Alexander Appraisal Services-Accredited Appraisers

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Alexander Appraisal & Estate Services Blog Pinterest

Determining the Value of an Antique

Determining the Value of an Antique

Determing an Antique's Value

Antique Appraisals


Sign Up Today and Receive Invitations to Upcoming Estate Sales and Appraisal Events




Visa and Master Card are Accepted

How to Determine the Value of an AntiqueHow to Determine the Value of an Antique

From Attic to Antique
The living room of a stucco house in Pasadena, a humble outskirt of Houston, was the last place one might expect to run into a rare painting. Yet, there it was, wearing nothing but a simple frame and a twine string hanging over a nail protruding from the painted sheet rock. It was merely in need of a restoration.

Yes, rare art has surfaced in the most unlikely places. One reason that more is not discovered is that the owners do not know what fine art looks like. Are you wondering what treasures may be lurking in your home? You don't have to wait for an opportunity to cart off a possible rare find to the Roadside Antiques Show - you can call an antique appraiser. However, before you stack up a leaning pile of decorative art in hopes of making a fortune - learning to separate trash from treasure will reduce the stack to the most potential ones.

Here is Your Basic Guide to Checking Antique Art.

  • Signed- If you were the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, you would take out your magnifying glass and look for evidence. That's exactly where you start - by examining the piece of art. Is there a signature? A signature is the key to identifying the art and determining if it has value. Search the four corners of the art as one is most likely where the mark is. But not all treasures waiting to be discovered are art. Furniture, china and too many items to mention may be worth your time to investigate.

  • Stamped -With furniture and porcelain, for example, look underneath for a stamp indicating the maker and the date. Don't just read the mark but study it. As an artist matures, his signature may change - appraisers are able to tell when a picture is painted or an armoire was made by what the signature looks like. Another important tip is to compare the age on the stamp against the look of the item. If the stamp seems like 1920s but the varnish looks like 1970s then the item has either been restored or is a copy. Without a signature or identifying mark - it is tricky to judge an item's worth. But, there are other clues that can help you. What is it made of? Often, people think that because something is rusted or old looking that it must be valuable. Conversely, it is not rust or the look that counts but the material used to make it. When looking at furniture it is important to know the type of wood it is made of and whether or not it has been altered.

  • Quality- Finally, inspect the craftsmanship. This can be complex. Rare art, for example, usually is rendered with a high standard of skill. Shoddy or whipped-up-in-no-time quality indicates items suitable for a garage sale. Be careful though as you don't want to let your personal judgment of the art work cloud your opinion on whether or not it's well made. You may not like it but that does not mean it has no value. Also, there are items that were made cheaply but are worth a lot. Take, for example, posters, artists' sketches and the famous Mickey Mouse watches - exceptions to the "quality made" rule-of-thumb and difficult to verify as valuable. You can retain an appraiser to meet the challenge for you or continue to research.

Cardboard is Not Fine Art
There are some additional guidelines to follow when on a household treasure hunt:

  1. Cardboard is never a valuable treasure.
  2. Even though your great grandmother told you that she got a lamp personally from the Kennedy's second cousin, and they got it from Mount Vernon - verify it with research.
  3. Believe it or not, often an original price tag will be attached under an item - bringing your research to a halt.
  4. Read all the books and articles about an item that you can.
  5. Learn from knowledgeable dealers what the telltale signs of a valuable piece are.

Treasure can turn up in the most unlikely places, thus if you don't find something in your house - use your knowledge to find it in garage sales, flea markets and other places where junk and treasures are offered for sale.

Need Help Determining the Value of an Antique? 

Contact us today to discuss your appraisal needs.