Bill, my last virtual appraisal client, from the Boston area, had 31 Asian properties that he wanted to sell in today’s market. He sent me a previous appraisal, done nearly 40 years ago for purposes of insurance, and wanted to update his expectations for resale. Important to remember that values listed for insurance are the highest values, they are replacement value. 

Thirteen of the 31 properties were Chinese porcelains and dated late 19th century to early 20th century.  These porcelains were decorated in polychrome over glaze enamels in colors of green, copper-reds, yellows and cobalt blues, with designs of peonies and other flowers and floral sprays, ducks, cranes, roosters and other birds.  Most I categorized as desirable, yet not that valuable.  Four of the porcelains were valued $200.00 twenty years ago, and in today’s market, the fair market value was double to $400.00.  This is a reminder to only buy what you like, not for investment purposes.  His daughter was with him, making sure he heard properly and took copious notes.

There were six properties that I felt had values over $500.00 and might sell for over $1000.00 at auction.  During this Covid pandemic, auction houses, especially regional and mid tier are doing well.  There is disposable income and is being spent to decorate homes of millennials, many who made money in technology.

One of the challenges, was to discuss the market today versus 50 years ago.  Some of his property had not changed much in value.  Often that is hard information to give, more than even a decrease in value.  Because of technology advances and the ease of travel, the supply of Chinese late 19th c porcelain is high and the demand is steady holding the prices down.  As supply decreases, the values will increase.

His goal was to sell, so I divided the porcelain property into what I thought would sell at a mid level auction house where minimum selling price is $500.00 and the regional suburban auctions where there is no minimum.  The benefit of the larger auction house is name recognition, so theoretically the audience is larger.  His parents and aunt had been missionaries in Southern China in the early 1930’s, living on meager wages with limited purchasing power.  These items were their property, brought out of China with them and bequeathed to him nearly thirty years ago. 

Some of the porcelains had reign marks from earlier dynasties, 17-18th.  It was necessary to explain the apocryphal mark, not necessarily meant as a fake but in honor of.  This is a practice in China that was done for at least a thousand years.  It does not add to the value, but doesn’t subtract either.  It is just noted, six character, four character and name. At end of our time, I said “the book of your mother’s referring to your baby present of carved rosewood would only be of value if you were famous scientist”.  “Bingo” his daughter uttered.  He was rocket scientist who developed radar.  Never know with whom I talk.