The time comes for all of us to think about the future of a lifetime’s accumulation of possessions. Hopefully the senior members of your family have made (and written down) their decisions about important heirloom items to be passed on to specific individuals: great-grandfather’s gold watch, the wedding present Tiffany lamp, and so on.
There may also be items of value and interest, and even sizable specialized collections, that relatives can’t integrate into their own homes. Maybe you have inherited or acquired antiques and collectibles that you want to liquidate. Perhaps the accumulated value in these belongings might be best used in providing for eldercare.
Whatever the reason, when it’s time to move on, literally and/or figuratively, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get a knowledgeable, objective opinion of the monetary value of personal property. A carefully selected auction house can provide accurate, up-to-the-minute valuation and help to unlock that value through the auction process.
Skinner Inc., a Boston-based full-service auction house with several regional East Coast offices and an international following, has decades of experience in helping clients to maximize the financial potential of their treasures.
It’s easy to start with a free online evaluation of a few items that you believe may have exceptional value. There are complete instructions and helpful tips about the process at Bonhams Skinner. Click on “Selling” at the top of the home page. Skinner’s website also has information about regularly scheduled in-person valuation days. These take place by appointment at convenient locations in Massachusetts, New York, Maine, and Florida.
In either case, you will get an expert verbal estimate of auction value. This is not an appraisal, which is not necessary for auction purposes. (A formal appraisal is a written report usually only required for insurance, tax, or estate planning.) You’ll also be notified if your item(s) have sufficient value and are a suitable fit for an upcoming auction.
If a large collection or an entire estate is involved, an in-depth expert valuation is in order. At Skinner, this involves a home visit by one or more specialists. The process begins with a call to the Appraisal Services team at 508-970-3299. The more information you can provide about the property in question (estimated age, provenance, names of artists or makers, bills of sale, and other documents), the better you can be matched with an appraiser or appraisers who have extensive experience assessing the type of material you own.
Eldercare is an increasingly important issue, both for seniors and their families. There are many excellent options, but the costs can be very high. One way to meet those costs is to unlock the value of possessions that no longer meet present needs, and by doing so, provide for future ones. For many kinds of personal property, auction sale can provide a safe, dignified, and profitable path forward.
As LaGina Austin, Skinner’s Director of Appraisals and Auction Services, points out, both the auction house and the consignor have a shared goal: to achieve maximum value with minimum stress and uncertainty.
The prospect of parting with treasured possessions can provoke anxiety; it also presents exciting possibilities. The emphasis is on the latter at Skinner, with 20 specialty departments including fine and decorative arts, jewelry, modern design, musical instruments, science and technology, wine, and many others. When the time comes to consider your own or a family member’s eldercare or downsizing requirements, you will want an auction partner that’s small enough to be attentive and responsive to client needs, large enough to attract attention and bidders in the global marketplace. At Bonhams Skinner you will find answers to your questions.
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This piece was written by Skinner New York Regional Director, Katie Banser-Whittle, for WAG Magazine in 2021.