Authentication versus Appraisal

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MPF Conservation (MPFC) does not appraise items, meaning we do not assign a monetary value for your object. We consider it an ethical conflict of interest for anyone involved in the field of conservation, restoration, or repair of objects to offer financial appraisals. We can assist in the process of appraisal by authenticating an item, which is to say we may be able to tell our clients a great deal about their piece, but will not offer values.

Authentication means examining and documenting the various qualities that may tell us the age of the item:

  • Quality or age of the wood,
  • Details of construction,
  • Patination of the finish and if the item been refinished,
  • Identify type of carving / wood,
  • Showcover information: authenticity, type, issues

Images can be taken, and these can assist an appraiser, especially long distance, in making their value judgments.

We cannot recommend appraisers as they should be specific to the items and to the area in which you live, but can give suggestions about finding a knowledgeable and competent appraiser.

  • Ask for references and check them.
  • Avoid relying on the advice of interior designers, architects, or antique dealers who says they know this or that about the object; when the advice counts, contact a certified appraiser.
  • Think twice about using an appraiser that has an interest in selling your item, unless they are a large auction house with a good reputation such as Southebys.
  • A first pass may include good digital photographs, but it is probably that the item will have to be seen in person to authenticate it, and then certify the value.
  • Ask for a certified appraisal, meaning the appraiser signs his or her name to a document that states what they believe this is worth. If they won’t certify their appraisal then find a different appraiser.
  • There are a few appraisal societies, and while they are not governed by licensing in the same legal manner as other professionals (architect, doctor, lawyer) the organizations may have ways to recommend appraisers; this may be a starting place, and they often list appraisers across the country.

    International Society of Appraisers
    They are also a good source for more info on the appraisal process.
    1131 SW 7th St Suite 105
    Renton, WA 98057-1215
    tel: 206-241-0359
    fax: 206-241-0436

    Antiques RoadShow has a listing of appraisers by specialty.

The Oregonian published an excellent article by Julie Sullivan on a Appraiser and dealer in Portland, and we offer it as an example of what can happen with unscrupulous dealers.