Choosing an Appraiser for your Antiques and Fine Art
Tips on Finding a Competent Appraiser
- Obtain a recommendation from someone you trust.
Check with local antique dealers, antique shop owners, consignment shops or your local insurance agent about trustworthy appraisers in your community. If you don't have someone who can give you a recommendation then you can contact one of the three professional appraisal organizations: Appraisers Association of America (AAA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA) or the International Society of Appraisers (ISA).
- Assess the type of collection that you have.
Does the collection include various categories of items such as furniture, silver or china? Do you have a specific item that requires a specialist rather than a generalist? You need to find an appraiser with a skill set that is appropriate to your collection. If, for instance, you are a collector of early Greek artifacts you may want to find a specialist in that area.
- Once you have found a couple of appraisers to choose from, you may want to compare their levels of experience.
You should hire someone from an appraisal organization since these appraisers have met basic requirements (typically three to five years of experience and testing in their specialty). It is generally better to chose a certified appraiser because these appraisers have a minimum of five years of experience and have passed proctored exams in their appropriate fields of expertise. You should also hire someone that has taken and passed the USPAP exam.
- Ask the appraiser for their resume.
Look for their experience and areas of expertise and see if they have taken any examinations. Do they have any special training? Do they continue to take coursework in the antiques and fine art field? Do they attend professional conferences?
- Ask the appraiser for a sample appraisal report.
All appraisals should state clearly in the report that they are USPAP compliant. The appraisal should include a statement of purpose, a statement from the appraiser of their objectivity and the appraiser's signature. There should be full descriptions and identification of the objects or items being appraised as well as a firm statement of value. The condition of the objects should be noted including their provenance when known and finally there should be a discussion of how the appraiser arrived at their values.
- Ask the appraiser to explain their fee structure.
Fees should never be commission based or depend upon the value of the appraised items. Charging commission based fees are grounds for expulsion from a professional appraisal association and can render an appraisal void in federal court. Fees should be quoted on an hourly, daily or set rate.
- An appraiser should always be honest with you about the items they feel comfortable appraising and which ones they don't.
If they can't appraise all of the items, they should be able to suggest specialist appraisers. These specialists can work together with your appraiser to produce one report for all your items or you can decide to work with each appraiser separately.
Katherine Yellen, ISA CAPP, AAA
Certified for Antiques, Fine Art, and Residential Contents
International Society of Appraisers (ISA)
Appraisers Association of America (AAA)
203-438-9228 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecticut & Westchester County