Finding a Qualified Art, Antiques and Collectible Appraiser

Make a list of the items to be appraised. Make sure that those items are available for inspection and not in boxes waiting to be unpacked or otherwise inaccessible. The appraiser will want to know how many items are to be evaluated and the list will organize you and make the job easier for the appraiser.

Ask your lawyer, banker or friend for a recommendation of a qualified appraiser.

Make sure that the appraiser is a member of a professional not-for-profit appraisal organization like the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.

Make sure that the appraiser has taken and passed the course Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

Ask the appraiser about his/her expertise to ensure that the appraiser is qualified to document and evaluate the items to be appraised. Do not hire a jewelry appraiser to value furniture.

Ask the appraiser for credentials or references.

Fees range from $75 to $400 per hour depending on the area of the country. The hourly fee will be for on site time. Ask about the charges for research and report preparation time. Ask about charges for travel time to the site.

Never pay or expect to pay a percentage of the value of the items being appraised

Make a mutually convenient appointment for the appraiser to value the items.

Have any prior appraisals, bills of sale, exhibition history or other important documents related to the works available for the appraiser to examine if necessary.

Walk through the house with the appraiser to point out the items to be examined and valued.

The written document should include an accurate complete description for each item detailing the date, physical condition and measurements. See the Getty Object ID for specifics.

The appraisal report must clearly state the purpose, the date the items were examined, the dates they were valued and the effective date of the document.

Check the website for the Appraisers Association of America to learn the Elements of a Correctly Prepared Appraisal and make sure that the finished document has those which apply to your job.
Every appraisal job requires a contract between the appraiser and the client so that both will know the extent of the job, approximately when the job will be completed and the fee to be charged.

Expect to pay a partial payment, a deposit, for the job when the appraiser leaves at the end of the day. 

This should be a fun, learning process for the owner!

Read the original article here.

Treasures In Your Attic: Rocking chair has some pizzazz

Rocking chairs are nostalgic and this one has some style. 

Dear Helaine and Joe:

I recently purchased this rocking chair at a consignment shop in North Georgia. I paid $98. Attached was a note reading, “1820-1860 probably New England.” It is pegged and has a split oak seat. I do not know if the seat is original. Please share any knowledge you may have on such a rocking chair.

Thank you,


Dear C.C.:

Rocking chairs are not the hottest ticket in the antiques furniture world. They are kind of a cliche that brings to mind a world that no longer exists. And they tend to take up too much room in modern homes where space can be at a premium.

That said, the chair in today’s question has some pizzazz and is certainly a more interesting example than most country-made rocking chairs we see. The most serious question is whether the chair began its life as an armchair and later had rockers added or if it has always been a rocking chair.

Only an in-person examination would determine this with any certainty, but if we had to make a bet based on the photographs, we would probably go with the rockers as being a later addition. This would not be all that unusual.

We need to examine the date in the note given to C.C. when she purchased her chair. We feel the 1820 to 1860 time frame is a bit optimistic. Looking at the quality of the work plus the overall design, we think it is post-Civil War with a probable date of origin in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter of the 19th century. This does not materially affect the value or detract from the interest.

We can call this a Windsor-style chair, but it is not a true Windsor because it was constructed using pegs and does not have a typical Windsor plank seat. Instead, it is an adaptation of the 18th and early 19th century Windsor furniture that was made in both England and North America. The top on C.C.’s example has a comb back (named for what it looks like) and urn-shaped turnings on the chair’s side posts. Both are interesting design features.

The comb back was probably added as a headrest, or it could have just been decorative. The scrolled arms are well made and at the right height for the seat. Now we come to the split oak seat, which appears in the photographs to be so fragile we fear it would not support the weight of a well-fed house cat.

Fortunately, this is not a big issue because the rule of thumb is such seats had to be replaced every 30 years or so. A well-done replacement seat would not hurt the value significantly (unless the new seat looks too fresh and incongruous and is jarring to the eye). We have no idea where C.C. lives, but if it is in the North Georgia area (Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina), she should have no trouble finding a craftsman to do a proper job of crafting a new split oak seat. Insurance replacement value with a new seat is in the $175 to $225 range.

