“[…] According to antiques writer Bob Jackman, when going to an antiques dealer, people should be ‘as suspicious as they are when they go into a real estate agent or when they go into a car dealership.’
Helaine Fendelman, former president of the Appraisers Association of America, agrees. ‘The antiques business is a business. It’s buyer beware, caveat emptor— it absolutely, always has been,’ she says.
Some Tips From the Experts:
Hire an appraiser. “You cannot afford not to have your item appraised,” says Fendelman. Though appraisers’ fees range from $75 to $350 an hour, she says, hiring one will still be worth your while.
Select an appraiser with expertise in the particular area you need, suggests Fendelman, and never hire an appraiser who also wants to buy your item. “Wise consumers directly ask an appraiser about his area of strength before divulging the type of items to be appraised,” says Fendelman.
If you decide not to hire an appraiser, do your homework! “Read books, go to museums and antiques shows,” says Fendelman.
If you’re going to sell through a dealer, try to find a few who specialize in your type of object. [See Web links at right.] Try to get bids from at least three dealers.
Consider giving your item to a dealer on consignment. The consigner typically receives 60 to 80 percent of the selling price. If you sell to a dealer outright, expect to receive about 50 percent of the retail value.
Ask the dealer what your item is worth — not what he or she would pay.”