Earlier this summer, we had our second baby on its way. I was in the attic juggling through some old baby things to find out if they are reusable enough for our upcoming guests. That was when I stumbled upon some boxes that intrigued me much more than old baby toys.
Those boxes were filled with antiques and collectibles that my parents and in-laws collected all their lives and passed down to us. Most of that stuff had nothing but sentimental value, but some of it clearly seemed like a sitting jackpot. How much was it actually worth? I had to find out.
The next step was getting those vintage items dusted and taking them to the antique dealers’ market for appraisal. But where could I have found a local antique appraiser? That was tricky.
Luckily, I found some ways to get my antiques evaluated, and I am going to disclose them here.
9 Best Ways to Find Free Local Antique Appraisers Near Me
There are basically two major ways to get a local appraiser to assess your antique items. The first is to pay for a professional service, but you don’t want to pay for a service that can be availed for free, which is the second way.
We are going to talk about the second way; getting a free antique appraisal. When it comes to getting appraisal services for free, you can either get a written appraisal or a verbal valuation.
It depends on what kind of antique appraisers are in your vicinity and which way you choose to go. Most of the time, you only get a verbal valuation for free and a written report is paid for.
Here are the 9 best ways to get a free local antique appraisal:
1. Attend a Major Antique Show
If you live in a big city, chances are that you are in proximity of an annual major antique show. Major antique shows are a great place, to begin with. These shows are full of appraisers and experts who cannot only provide you with an opinion on your collectible but can also give you a free appraisal.
If you are not aware of any such show, you can ask around in online communities, flea markets, local auction facilities, etc.
Before you make up your mind to enter the show, make sure to check the details online and see if the show even offers free professional appraisal services. I can tell you about Suburban Indy Shows (Indiana) and The Original Miami Beach Antique Show (Florida) which offer free antique valuation by a professional. You can find out if such a show is about to happen in your state.
The appraisal you will get in a major antique show would most likely be accurate. However, there are some obstacles to this way:
- These shows are only available for ticket-holding guests. You would have to pay to get in. The appraisal, on the other hand, would be completely free.
- You can only get a limited number of items evaluated for free.
- The appraisal is only verbal and cannot hold in a legal matter. Similarly, insurance appraisals and court-ordered appraisals cannot hold there. And that is usually the case with free appraisals.
- These shows usually happen once a year. If you cannot wait, I would advise you to check out other ways.
2. Go to a Local Auction House on Appraisal Day
Find out where your area’s local auction house is located if you aren’t already aware of it. A lot of auction houses host free-for-all appraisal days. On such days, members of the community bring their antique treasures and collectibles to get them evaluated by a professional.
A special appraiser examines each item and provides an estimated auction value, which is the amount the item is most likely to be sold at an auction. Some things to know about appraisal day at your local auction house are:
- These are free verbal appraisals. There is no documentation involved.
- These events usually limit the number of items a person can bring to get an appraisal, so make sure to check that out before you go.
- Don’t just sit and wait for your local auction house to announce an appraisal day, because some auction houses just don’t. Contact them and find out if and when they are going to have a free appraisal day. While you are on the call, don’t forget to ask about how many items and what type of them a person can bring.
- When you go to an appraisal day, take a notebook and pen with you. It is important to jot down the details the appraiser provides you because you are not likely to receive a written appraisal report. In that case, your notes will be your only resort in the future.
3. Check Out Auction Facilities and Antique Shops
A lot of your local antique shops and auction facilities can provide you with a free verbal appraisal in the hope that you would sell the item through their platform. It’s a clever way to get your mission accomplished, but you should be careful.
According to the Appraisers Association of America, appraisers are not to have any outside interest in the value of an item. That’s part of their code of ethics. It means that a professional appraiser should not make an offer to sell your antique item through them.
That being said, antique dealers and auction house appraisers know a lot about antiques, collectibles, and what they are worth. All you need to steer clear of is the conflict of interest.
4. Visit an Appraisal TV Show
There are multiple TV shows that revolve around the valuation of antiques. These shows go from country to country or state to state. If you can manage to get a ticket to one of their events, you can get at least one item appraised for free.
