I remember stumbling upon some dusty old boxes in my attic a couple of months ago. Most of the boxes contained objects holding no real value except the sentiments of several generations. However, a few goods had an aesthetic appeal, raising several eyebrows about how much they could be worth!
Since childhood, I have been particularly interested in antique and vintage items. The working of these classic examples of engineering and their value assessment are topics that have drawn my attention.
In the remainder of this article, I will provide a comprehensive list of the 10 best places for free online antique appraisals and an in-depth analysis of why I chose that particular website. Read on, partner!
10 Best Places for Free Online Antique Appraisals:
Whether you’ve come across some antiques owned by your grandmother or found some rare ones at a garage sale, knowing what they are worth is essential to move to the next step, i.e., buying or selling.
Online platforms are a practical and valuable source for determining what your piece might be worth. Depending on the outcome you’re considering, whether selling an antique piece or buying insurance, there’s a list of websites you can choose from.
These are the 10 best places to get free online antique appraisals:
1. Country Living:
The famous magazine has a 40-year history of providing complete “home-based” helpful advice on topics ranging from restoration to pets. In addition, it also provides advice with “how-to” based articles to assist at the grass-root level.
Country Living Magazine has a well-reputed name of experts sitting behind the company’s desks, who have kept the name relevant for 40 years.
Similarly, the magazine provides free online antique appraisals for users wishing to find out what their specific piece might be worth.
- You are asked to take a picture in the highest resolution possible. The image must reveal the minor details or abnormalities you are aware of.
- Taking the picture in a neutral background in daylight is crucial. The company also refuses to accept the polaroid of the piece.
- Once you submit your details and the details of your antique and a description, you can submit a question for the appraiser to answer!
The form, including all of the details, is submitted to the email provided by the source; however, in case you run out of service, you can also mail your inquiries to their Birmingham address. The questions ultimately make their way to Helaine Fendelman, an expert with 30 years of experience supporting her cause. She uses her experience and abilities to assess and value your item if you’re selected.
However, if you’re not selected, you can browse the magazine for past appraisals of items similar to your piece, which can help you in the process of estimation. Each item listed on the website has a complete description and multiple images, mainly for the user to have a friendly experience.
Founded by a group of experts, the website has antique items divided into categories and sub-categories to make it easier for you to skim past the nonsense. Every piece has an attached image plus detailed descriptions that you can contribute to. The prices listed are based on the data received by the website from the world’s leading auction houses.
The forum claims to have taken its inspiration from the lack of updated, reliable, and professional price guides. The development of the Internet, coupled with the previously-mentioned reasons, allowed the founder to tap into an untouched market. This led to the birth of an online guide simple enough to help a beginner take their baby steps while assisting a well-read enthusiast in making an informed decision.
AntiqForum specializes in antiques ranging from Royal Vienna and Russian Porcelain plates to the more complex fine art Parian and Hermes bags. The website has 12 categories at present, which opens into another page listing the different makers/models to help you identify and estimate the value of your piece. New categories are frequently added to improve the platform’s services.
All in all, the best part about AntiqForum is that it provides free appraisals!
3. Indian Territory:
Based in Laguna Beach, California, since 1968, Indian Territory specializes in Native American artifacts, including Navajo Textiles, Indian Baskets, Kachinas, Dolls, Zuni Fetishes, Jewelry, Beadwork, and Non-Navajo Textiles.
The gallery offers 3 free online appraisals and a modest $5 for affordable online appraisals. You can take a picture of your piece and, after writing a detailed description, mail it to the email provided on their website. Suppose you’ve sold your item to the Indian Territory gallery or had it cleaned or restored by it. In that case, the fee paid for the additional appraisal service is refundable.
An extensive list of requirements is provided on the gallery page that you must fulfill for an appraisal. In addition, the gallery lets you choose between a free and paid appraisal, whether you’re considering selling your piece to the gallery or a simple restoration of your antique.
It is highly recommended to visit the gallery’s website if you’re an enthusiast or have an antique native American artifact on your hands!
4. Heritage Auctions:
Heritage Auctions is one of the largest online auction houses with multiple offices located around the globe. The company has been in business since 1976. It provides free/paid appraisals for items ranging from sewing machines, comics, jewelry, dolls, and artifacts.
With offices staffed with some of the most competent appraisal experts around the globe, the free appraisals are for users focused on consigning items online with Heritage; however, you are not obligated to sell. You can begin your quest by filling out a simple form with a list of requirements surrounding your piece, which gets submitted to the company. An appraisal is then emailed to you.
