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Finding Out What Your Antiques Are Worth 
 
by Libby Pelham June 10, 2005

There are two different ways to find out what your antiques are worth. You can do the research yourself using television shows, books and web sites as references. But if you want a professional report for insurance purposes, contact a antiques appraiser.

We’ve all seen it on television. You are watching an antique show and an old pot someone kept in their basement turns out to be an incredible example of early American folk art and worth $10,000. If you are not lucky enough to get tickets to one of those shows, you can still find out information about your antiques. You can research them yourself or hire a professional to determine the worth.

Why would you want to know what your antique is worth? Well, other than curiosity, there are many reasons. If you have something particularly valuable, you probably want to have it insured. Insurance will pay if your item is stolen or damaged, but you would need to let your insurance company know the value of the item. Having a good idea of the value of your antiques will also help in settling an estate or in the case of divorce. And then there is the curiosity. Is that Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock movie poster you bought at an auction for $100 real or a replica? There are only two ways to know.

Before You Start

Whether you decide to research the item yourself or take it to a professional appraiser, there are some things you should do before starting. Most importantly, you will need to know the condition of your antique. Look for signs of age or wear, such as scratches, cracks, holes, tears or paint chips. If the antique is glass or pottery, look for glue that might indicate a sign of repair. Any of these may, but not necessarily, diminish the value of an item. If you have furniture, try to determine if it has been refinished or is missing any parts. Sometimes furniture can be in the family for years without anyone realizing a desk had legs that aren’t there anymore or is missing a hutch that went on top. Thoroughly check your antique for labels and marks. You may have to look inside the item or underneath as some marks and labels are not easily visible. And if you find a mark, it may not make any sense to you, so you will want to write it down. Even if you have a good memory, you may want to keep a notebook full of notes about your antique. This can be carried with you to the library or appraiser’s office so you can have as much information about your antique as possible. Take picture of your antique from several angles, especially any damage you may note.

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