How to Get the Most out of your Antiques Appraisal
After you choose an auction house to work with, you need to get your property evaluated by an expert appraiser. This can be done online, in person, or at your home.
How to Submit Photos for an Auction Evaluation
If you’re submitting photos via email or online via a company’s website, make sure the objects are photographed in focus and well lit.
Skinner recommends sending (at most) three different pictures of each item for an auction evaluation:
1. The whole object, well lit and in focus.
2. A detail shot showing a signature, stamp, or label; or a close-up of any damage or condition issues.
3. A photo of any supporting documentation such as bills of sale, notes, letters, or prior written appraisals.
What to Bring to an Evaluation Appointment
If you’d prefer to bring your antiques and fine art items to the auction house’s gallery, don’t just drop by. Call first to make an appointment, to be sure the right specialist will be on hand to view your property. Bring all supporting documentation with you and tell the appraiser all you know about an object—how long it has been in your family, where it came from, when it was purchased, who owned it, and how it came into your possession. On occasion, we find that these stories are little more than family lore, but most times they can provide clues to an item’s provenance and authenticity.
How to Prepare for a House Call
If an appraiser is making a house call, have all objects in question readily available and easily accessible. As with an appraisal appointment, gather all supporting paperwork in advance. There’s no need to prepare or clean objects first, and in fact, experts discourage it. Seeing objects in “as is” condition helps an appraiser understand an object’s history and well-meaning but overzealous cleaning can sometimes damage a delicate object, or remove patination and original surface.
Receive Auction Estimates; Then Consign
The appraiser should provide a verbal auction estimate for each item he or she views. This will be a range in price that they expect the item to sell for at auction. Upon receiving those estimates, you can then decide which pieces you would like to consign. For furniture or large consignments, a truck will be scheduled to gather the material at a later date. If an appraiser tells you your item is not auctionable, trust their advice. New items and items below a certain price point typically don’t sell well at auction. Both the auction house and the consignor want objects to achieve maximum value at auction.
Watch for my future blog post on Consigning Property to Auction, Part III: Understanding the Auction Schedule.