Preparing for the Appraiser’s Exam
• Locate all items in advance of the appraiser’s arrival and make them accessible.
• Share pertinent records about when and where items were purchased, including their receipts. Receipts often have a painting’s title, which may or may not appear on the back of the frame or on an attached plaque. Artworks without a title may be determined if the artist is still living. Unfortunately, some artist’s do not remember titles or record them in a permanent ledger. Not all art bears the date or dates it was completed. The date of the receipt could assist in dating the artwork. The goal is to create as complete a record about the artwork as possible. Don’t slow the process down or create an opportunity for the document to be less complete by holding back information.
• Allocate enough time for the appraiser to carry out the inspection and photography. Appraisers typically need about 15 minutes an item for both activities. While the appraiser often enjoys visiting with clients, he or she must focus on the task at hand in order to not take additional time or overlook pertinent information.
Discussing Value With a Prospective Appraiser
Identify what you need to have appraised by providing the following information:
• Artist’s first and last name
• Medium such as bronze, painting, or print
• Condition, especially if you are not sure if the item has enough value to warrant an appraisal.
State why you need the appraisal.
The same item can have a different value depending on the purpose of the valuation. Appraisers ask why you need an appraisal document because they want to investigate value for the appropriate market. Imagine that you are buying this item instead of having it appraised. Would you expect to pay the same price for the item at a flea market or at an estate sale as you would in a high-end antique shop or art gallery? Different purposes mandate different markets, which translates to correspondingly different value levels.
Identify the timeframe needed for the appraisal document’s completion.
Is this a rush job? If there are 200 items and your moving van will arrive in less than 60 days, this is a rush job. Also, the appraiser may have too many active assignments to meet your desired timeframe. If this is the case, the appraiser may redirect you to someone else who can fit your appraisal into his or her schedule.
Identify if there are special conditions for examining your artworks.
For example, does the appraiser need to bring a ladder? Will the appraiser need to wade into a pool to examine a sculpture? Will the appraiser need to wear washable clothing? While unforeseen events do happen at most appraisal inspections, pre-planning keeps them to a minimum.