Read the original article here.

Treasure Hunt: How to know the value of a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow book

Books are always valuable as purveyors of information and entertainment, but how about their monetary value?

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: Is there any information you may have pertaining to these books?

Thank you.

— S.C.

DEAR S.C.: We have photographs of four or five books, but we are not geared to address more than one or perhaps two items at a time. With this limitation in mind, we decided to discuss the tome that appears to be the oldest and the one in the best condition. It is titled The Hanging of the Crane by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

This is not one of Longfellow’s better known works such as Paul Revere’s RideThe Song of Hiawatha or Evangeline, and it is a bit too sentimental — even maudlin — for many 21st century readers.

The tale is about the installation of a fireplace crane, a sort of bracket attached to the brick wall of a fireplace from which a Dutch oven (and other household utensils such as kettles) was suspended over hot coals for the purpose of cooking or heating. The poem was supposedly based on a visit Longfellow made to a newlywed couple living on Pinckney Street in Boston.

Longfellow is said to have observed how the couple’s dining room table had no leaves and was suitable for two. As the family grew, table leaves would be added, and the table and the couple’s world would be expanded. But as the years passed and the children left home, the leaves would be taken out and the table shrunk until it was just the table for two once again.

The poem was first published in 1874, and the book in today’s question was printed in 1875. The company that published the book was James R. Osgood and Company of Boston with a notation underneath that it was — the best we can read in the photograph — the late Ticknor and Fields and Fields, Osgood, and Company.

Osgood began his career as a clerk at the publishing firm of Ticknor and Fields but became a partner. And after a reorganization in 1868, it became Fields, Osgood, and Company. The James R. Osgood and Company itself was founded in 1871 and dissolved in 1878. For a short time, Osgood was partnered with Henry Oscar Houghton, but in 1880 when the firm became Houghton, Mifflin, Osgood refounded James R. Osgood and Company.

With its black and gold stampings against what appears to be a green ground, the book is truly lovely. But we cannot see enough of the condition of the book to judge its true retail value. However, retail prices for examples that seem to be in like condition range in price from $100 to $250. We think the book should be valued in the lower portion of the range because of the sentimental subject matter.

The other interesting piece belonging to S.C. is the Old Maids’ Club, which appears to be a relatively modern play script. But the piece is in terrible condition with a lot of written notations and underlining and has little or no monetary value to serious collectors.

Read the original article here.

Treasures: Newel post lamp likely from early 20th century

This figural lamp appears to have been made from spelter, which is largely zinc.

Dear Helaine and Joe: We found this lamp buried in an attic closet, and are guessing it once belonged to my wife’s grandmother.

Can you tell us who made it, when it was made and the value? It stands about 2 feet high, is extremely heavy and on the bottom is marked “Made in France.”

— M.M.

Dear M.M.: Lamps are meant to give light. There are table, floor and even pole lamps to illuminate a room. There are boudoir lamps to throw a little light on dressing tables. And there are even task lamps used to focus a beam on a written page or on a work project.

But the lamp in today’s question is none of these.

It is a newel post lamp, used in Victorian and Edwardian homes to light the staircase to avoid falls and other misadventures. The newel post lamp was affixed to the top of the newel post, which is the column found at the foot of a staircase and used to support the railing or banister.

If the stair curved as it rose to the second floor, there might have been a newel post at the turn, and one of these lamps might have been placed there as well. On occasion, in really large houses, lamps of this kind might have been placed on posts along the railing on the upper landing. But for the most part, the lamps were used at the foot of the stairs on a post that could be very ornamental.

Sometimes newel posts were lathe turned wood, but sometimes they were hollow and could be architectural in style. For the most part, lamps started being placed on newel posts in the mid-19th century, but most of the ones collectors find today are from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Early newel lamps could be fueled with various fluids, including whale oil. Later, gas, kerosene and finally electricity fueled them. The example in today’s question appears to one of the later models and probably graced a newel post sometime in the early 20th century. We believe the piece is from the first quarter.

