Collection Appraisals “What’s it Worth?”

By Allan Baitcher

I am considered a “legal expert” in a dozen states and I have a lot of experience as well as credentials that are accepted by insurance companies, the courts, the IRS, and many others.

The first thing any collector needs is an itemized and detailed list with photographs. Placing a list on an Excel spreadsheet or into a working collectors app is always a good idea as it makes it easier to manage and easier to work with as your collection changes. I do this with even the largest museum collections I evaluate.

Keep the list in more than one place and on more than one computer. I usually suggest placing a copy of the list on a jump drive and putting the jump drive in a safety deposit box.

Having the right insurance company is the key to ensuring a collection properly. I strongly suggest using Chubb insurance as they are a company that is familiar with insuring collections. They also are a company that will have no problem paying you out if there is a loss. Many of the other companies will argue, negotiate, and do their best to give you a lower settlement regardless of what you had insured the collection for.

Be sure that any stated value policy does not have a depreciation factor or you can expect to get significantly less in the event of a claim. You also need to be sure that it does not require you to provide precise documentation with regard to what you paid for each item. While it isn’t necessary to have a collection appraised, it is always a very good idea to have an accredited appraiser evaluate the collection.

I often find the collectors are much more knowledgeable with regard to value than I am, however they don’t know the intricacies of a proper appraisal, and it is very important that an accredited appraiser sign off on a valuation document if you are insuring your collection. The collector working with an appraiser is the best of both worlds.

There are three recognized organizations in the United States as far as accredited appraisers. ASA, ISA, and AAA. The people who belong to these organizations are familiar with the proper methodology to do a correct appraisal. They go to school, have continuing education, and work diligently to maintain their credentials. Insurance companies generally have these association credentials as a requirement for payment of a claim.

If they are ever going to negotiate a loss you can be certain that the insurance company will hire someone from one of these organizations to dispute a claim. So having someone from one of those associations determine the value is always a good idea. Genuine appraisal credentials take years to obtain and tremendous work to maintain.

These appraisers are also recognized by the IRS  and required should you ever want to leave the collection in a will, or donate it for tax purposes you need one that has these credentials. A proper appraisal is done in a format that is nationally accepted and recognized. A list with values simply won’t work.

Remember, there are different types of values. Fair market value is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller. Replacement value is what it actually takes to replace it including paying commissions, shipping, auction fees, and more.

Keeping a current list with current values along with detailed pictures will put you way ahead of the game in the event of a loss and having an accredited appraiser provide you with a solid appraisal is critical. Remember, not all insurance companies are created equally. Many do not understand how to evaluate or insure large collections. Use one that knows how!

And yes, over the years I have found that it is always  best to work with a collector to gather information, insight, value suggestions, and more.  Generally they have years of specific knowledge that I don’t have.  It took me quite a while to realize that I actually don’t know everything!!!

You are more than welcome to share my contact information. Honestly I don’t do too much appraisal work anymore unless it is very large scale. Mostly I do appraisal work for museums, colleges, corporations, institutions, insurance companies, and larger organizations.

To find out more about Mr. Baitcher, click here

Allan Baitcher
2625 Piedmont Road #226
Atlanta, Georgia