• What formal, tested training has the appraiser taken?
• What training, testing and certifications does the appraiser currently hold?
Can he or she provide the documentation to back it up?
Twenty years in the autograph or antiques business is no indication of appraisal competence. Nor is a degree in history. Historians, archivists and curators are not necessarily appraisers. Look for appraisal qualifications.
• To what professional appraisal organizations does the appraiser belong?
Are they tested members and a what level – or can they become a member by just writing a check?
You can call the organization to find out if they are active and what classes they have passed?
• Can they provide a sample report for your review?
They can and should have a sample available.
Check it against the Appraisal check list below. (Ask me, and I’ll send you the checklist)
• What is their area of expertise?
Appraiser cannot be experts in all fields. Recently an appraiser told me she did “baby bottles to battleships” Oh yeah? How many battleships do you think she appraised this year? Appraisers must know their limitations.
• Do they consult others?
• If so, who do they use as associates and what are their qualifications?
• How do they research the market?
Many so-called “appraisers” guess, or look at auction results and dealer catalogs. That is certainly not enough. The appraiser must know if the item actually sold and who bought it. Did it sell to a dealer or a retail collector? How many people were at the auction? Was it bought back? What is the scope of their research?
In our office we maintain over 2,476,000 records of manuscripts rare books and collectibles, plus lots more for our other areas of expertise. Each item is cross-referenced by subject date, condition and content.
• Do they subscribe to an appraisal standard?
Do they know what that standard is? The most recognized basic standard is The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice — better known as USPAP. Not only do all of our National Appraisal Consultants appraisal team abide by that standard, many of us TEACH it.