Mike Ratcliffe does furniture appraisals (including antique furniture) and jewelry appraisals in Tulsa and Northeast Oklahoma. He also participates in appraisal fairs for nonprofit organizations. Please contact us for information.
Too often when you hear the word appraisal you think only of the phrase “What’s it worth?” An appraisal is designed to accomplish far more than that; in fact, valuation is only a portion of what an appraisal is designed to accomplish.
Purpose of an Appraisal
An appraisal can serve a multitude of purposes.
Homeowner’s Insurance- Placing a proper description and measurements with you contents, as well as a valuation. This is necessary in case of fire, theft, or damage.
To settle disputes about the value of personal property.
Equitable Distribution and Probate-
To determine value of personal property to be divided among heirs, or to determine total value of residential contents. Also, if you do so at time of preparing trust or will, you can include all pertinent facts so your heirs will understand the provenance of this piece. (example: this came from Mom’s Aunt Sally)
Here’s the interesting one of the group, What’s the value of the piece after repair? Has it been de-valued in any way? What was the value before this happened?
Elements of an Appraisal
How often do you inherit or possess something with absolutely no idea of its use or purpose? This not only answers that, but places the item in its historical context.
This, in the case of furniture is what cabinet wood is used in manufacturing the item. Different woods on early pieces are a clue to the region of manufacture. This is also where you learn is it sterling silver, Sheffield plate (rolled silver on copper) or silver plate. Those letters EPNS stand for electro-plated nickel silver. The difference between pottery, porcelain, and stoneware plays a role here.
Is it hand-made or machine-made? Some items even have construction techniques that are peculiar to a specific region of the world or to a specific region of a country. Example, Chinese furniture has major joints that are at a blind mortise which appears on the surface as a line running at a 45 degree angle.
Here’s one I wish many would include for their heirs. Who owned it? Where did it come from?
How big is it? If it were destroyed or damaged this becomes very important to you and your insurance company.
Are there cracks, chips, repaired or replaced parts? We all know a realtor screams, “location, location, location”. The appraiser cries, “condition, condition, condition”.
This is the professional word for “How old is it?” or “When was it made?”
The cash value is arrived at AFTER all of the above, this is the ending NOT starting point.
Mike Ratcliffe performs appraisals, based not upon what He has read in a book, but based upon 37 years of industry experience. The methodology employed in appraising furniture is the same methodology used by many. Yes, he gets underneath, pulls items out from the wall, and removes drawers. This is the only true way to appraise an item of furniture.
Google may tell you something but it won’t tell you everything. An Ebay search doesn’t work either because items can be over priced or not accurately described.