Newel post lamps often have a central figural component. They often feature neoclassical style women, cupids, Mercury or Hercules, blackamoors, gladiators, perhaps a boy with a pole over his shoulder or representations of agriculture, which describes the figure in today’s question with its mustachioed man walking in a field with a rake and a basket.

Newel post lamps can be found carved from wood or cast from metal, such as brass and bronze, but a large portion of them were made from spelter or pot metal, the main component being zinc. The glass components that cover the light bulbs on this newel post lamp were probably made in Bohemia (the modern-day Czech Republic), and the base appears to be gilded and painted spelter. And as the marking says, it was “made in France.”

Fair market value on the piece is probably in the $200 to $300 range with a retail value in the neighborhood of $500 to $600.

Read the original article here.

Treasures In Your Attic: Beautiful lemonade set hard to find complete

Such a lovely set and a wonderful heirloom — but does it have monetary value?


I am enclosing two photos of a hand-painted seven-piece pitcher and glass set that was a wedding gift to my Kansas grandparents in 1907. The pitcher is 13 inches tall and the glasses are 6½ inches. All pieces are in perfect condition and there are no markings anywhere as far as I can tell. This set always sat on my grandmother’s buffet in her dining room. When I was 10 or 12 years old, the hired man offered my grandmother $50 for it but she told him that one day it would be worth more. Any information would be appreciated.

Thank you,

L.W., Russellville, Alabama

Dear L.W.:

The question here is: “Did L.W.’s grandmother do the right thing in turning down $50 for this set some half a century or so ago?” The answer is yes if she liked and enjoyed using the set; no if she was looking at it as an investment.PauseCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Stream TypeLIVELoaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00Fullscreen00:00Mute

The pitcher is called a “tankard” pitcher, and the set itself is often called a “lemonade set.” It would have been seen as being among L.W.’s grandmother’s best glassware. The set would have been used only when special company was being served.

The photographs L.W. sent are good, but it is still difficult to tell exactly what the glass is and what its coloration might be. It appears to be frosted and shades from a clearer bottom to a greenish top. The flowers enameled on each piece appear to be lilies of the valley, but we do think a great deal of artistic license was used in depicting the foliage and the pinkish coloration of the leaves at the base.

The lily of the valley was once the national flower of Yugoslavia and since 1967 has been the national flower of Finland. It signifies the return of happiness, and legend says the flower sprang from the tears of either Mary at the crucifixion of Jesus or from Eve on her expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

This particular set was probably made in one of the glassmaking centers of Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic). It did indeed originate at the beginning of the 20th century, but sets of this sort were made just a little earlier and a little later than 1907.

As for the decoration being “hand-painted,” it was — but the outlines were put down with a transfer print and unskilled labor just colored in the lines. It is wonderful that the set has its pitcher and six glasses and that all are in an undamaged state because this is a bit hard to find complete. It is a truly beautiful set and should retail in the $175 to $225 range, but its fair market value would be a little less than $100.

That makes the $50 offer way back when a fair offer because $50 at the middle of the last century would buy a lot more than $100 today.

Read the original article here.

Treasures: Note from President Abraham Lincoln could be genuine

TNS photo This small piece of paper may have a large value.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

This has been in my family for over 100 years. My father-in-law was a collector and may have gotten this when he lived in New York. I am interested in knowing the value.

Thank you

B. C.

Dear B. C.:

The note on lined paper reads: “Let the prisoner be released on taking the amnesty oath of December 8, 1863.” It is dated in lower left March 11, 1865, and signed “A. Lincoln.”

The amnesty oath referenced in this note begins, “I, – – – – – – – – , do solemnly swear in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect & defend the constitution of the United States and the Union of the States there under; and that I in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves…”

We will not judge the authenticity of the small piece of paper bearing the handwriting and signature of our 16th president because there are so many excellent fakes and facsimiles out there. Although we have had a great deal of experience with Lincoln memorabilia, we feel strongly that an in-person examination by a specialist in the field is required to establish the worth of this small piece of American history.

