By Stacey Roske
Recently a customer asked me to recommend an online appraisal service. A recent check of
the search engines turned up several – however – would I recommend one? Not specifically,
but if you are pragmatic about it, an online appraisal can provide you “information” about
your piece – just don’t take the “information” to the bank.

Online appraisals are really only good for standard items (found in price books, reference
books, or online). You can only tell so much from a single photo and simple description.
This might work for pressed glass or Depression glass. But, unique items, like an unusual
chair or handcrafted silver, are tough to identify from photos and require more research.

Your best bet it to find someone through the national associations, or a local dealer or
auctioneer who has been in business a long time. Particularly if you are using the
information for insurance, tax, or charitable giving purposes.

Note the long winded “Declaration of Hypothetical Appraisal” found on
” Please note that our Online Appraisal’s are based on the information that you send us and
therefore hypothetical in nature. Although our Appraisal’s are based on the most current
sales results available they should not be used for Insurance, Estate or Tax purposes.
Our Online Appraisal’s are provided for their educational value only ! To prepare an
Appraisal for Insurance coverage , Estate or Tax purposes an Appraiser is required to
personally examine the items in question. If we find that the information sent to us
indicates a valuable Antique or Collectible we will refer you to a Personal Property
Appraiser in your area as part of our appraisal service”.

That about sums it up! I will note was the ONLY site researched that offered this
disclaimer, thus theirs is the only site mentioned in this article!

The online appraisal sites pay their appraisers only a portion of the $9.95 to $19.95
fee you are charged for an appraisal. A regular appraiser get $150-$250 per hour.

When it comes to online appraisals, it is wise to remember, you get what you pay for.

Check the Following Links for National Appraisal Associations

American Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America
International Society of Appraisers