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With so many antique dealers, how do I know who to go to for an appraisal?

01/02/2011 04:10pm -- Anonymous (not verified)

I have a wood carved, hand-painted bedroom set from Rockford Cabinet Company.


Joseph's picture
Submitted by Joseph on

This is a great question which I think is applicable to any kind of item that you want to have appraised, not only for furniture.  Choosing the right appraiser can often be a daunting and stressful experience because it comes down to finding someone you can trust.  The trust factor will come down to how much the person really knows - their level of expertise, as well as how trustworthy the person is - will they give you an honest price or are they simply interested in having you sell your item to them for a steal.

When I have an item that I truly want accurate valuation for then I will usually do a few things.  First, I will go on the Internet and learn as much as I can about the item - being forearmed is forewarned.  Sometimes you can find your exact item and other times you may only find similar items; of course Instappraisal is a great place to start.  If I find something similar enough to my item then I'll try to learn all of the specific details about it.  If there's a photo or a few photos on the Internet then comparing your item can often yield useful clues, such as whether your item (or perhaps the photo's item) is genuine or not, some history, and if you are lucky some hints to value as well.  Basically I try to learn as much as I can about my item BEFORE I seek out any appraiser.

After I've done my due diligence I will then seek out possible appraisers to consider, again beginning with an Internet search for local appraisers, or if the item is a piece of art then I may seek out one of the more reputable appraisal firms such as Southeby's or Bonham's.  After I find at least a few appraisers in my local area I will then call each of them and ask them about their expertise, their fees, and generally try to get a feel for how knowledgeable they are and what their character is (often the most difficult part).  After I find a few appraisers that I'm satisfied with going further with I will then do more research on the Internet and try to find appraiser reviews and recommendations.  You can sometimes use sources like Yelp for finding reviews about local antique stores and appraisers, and you can find some appraisers and any reviews on Instappraisal too.  I will then pick a few that I will take my item to and then compare notes and information amongst all of the results.  I usually make it a practice to NEVER sell my item to an appraiser.  This is something you can ultimately do, but only after you are certain as to what your item is and its value.  You can go to antique dealers around your area, but again, some may try to take advantage of your inexperience and intentionally undervalue or unknowingly overvalue your item.  Again, you'll want to take your item to at least a few dealers/appraisers, I personally try to find at least 3-5 of them.

Finding a reputable qualified appraiser can often be hit or miss, but if you do your homework and don't rush into it then you'll often be well armed at finding the best people whom you can ultimately trust and receive a fair valuation.

Hope this helps you.

- Joseph

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