But we are willing to address some possibilities and discuss a past sale result or two. Abraham Lincoln memorabilia that can be associated directly with the president can be quite valuable. Lincoln, who lived from Feb. 12, 1809, to April 15, 1865, is considered by many to be at the pinnacle of those who occupied the office.

Collectors avidly seek any significant and authentic item that relates to the Civil War, and the small piece of paper rings the bell to a certain extent. The prisoner mentioned in the note was probably a prominent Confederate military officer (someone above the rank of colonel in the Confederate Army or lieutenant in the Navy), politician or diplomat.

There is some indication the note may have been taken from a larger letter or document, and other similar examples do exist and have been sold. One dated Feb. 20, 1865, reads: “Let this man take the oath of Dec. 8, 1863 & be discharged.” It too was signed “A. Lincoln.”

This document measured 31/2 by 11/2 inches and sold at auction in 2003 for $5,000. If the example in today’s question proves to be genuine, we feel prices have risen just a tad in the intervening years. It is our opinion that — if genuine, and that is a big if — the example belonging to B. C. would bring less than $6,000 at auction and the figure would more likely be around $5,500 or so.

On a good day it might bring a bit more, on a bad day, a bit less. As for insurance replacement, we feel that would be in the $10,000 to $12,000 range — again, if it proves to be authentic. Incidentally, we think it has a decent chance of being genuine.

Read the original article here.

Here’s How Much These Iconic Antiques From the Past 30 Years Are Worth Now

Do you have any of these valuable items hiding in your attic?

Helaine Fendelman knows her antiques. Since 1984, she’s appraised more than 1,594 items in 188 “What Is It? What Is It Worth?” columns for Country Living. Now, the New York City appraiser is looking back and reevaluating 40 of the most memorable objects from years’ past. Here are Fendelman’s 40 most memorable antiques worth money, from antique furniture, art, collectibles, antique toys, dishes, and more.

Read the original article, and see images, here.

A variety of unknowns make it impossible to value Roderic Montagu O’Connor artwork

Knowing the size of an object is vital when valuing art and antiques.

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: I read your column in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I have a couple of items I would like to know more about and am attaching five pictures for you to review. I bought these two paintings a few years ago at an estate sale in my neighborhood. It was the ornately carved frames that caught my eye. The artist’s signature appears to be Roderic Montague followed by the year — either ’32 or ’52. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

— J.M., Sherwood

DEAR J.M.: It is hard to judge paintings from photographs. Are they oil on canvas? Are they watercolor or gouache? Most importantly, are they merely prints? We believe the two images in today’s question are probably original oils on canvas or textured artist board because in the photographs we can see some threadlike areas under the paint.

We wonder if J.M. will be surprised when we tell her the last name of the artist who created her paintings was O’Connor. Roderic Montagu O’Connor was a French/American/Irish artist born on Oct. 29, 1907, in Clamart, France (a suburb of Paris).

His father was the American sculptor Andrew O’ Connor. There were four male children in the family, and Roderic sometimes exhibited with his younger sculptor/painter brother, Patrick (1909-1997).

O’Connor is usually classified as an Impressionist and a muralist, but to some eyes there is a touch of surrealism thrown into his work. He is known for his watercolors/gouaches and his oil compositions depicting Roman architecture and ruins, Venetian scenes, portraits and figural work, as well as landscape. For some reason, he signed his work only with his first two names, “Roderic Montagu.” This can be somewhat confusing for collectors.

In 1914, the O’Connors moved back to the United States and settled in Paxton, Mass.O’Connor exhibited his work in the United States and in Europe, where he participated in several annual Paris Salons. In 1974, he settled in Palm Beach, Fla., where he died in 2001. Over his career, O’Connor must have been very prolific. A great deal of his work is for sale.

