Before you make the decision to sell antiques or fine art, we want you to understand exactly what you have, what it is worth, and whether it is suitable for sale at auction. As a full-service auction house, we are here to answer all of these questions.
What's it Worth?
Send us Photos and a Description
When it comes to determining value, a picture is worth a thousand words. Before we accept an item on consignment, we have to see it.
Sending photographs allows our Appraisal Services team to match your property with the most qualified specialty appraiser. Find out the value of your items from the comfort of your own home by taking pictures, gathering information, and sending it all in for an auction evaluation, or verbal opinion of the amount your item may bring at auction.
Typically, you need a written appraisal only for estate planning, tax, or insurance purposes. Skinner provides auction evaluations free of charge and with no obligation to consign, though we take it on good faith that you are considering selling your items at auction.
Meet with an Appraiser in Person
Meeting with a Skinner appraiser is an opportunity to learn about your antiques or fine art in a relaxed, personal, and inspiring environment. Our expert appraisers prefer to see photographs first, and then set up a complimentary appointment if we feel a Skinner auction would be a good fit for your objects of value.
We want to ensure that the appropriate specialists are available during your appointment. You wouldn’t want an American furniture expert looking at your fine violin. When you call to make your appointment, provide us with the number and types of items you are planning to bring so we can make the best match for you.
At your appointment, an experienced appraiser will give you an honest assessment of the current market conditions and will estimate the price your items may bring at auction. There is no charge for these auction estimates and no obligation to consign, but we take it on good faith that coming to an appointment means that you are considering selling your item at auction.
Appointments in Marlborough
All of our specialty departments (with the exception of Fine Jewelry) are based in Marlborough. Call ahead of time to schedule an appointment in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Contact us: 508-970-3299
Appointments in Boston
The Fine Jewelry department is based in Boston. Expert appraisers from our other specialty departments regularly come into Boston for appointments. Contact us to find out when a specialist may be available to meet with you in Boston.
Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Contact us: 617-350-5400
Appointments in Miami
Visit the Miami office in Coral Gables, Florida on any Friday from 10AM to 2PM for an auction evaluation. Contact us to schedule an appointment at another time.
Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Contact us: 305-503-4423
Events Around New England
Have you ever watched Antiques Roadshow? You may have seen Skinner appraisers featured on the show, and wished that you had the opportunity to meet them and ask questions about your own art and antiques.
That opportunity may be waiting in your own backyard. Skinner appraisers enjoy sharing their expertise with the community, and regularly host informative lectures, seminars, gallery walks, and appraisal days in cities and towns around New England. Skinner experts regularly accept consignments on appraisal days, and share their knowledge of the history and value of your property.
The Consignment Process
Skinner brings the very best fine art and objects of value to market in curated specialty auctions. If we feel your material is not a good fit for one of our specialties, or if the value falls below our minimum lot levels, we will be unable to offer it at auction.
If your property has been accepted on consignment, congratulations! You are in the company of experts who will guide you through the consignment and auction process in a warm, approachable environment.
1. Send in Material to be Consigned
When you are invited to consign, you will receive instructions on how to ship the material to Skinner or arrange for an appointment to bring it in to our Marlborough or Boston gallery. If you choose to ship your items, please mark the name of the Skinner appraiser or specialty department who requested your material on the outside of the package, and include a detailed packing list inside along with copies of any email correspondence.
Please keep in mind that any auction estimates you received based on photographs may be revised once an appraiser assesses the item in person.
2. Sign a Consignment Contract
Review your contract carefully before signing. It contains important information on how the auction process works and also outlines the commission rate and fees that you will be charged.
The high and low auction estimates listed in your contract provide an expected range of value for your property, and give the buyer guidelines for potential purchase. The estimate is not a guarantee; your item may sell below or far above the estimate.
For objects of high value, your contract may contain a reserve, or a minimum price at which the item can sell. Most property at Skinner is offered without a reserve, which can work to your advantage since starting the bidding at a low price will often inspire more bidders to join in. Bidder competition is essential to earning a higher final hammer price.
3. Photography, Catalogs, and Marketing
Working with Skinner means worldwide exposure and thoughtful, targeted marketing. This level of commitment and dedication to earning you the maximum value for your consignments takes time. Allow at least 2-3 months from the time you sign a consignment contract to auction.
During this time, our specialists will research and catalog your material, photographers will take high quality pictures, our in-house production team will publish an auction catalog, and our marketing team will plan advertisements, events, and outreach around the auction. This outreach includes email and social media campaigns, a press release, and a dedicated landing page on our website for each auction. A high quality photograph and description of your item will appear in the online auction catalog on a page optimized for web searches.
Skinner takes special care to place your property in the most appropriate specialty auctions. Placing similar material together means attracting a higher number of passionate, motivated buyers.
4. Watch for your Pre-Sale Notice
Two weeks before the auction in which your property is scheduled to sell, you will receive a pre-sale notice in the mail. This notice contains the auction name, number, and date along with the lot numbers of your property. For example, your oil painting may be Lot 408 scheduled to sell in American & European Works of Art Auction #2950B.
5. Attend the Auction
An auction is a fast-paced, thrilling experience for bidders and consignors alike. We recommend attending the auction where your property will sell – it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
If you’re not watching from the audience or your computer when the hammer falls, you can check the prices realized on our website. We update the results continuously during the sale. We report two different results: a hammer price and the price realized, which equals the hammer price plus buyer’s premium. A consignor’s payment is calculated from the hammer price.
In the event that your property fails to sell, we understand your disappointment. We’re disappointed too! Markets are unpredictable, and the auctioneer sometimes has to make the strategic decision to pass a lot rather than sell it for less than its value.
In this situation, you have two choices. You may choose to offer the lot again in a future auction, or you may wish to have your property returned to you. Charges may apply for returned property. The Skinner specialty department handling your consignment can make arrangements for either of these options after the auction.
If your property sold, congratulations! Expect to receive your payment from the Skinner Accounting team 35 days after the auction.