Similarly, the paid appraisal service is more suited to users who require a written appraisal with validity for insurance. You can acquire it by contacting the experts directly.
The company also has multiple valuation and price guides available on its website that can help you get a quick idea of what your piece might be worth. With an unparalleled marketing experience in an award-winning environment that brings your antiques directly to collectors, Heritage is one of the best places to get appraisals!
Sotheby’s, founded in 1944, is also one of the oldest auction houses in the world. The company empowers its collectors worldwide to keep an eye out for the best and the rarest pieces.
With a network of specialists in over 40 countries and collecting items belonging to 44 categories, including Asian antiques, jewelry, watches, wine, and art, Sotheby’s provides one of the safest and best shopping experiences for its buyers.
The company also provides appraisals at no cost with the catch of assuming that you consign your items with it. An online form is available on its website, which requires the same details as others, providing a reliable and accurate estimate of items suitable for sale within 5 to 7 business days. However, Sotheby’s does not provide appraisal services for items it considers unsuitable for sale at its auctions.
When buying or selling antiques, Sotheby’s is the most secure and safest place you can bet on!
One of the biggest auction houses with an extensive database worldwide since 1766, Christie’s is a name that commonly pops up when discussing antique and vintage items. If you believe your piece is worth more than a couple thousand dollars, you must contact an auction house as reputed as Christie’s.
The company provides a free provisional auction estimate for items it considers appropriate for auctioning at its show. It is not mandatory to sell the item you’ve requested the appraisal for. Similarly, the company only entertains one to six items per form. At the same time, requests exceeding the limit can be forwarded to their Valuation & Appraisal Services Department.
However, there are no appraisals for items deemed unfit or those that do not match the price and type of items typically sold at Christie’s.
So, suppose your item fits the description. In that case, you can submit images and relevant information by filling out the form on the website. A full description of the known condition, damages, wear, and tear is also required to assess and provide an estimate of your piece fully.
7. Gannon’s Antiques and Art:
Gannon’s Antiques and Art has been a huge antique store in South Fort Myers, Florida, since 1998. The store hosts over one hundred vendors and thousands of antique pieces you can choose from. It is also a common stop-over for celebrities wishing to add vintage items to their shelves.
The company offers buying/selling and free in-store appraisals for antiques, including furniture, jewelry, gold, silver, estate, and Asian antiques. Gannon’s is also a significant sponsor of Antiques Roadshow. The appraisals are made by professionals employed by the store after careful research and study of your piece.
The store also claims to observe auction houses worldwide and reviews online auctions to provide the most reliable appraisal to its customers. Evidence of client satisfaction being the utmost priority of the store stems from the fact that they also offer appraisals at home!
A French company based in Paris, Mr.Expert, is no foreigner regarding appraisals. The site offers some of the quickest appraisal services, claiming to provide information within 48 hours.
You can submit images, descriptions, and all relevant documents on the appraisal page of the website and expect to receive a response respecting your safety and privacy soon.
Three tiers of appraisals are offered by the company, which include free appraisals, an expert appraisal of a piece, and estate valuation during inheritance.
The free appraisals are made within a short period after a surface assessment of the information in the online form. The expert appraisal service includes in-depth research and analysis of your fine art, followed by an accurate and reliable estimate of its worth. Thirdly, the estate valuation includes the property and an inventory of the entire estate belongings, ensuring a fair estimate.
Another auction house, Bonhams, was founded in 1793 in London and is one of the biggest auction houses in the world. With items ranging from jewelry and fine art to motors and antiques, the company holds more than 400 auctions yearly to attract buyers from around the globe.
Bonhams has specialists located worldwide who can help you with your antique. To facilitate its user to a greater level, the website offers a map where you can choose an expert closest to you.
Providing online and in-store appraisals, the process is free, with no obligation to sell with the company. However, there is a limitation of up to 5 items in a free appraisal. If your items exceed the limit, you can contact the company via email and make a formal request.
After the initial valuation by experts of over 60 different categories, you can choose to sell with Bonhams or keep your item to yourself. You decide!
InstAppraisal is a forum that allows people from around the globe to interact and actively find their pieces’ value. It is a community-driven source that is entirely free to use. You can submit your item and all relevant questions, which are then answered and commented on by other users, including appraisal experts. Similarly, the website also has a separate blog that lists commonly posted antiques which you can use as a valuation and price guide.
However, it is crucial to mention that not all information regarding the identification and valuation posted by users is authentic. You should take a second trusted-expert opinion before making a decision.