Unfortunately, O’Connor’s paintings can bring relatively small amounts of money. We even found one image that sold for a mere $11, but that is the exception. His larger and better works can sell for close to $1,000, but most of the examples we found sold in the $200 to $300 range. The price depends on size, subject matter, detail and the circumstance under which it is being sold.

Sadly, J.M. did not tell us the size of her paintings so we cannot even suggest a price, but she can do further research on eBay and The date on the piece is almost certainly 1952.

Click here to read the original article.

Nightlight feature gives hint to age of Accurate Castings’ Gone With the Wind lamp

Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler never courted in the light of this lamp.

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: I have a lamp I inherited from my grandmother. I always remember it being in her home so I do not know when or where she got it. It has a nightlight and is stamped “Accurate Casting” in the metal base. Any information would be helpful.

— T. H.

Then we looked up “Accurate Casting” and found a variety of stories available about this particular company, all of which put the lamp’s manufacturing into the years significantly after the end of World War II.

One story maintains Accurate Casting was located in Taiwan and made metal parts for three major Taiwanese lamp manufacturers from 1972 to 1986-87. Another source attributes Accurate Casting to Carl Falkenstein and the Falkenstein Lamp Factory, which made lamps and lamp parts in the Philadelphia area in the 1940s through the ’60s.

The third possibility is a company named Accurate Castings that was located first in Manhattan, then in Long Island, N.Y., from the late 1940s to the late ’80s. The owner’s son states they marked their metal parts “ACC Co,” so this may not be the company that manufactured the lamp.

Whichever company was responsible for the lamp, we think it was probably made and purchased when early American furniture was a craze in the late 1950s to early ’60s.

Lamps of this type with this kind of marking are not rare and dozens can be found online for sale. T.H.’s lamp appears to be attractive in the photograph with its mahogany red top and bottom bracketing a white center section decorated with transfer-printed flowers in shades of blue, gold and pink.

The glass is also embossed with 3-D roses. Originally the lamp might have been one of a pair, and its single status keeps its value down just a bit. For insurance replacement purposes, this vintage lamp should be valued in the $75 to $125 range.

Read the original article here.

Treasures: Painting’s a copy, yet has some value

Is this painting in the style of a Dutch old master?

Dear S.W.: Could it be? Could it actually be a work of art from the hands of the legendary 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)? It looks too good to be true. In this case, the old aphorism proves to be correct.

Today, the original of this painting hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Originally it was called “Self-Portrait as a Young Man.” During a recent renovation, it was discovered that there is a signature under old varnish, and this has increased the scholarly doubts that this image was painted by Rembrandt.

There is some thought that the iconic artist might have painted some of it, but the work was finished by a student or another artist. But that is a debate in which we are not qualified to participate. All we can say is that the image is a fine example of Dutch old master painting and is an important part of the Uffizi’s legendary collection of artists’ self-portraits.

As far as we can determine, the original painting first was owned by Johann Wilhelm (1650-1706) and his wife, Anna Maria Lusia de Medici. Johann Wilhelm collected artists’ self-portraits, sometimes called “Tronies,” just like his Medici father-in-law.

“Tronie” is the Dutch word for “face,” and in artistic terms was the visage of someone who caught the artist’s eye: usually someone with exaggerated facial features or expressions, perhaps an actor in costume or the artist himself. Artists painted Tronies rather extensively and sometimes they used these images as part of larger biblical or historical paintings.

The painting passed to the Gerini family and was first exhibited as a Rembrandt self-portrait in 1724. “Tronie of a Young Man with Gorget and Beret” came to the Uffizi in 1818 and has remained there for the past 200 years or so.

“Gorgets” are pieces of armor worn at the throat and neck, from the French “gorge” or “neck,” and usually made from steel or leather. Later on, they were a symbol of an officer’s rank and could be rather decorative.

It has been quite common since the 18th century for art students and fledgling artists to copy the art available for public view in great museums and private collections. The painting in today’s question is a copy probably painted in Florence during the mid- to late-19th century and has a decorative value in the $300 to $400 range without a frame.

Read the original article here.