collectors, governmental agencies, insurance companies, estate administrators and other appraisers. Choose an appraiser who knows the area you wish to have appraised.

The initial contact with the appraiser is very important for both parties. There has to be a modicum of trust on each side. Tell the appraiser what you have, how many pieces and where they were acquired. Be organized. Have a master list of the objects. This will save you time and money. It will make the appraiser’s job more efficient. Photography can be done with cell phone cameras, and the images easily sent to the appraiser.

The appraiser will provide a proposal of how much time will be required and his hourly rate. It may be necessary for the appraiser to travel on site to examine the objects. In this event, the client will pay a daily rate plus reasonable expenses such as travel expense, meals and incidentals. The results of the appraisal may be given either in an oral report or a written report. Oral reports are more economical. Written reports are required for tax purposes and require more time for preparation and therefore will cost the client more.Remember, an appraisal is the expert opinion about the objects. It is not a statement of fact.

And finally, an appraisal is for the sole use of the client and is not to be used to flog his objects to third parties. Nor shall the name of the appraiser be used to market the objects which are the appraisal subject. Choose your appraiser with care, be truthful, provide all invoices and paperwork. A successful result is a win win situation for all involved. Good luck!

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