Similarly, the website has a simple interface that you can use to assist other users by commenting on their antiques. In short, InstAppraisal is a big club run by antique lovers and enthusiasts willing to help one another.
After reading through the top 10 free antique appraisal websites, look at the online resources that couldn’t make it to the list but are still worth mentioning.
Worthpoint is the most extensive source for researching and valuing antiques. The company also provides resources for the buying/selling of vintage items. The company believes in the empowerment of the antique industry. It follows it by helping sellers identify their pieces’ prices and allowing buyers to research before they pay top dollar. In short, WorthPoint provides price transparency between the two parties.
The information is available to anyone who signs up with a database of over 600 million antique prices and over a billion photographs sourced from auction houses and the most prominent marketplaces.
If you’re looking to buy/sell an antique, WorthPoint is where you should start!
If you need an online appraisal, JustAnswer is your place to go! Regarded by well-reputed news agencies as one of the best appraisal services in the world, the company has experts available 24/7 to answer your questions and provide assistance. However, it comes with a price you have to pay for the appraisal.
Another example of renowned expertise and services, Skinners commands some of the best prices in international auctions. The company is a subset of Bonhams, with focused auctions for motivated buyers.
Skinners also provide free antique appraisals and competitive prices for its customers to buy antiques. You can submit images and details of your items on the website’s “Sell With Us” page.
LiveAuctioneers is another name commonly known to buyers involved in the antique business. The website lists thousands of items currently on sale and provides a record of sold pieces. You can utilize this by identifying your item, finding the top selling prices, checking the reputation of the selling companies, and then using their free valuation tools.
Fellows has been in the antique auction business since 1866. The firm holds around 100 auctions annually and fetches the best prices for its sellers. With an established online presence, Fellows holds auctions online and in person. The company sets itself apart from traditional auction houses by providing its customers with the ultimate auction experience.
Offering several valuations, you can either get an online appraisal or book an appointment for an in-person appraisal by contacting the company’s representatives. To do so, you must first sign up on the website and fill out an online form requiring all the information and photos of your item.
Founded by Harry Phillips in 1796, the Phillips name is also a ring leader in the world of auction houses. The firm gained immense popularity by selling some of the items from Queen Marie Antoinette’s estate and pieces from Napoleon Bonaparte, the only auction house to hold an auction inside Buckingham Palace.
Phillips specializes in jewels, watches, photographs, art, and design. In addition, the focus on aesthetics by the company, coupled with its global dominance, makes it a worthwhile addition to this list.
The firm provides free appraisals for items that could form a part of its auction. You can submit your items by filling out the consignment form requiring pictures and descriptions of the item. Afterward, if your item is accepted, a company representative will contact you to provide an estimate of what your item could go for!
Other Appraisal Services:
In addition to the platforms mentioned above, you can locate and contact an appraiser directly from websites such as the International Society of Appraisers and ASA.
Disadvantages of Online Appraisals:
Online appraisals are beneficial to price your items sitting at home, but the simple process comes at a cost!
Most experts unanimously agree that getting free online appraisals is not the most intelligent thing. They argue that you cannot accurately appraise items without carefully examining them. As a result, a lot of details are ignored during online appraisals. Similarly, people who offer free appraisals also tend to buy antiques, considered sinful by experts and account for a conflict of interest.
If you have a valuable item that you want to insure, free appraisals won’t do the trick! This is because insurance companies require a written appraisal from a reputable source. In that case, you must contact your company and inquire about insurance requirements. Paid appraisals by qualified experts in such cases are life-savers!
Free appraisals tend to be less accurate than paid ones, owing to the in-depth research and study the latter involves. If a free appraiser values your antique at a particular price, there is no guarantee if your item will fetch that price. In reality, an antique only sells for the price the buyer has to offer!
Suppose your antique is valued at a higher price. In that case, you must get it appraised by two or three well-reputed professional sources before considering selling it. This will reduce the chances of becoming a victim of fraud and give you a better understanding of your piece.
The Internet has given birth to thousands of antique markets with millions of items. At present, all such marketplaces and items are at your doorstep. With such ease for its users, it has also become effortless for crooks to get their hands on anyone they can!
Getting free online valuations for your pieces is a great way to know your items. Selling lower-priced items with free valuation services might be alright, but if you suspect your antique to be of considerable value, always go for paid appraisals from a reputable source.
So, the next time you’re running around your attic looking for a family heirloom or find an eye-catching piece at a garage sale, consider getting it appraised from the sources in this guide, so you don’t end up selling yourself short!