The key here is to know which show can be planned in your locality at a given time. Some shows that I found out are:
Dr. Lori is one of the most recognized antique appraisers in the country, conducting over 150 events throughout the nation. Her schedule is posted online. During these events, she offers free appraisals for one item per person. Keep an eye out for her show in your area.
Antiques Roadshow (America)
I found Antiques Roadshow to be one of the best antique shows on television. The crew tours across the country every summer and allows the public to attend the show for free and avail appraisal of two items. Their schedule is posted online, though they only make 6 events during a year. If you, by any chance, end up bringing an expensive item to the show, you will likely be broadcasted on national television.
Keep in mind that none of these shows offer a written report. They only provide appraisals verbally.
5. Contact a Well-Known Antique Buyer
You are likely to have an antique buyer or seller living in your vicinity who deals in vintage furniture, household items, fine art, and even entire estates. You probably already know about them if they are well-known around the area. These buyers and sellers specialize in the art of antiques and usually keep appraisers just one text away.
If you hit your luck with them and they agree to help you, you are likely to get an estimate of what you possess and figure out its actual price. If the communication goes well, these experts can also help you if you decide to sell any of your antique possessions.
6. Go Digital: Look for Websites
You can find out about free appraisals near you by looking them up digitally. On just one search, Google will show you multiple sources where you can get a free appraisal of your antiques.
If by any chance, you stumble upon the right website, you can get an estimate of your possession in terms of money. These websites can also help you if you ever decide to sell your vintage collection.
Some websites that helped me with my antiques are:
Founded in 1766 in Britain, Christie’s is one of the most successful auction organizations in the world. The best thing about Christie’s is that they offer free online appraisals.
AntiqForum provides free vintage appraisals in the form of price guides. In order to get your item appraised by AntiqForum, you would first have to look if the specific item’s category is in their database. After that, email them and request a free appraisal. Since this website also buys antiques apart from appraisals, there could be a conflict of interest in the price assessment.
Headquartered in Paris, Mr. Expert offers free online valuations. If you have an item that falls in the range of expertise of Mr. Expert, you can get a free online appraisal of your item.
7.Test Your Luck on Facebook
Facebook is filled with communities and groups of all kinds. There are a bunch of communities on the app that focuses on antiques and collectibles, but a group called Antique and Appraisals helped me out a lot when I was struggling to get my antiques evaluated. This group has over fifty thousand members, and all of them are antique enthusiasts, buyers, and sellers.
You are sure to get a lot of opinions on your item in this group. There is a really good chance that you end up communicating with one of the appraisers who would evaluate your item’s worth for free upon request.
If you do end up contacting an appraiser, make sure to be careful of the scams and frauds, as most of the people in the group are just general hobbyists and do not belong to any particular organization.
If you are planning on meeting an appraiser through a Facebook group, which you would have to do in order to get an appraisal of your item, keep in mind to set up a public place meeting spot, preferably where cameras are present. Or, even better, take someone with you.
8.Reddit is Also an Option
Reddit, similar to Facebook, is a place where everyone is likely to find what they are looking for. There is a subreddit called Antique Appraisal that revolves around identifying and appraising vintage items.
This community, however, is not as large as the one on Facebook. It only has around 3,600 members and people generally talk about the quality, dating, identification, and value of the items instead of asking specific questions.
You might not get an estimate about your vintage object, but it is still a good place to test your luck and see what you can find about your antique piece.
Yelp is also a good platform to try your luck in getting an appraisal of your antique item for free. Whether you need a house, metal, wood piece, or a jewelry appraisal, Yelp has got an extensive variety of appraisal businesses. Some of them can give you a verbal appraisal for free.
All you need to do is search for “free antique appraisals,” set your location, and click on search. The results will pop up on your screen. You can reach them out and ask whether or not they perform free appraisals (a lot of them do it in the hopes of doing business with you). If they are positive, you have got yourself a free appraisal.
Getting a free local antique appraisal is a great way to determine the value of your possession. Luckily, now you don’t have to struggle for it. Just read this guide once and you will have several ways of getting your vintage collection appraised for free.
After all, it is not every day that we end up stumbling upon something that is worth thousands of dollars in the antique market. Make sure to get all your old, shiny, rusty objects appraised before you decide to sell them.