Make the Most of your Online Antiques Appraisal
An online antiques appraisal, called an auction evaluation, is the quickest and easiest way to get an expert appraiser’s opinion. Best of all, a Skinner online auction evaluation is free of charge.
7 Tips for your Online Antiques Evaluation
Please submit just one item at a time for evaluation using the online auction evaluation form. Read about getting an evaluation for a large collection or estate.
These seven tips will help you get the most out of your online evaluation:
1. Take a good picture
Pictures really are worth a thousand words – when they’re in focus, that is! Look at your photographs before sending them – are they blurry? Dark? Washed out? You might want to try again. The better your image, the more an expert appraiser will be able to tell you about the item.
For the best results, take the item outside in daylight, and set it on a flat, uncluttered area such as a table or deck. If you’re taking a photo inside, try placing the item in front of a light-colored backdrop such as a bedsheet or wall and make sure the area is well lit. Use your digital camera’s automatic focus, and take a color photograph of the entire item.
2. Take pictures of important details or condition issues
Once you’ve taken a picture of the whole item, well lit and in focus, don’t stop there! Look over the item for any identifying marks, interesting details, or condition issues. Maybe your silver tea set has a maker’s mark stamped on the bottom, or perhaps your antique chest of drawers has a broken foot. The appraiser needs to see these details in order to provide you with an accurate assessment of value.
Take close-up photographs of any important details you notice. Use your camera’s macro settings to ensure a focused close-up image.
3. Get out your measuring tape
The more information you include with your online auction evaluation form, the better. We will ask you for a detailed description of your item including as much of the information below as possible. If you don’t know, don’t worry. It’s our job to research the answers.
- Artist or maker
- Medium or material
- Dimensions in inches
- Identifying marks or signatures
- Country of origin
- Period and style
- Number of items in a set or service
4. Attach any paperwork or other important information
Do you have identifying documents? A receipt of purchase? A previous written appraisal? Either take photographs of any relevant documents or scan them in to a computer to send with your auction evaluation form.
We also want to know everything that you know about the item. The following information is often helpful:
- How long has the item been in your family or your possession?
- Who has owned it?
- Where did it come from and when was it purchased or gifted?
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.
Fill out the form completely, including all of the information you gathered about your item. Attach up to three color JPG images. We recommend that you attach one image of the whole item, one close-up of any identifying details or condition issues, and one image of any documentation.
If you have more than three pictures to send, contact our Appraisal Services team at 508-970-3299 for assistance.
Click the “submit form” button only once. There will be a delay as your images are uploaded. Depending on the size and number of images you have attached, it may take up to two minutes for the upload to complete.
6. Don’t worry if you missed a consignment deadline
Skinner’s twenty specialty departments hold auctions on a rotating schedule. Even if you’ve missed one consignment deadline, another auction will be coming soon.
In fact, one secret to auction success is consigning your property early. Consigning well in advance of an auction date gives the auction house the necessary time it takes to research, catalog, photograph, advertise, market, and promote your pieces to buyers, often resulting in higher prices for your property.
7. Keep an open mind
Antiques reality TV shows make it seem like there’s a priceless treasure lurking in everyone’s home. You hear about it all the time – the missing Aubrey Beardsley print found hanging in a bathroom, or the antique moon shawl pulled out of a box in the basement. The truth is, stories like this are few and far between. Rare objects are rare for a reason – not very many people own them.
Skinner expert appraisers receive hundreds of auction evaluation requests every week, and unfortunately we are unable to respond personally to every request. We do read every message, and if your property is a good fit for a Skinner auction and the value exceeds our minimum lot level, we will respond within three to four weeks.
In your email response, the Skinner appraiser will provide a professional opinion of the value of your item. This auction estimate is based on expert knowledge of the current market and comparisons to similar items that have sold recently.
Trust the appraiser’s opinion, and remember that an auction estimate is not a price tag. Markets fluctuate – an antique dresser that was worth $10,000 ten years ago may be worth $5,000 today, while a Chinese vase that used to be worth just $300 thirty years ago could be worth $3,000 now.
If you are asked to consign with Skinner, congratulations! We take it on good faith that you submitted an evaluation form because you are considering selling your item at auction.