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How to Find and Choose and Antiques Appraiser Near You

Antique appraisals are a crucial step in understanding the true value of the item in the marketplace. A skilled appraiser carefully studies the history, authenticity, and condition of each item to determine their worth. Unfortunately, finding skilled antique appraisers near you can be a challenge. It is a worthy pursuit as marketplaces can vary regionally around the country so finding an appraiser near you who understands local market trends can save you a lot of headaches. 

This article seeks to provide some simple steps you can follow to connect with reputable local appraisers. Whether you need a quick valuation for possible re-sale of your items, or you are looking for a more in-depth assessment for insurance or estate planning purposes, discovering a professional nearby is crucial. 

For those eager to get started with an online option, Penrose Appraisals offers quick and reasonable online appraisals. This service is particularly useful if you want a preliminary evaluation before seeking a more comprehensive appraisal.

If you prefer in-person assessments, and are located in the greater Northwest Pennsylvania area (Cleveland to Erie to Buffalo and down to Pittsburgh), Penrose Appraisals can also provide tailored appraisal services, especially for significant occasions like insurance, charitable donations, or equitable distribution. 

Understanding Antique Appraisals

A formal appraisal stands apart from other, regular evaluations of items. An appraisal is not just a price tag, but is a comprehensive and professional determination of value. The determination involves consideration of various key factors such as age, rarity, and provenance that all can influence an item's worth.

An integral part of this process is the certified appraiser. A professional appraiser is one who has received training and area certified in the accurate assessment of value, authenticity, condition, and other important aspects of antiques, fine art, and other personal property. With their specialized knowledge and experience, appraisers offer impartial and reliable evaluations that can be trusted by both buyers and sellers alike.

The Appraisal Process

There are several important steps when conducting an appraisal:

  1. Research. The appraiser will conduct a thorough investigation into the history of the antique, its origins, and similar items.

  2. Examination. Careful inspection of the item to note any flaws, identify makers or artists' marks, evaluate wear and tear, and determine materials - all with an eye toward valuation.

  3. Market value determination. Typically, this involves analysis of comparable sales in the appropriate market. Here, the appraiser may need to consult online subscription databases, communicate with dealers, and/or conduct other research in order to uncover the needed information.

Reasons to Seek and Antique Appraisal

There are various reasons that someone might need or want an appraisal:

  1. Insurance coverage. Standard homeowner's insurance policies may or may not provide adequate coverage for antiques, collectibles, and other valuable possessions. An appraisal can provide the neutral, third party expertise that both the homeowner and the insurance company can rely upon when determining the right amount of coverage and when settling any claims.

  2. Charitable contributions. When making non-cash charitable contributions, an appraisal is often wise, and sometimes required by IRS rule. 

  3. Estate settlement. An appraisal can help in the equitable distribution of assets among heirs. 

  4. Informed buying / selling. The appraisal can help ensure fair pricing during transactions.

These are just a few of the reasons that an appraisal can be useful. A proper appraisal serves as a key tool in managing valuable assets.

How to Find and Choose An Antique Dealer Near You

  1. Keep an eye out for antique appraisal events and workshops near you. These gatherings are an opportunity to meet face-to-face with appraisers who have a deep understanding of what is required for an accurate and reliable appraisal. You can look for these in many locations: antique shops, antique malls, local libraries, senior centers, etc. The most famous of these events is, of course, Antiques Roadshow, the long-running PBS series. 

Benefits of Attending 

  • Learn directly from experts. Appraisal fairs often feature seasoned appraisers who have knowledge of a wide-range of items and types of antiques.

  • Immediate feedback. Bring an item, and if yours is chosen, you can walk away with a professional assessment, giving you new knowledge about its value and its history.

  • Community connections. Such an event will likely attract others with interests similar to your own. Perhaps you'll find a new club to join!

2. Use online directories. Most appraisers belong (or should belong) to one of the major professional appraiser organizations. Those are: The International Society of Appraisers (ISA), the Appraisers Association of America (AAA), and the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). Each of them has a "find an appraiser" feature on their website which allows you to enter your address and then be shown a list of their members sorted by distance from you. You can then view their profiles, see what their areas of expertise are, how long they have been in the business, etc. These are excellent ways to find an appraiser that you can be assured has achieved a rigorous set of education and ethical standards in order to become members. Each of these associations is well-known and respected within the antiques world. 

Evaluating the Credibility of Antique Appraisers

When you are looking to work with an appraiser, you should first evaluate his or her credentials. It's important to be able to tell whether the appraiser is well qualified for the job. The credibility of an appraiser can have a great effect on the accuracy and reliability of the work done on your behalf. But verifying the appraiser's credentials is about more than just getting good value for your money. It's also about building confidence in the person you are entrusting with this important role in managing your household and its finances. Here are some important things to look for.

  1. Professional certifications. The federal government does not license appraisers. Some states do, but most do not. Instead, appraisers receive certifications from the various professional associations mentioned earlier. Certified appraisers have received specialized training and promise to follow a set of ethical guidelines. In addition, appraisers should be USPAP certified, which means they have passed an examination indicating their familiarity and promise to adhere to the set of professional standards known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). These have been promulgated by The Appraisal Foundation, authorized by Congress as the source for appraisal standards and appraisal qualifications. 

  2. Educational Background. You can ask about the appraiser's education in the field of antiques. Keep in mind that not all appraisers have received formal higher education level training. Continuing education coursework is also common.

  3. Experience. As with all professions, the longer an appraiser has been at their job and the more experience they have acquired, the more capable they generally are.

  4. Specialization. A great number of excellent appraisers consider themselves generalists. And most have networks of other appraisers, dealers, and other professionals they can consult. But if you have a specialized collection, seeking out an appraiser who has specialized in that area can be a help.

  5. Insurance and bonding. When hiring an appraiser, it's crucial to ensure that they possess professional liability insurance. This coverage provides you with protection in the event of any errors or oversights that may arise during the appraisal process.

  6. Transparent Fees. You should understand how the appraiser charges for their services. Clear communication about fees will help you avoid any surprises later on.

Penrose Appraisals works closely with clients in the NW PA area and beyond* to help them with appraisals of antiques, cars, art, collectibles, and many other kinds of personal property. Give us a call to start a conversation about how our appraisal services can help you.

*My service area extends generally from Buffalo, NY to Cleveland, OH and south to Pittsburgh, PA.


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