An estimation or valuation of an item by an independent source with suitable qualifications that involves expert opinion.


How to trace the history, the provenance of an item.


One of the main tasks of a History Detective is to deal with artifacts or objects that we are investigating, which is why there are two professional appraisers on the team Wes and Elyse.

An appraisal is a formal estimation of the provenance, veracity, significance, and in some cases, value of something. Appraisers usually have years of experience and specialize in a certain field.

The process generally involves a number of steps. First, an appraiser will examine an object, sometimes using special equipment. They will identify what the object is and what time period it comes from. Is it a watercolor or oil painting? Is it a print or painting? Is it from the 19th century or a contemporary piece? They may consult with various libraries, auction houses, galleries, museums and historical societies who may have dealt with similar items.

Once they have identified what the item is, the appraiser will examine the condition, rarity and provenance of the piece, all factors which will affect their final appraisal.

At this point they may subject the artifact to tests if they are doubtful about its veracity, orthey may consult with experts in the field such as textile examiners, handwriting verifiers or geologists.

Once the appraiser is satisfied with the provenance of the item, their thoughts will turn to providing a valuation. They may need to do some research on comparable objects, and contrast what these similar items sold for on the market. Auction catalogues provide price guides, though an experienced appraiser will be very familiar with the market and recent trends.

They will then be able to provide an estimate for insurance (replacement value) or for sale (fair market value).

A professional appraisal report should include the following:

  • A cover letter explaining in detail what type of appraisal for value is being sought, and what it is used for.
  • The methods and resources that were used for research, including market analysis and comparable markets.
  • A description of the property, including measurements and condition.
  • The date(s) and location of inspection, and the effective date of value.
  • A statement by the appraiser that he or she has no financial interest in the property, or that such interest is disclosed in the report.
  • The appraiser's qualifications and signature.

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