Just like other professions such as home construction or car repair, scams are part of the world of art and antiques and anyone can be a victim. Many don’t find out until it’s too late if they even find out at all. Consider these tips to protect yourself and your valuables when you are selling your antiques or getting an appraisal or evaluation.
1. The Buddy System
When you are considering the liquidation of your personal property including art or antiques, have a buddy with you. Invite a family member, neighbor, or anyone else you trust to join you as you discuss the value of your objects with a stranger, a reputable appraiser, or when working with a liquidation agent, auction house or estate sale business. I’m a reputable appraiser, but many are not. Many want to get your valuable stuff for cheap or want to just clean everything out and focus on the fact that you sold your stuff but ignore the fact that you lost a bundle selling it off too cheaply. Read 3 Auction Selling Tips.
I still recommend you have someone with you when I’m doing my job during an in home visit for appraisals. Two old sayings apply here: There’s safety in numbers and two heads are better than one. I have heard horror stories of those people who were alone and were even held hostage—yes, hostage–by an appraiser who wouldn’t leave until that person sold their valuables for next to nothing. Then, that awful appraiser—not really an appraiser, actually at thief–is happy to leave. Read how to spot a bad appraiser before it’s too late. Another story told to me by people like you was the one when your back is turned, the person offering the “professional” appraisal service slips a valuable into his pocket. This, of course, is only discovered after the appointment is over. With a buddy watching out for you, this doesn’t happen.
2. Take your Time
Don’t make a quick judgment. People out there are happy to take advantage of you especially when you are in a hurry. They’ll scam you when you tell them, “I’m in a hurry, I have to get this done now.” Gain information from various sources. Weigh your options over time. It is best to establish a plan and let time be on your side. Don’t act too fast. Get an appraisal first so you know what you actually have and what people really pay. Then make a decision using expert advice and your own research. Where do you find an honest appraiser? You are reading a blog by one, Dr. Lori Verderame. See my appraisal options
3. Keep Your Address Quiet
If you are considering selling or marketing art or antiques online, don’t publicize the actual physical address where your antiques are located. For instance, if you want to sell your Maria Martinez pottery or Salvador Dali print, don’t advertise that your antiques are located at 123 Main Street, Anytown, USA. This may be just the type of specific information that a thief can use to his advantage. I’ve seen people show photos on their smartphone of their valuable collections to complete strangers and then tell them exactly where they live. Oh, and add to that information the fact that they aren’t home on Mondays because they play bridge at the recreation center. Yes, I hear the robbery stories, too. Read more tips on how to prevent property theft when selling your antiques.
While we are all interested in learning about our family heirlooms and the current market value of art, antiques, and collectibles, there are a few things we should all remember about protecting our objects. Whether it is just curiosity, settling an estate, or hoping to turn a treasure into quick cash, common sense still reigns supreme when protecting our valuables and ourselves. I can help with answers and can evaluate your antiques too. Send photos of your antique or bring an antique to my list of popular events.