Notes From An Appraiser July 2017

As an accredited senior appraiser of Asian Art with the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), when do I not accept a job?  Well, let me give you some examples.

Last month I received an email inquiry from Gary, originally from Taiwan, who “has hundreds of Chinese porcelain antiques”, wants to have “authenticated and valued” and then “sell all the property”.  I can’t authenticate, I’m not a scholar and Chinese porcelains are not my specialty.  People have a misconception that an Appraiser can definitively declare a property authentic and give a retail value, all produced in a flash without research. Scholars can authenticate. Appraisers access value from similar property in the marketplace with research, enough to cover “due diligence”, a requirement of ASA and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).  The email sender I thanked for contacting me but declined the authentication/valuation job.

Another gentleman, Arnold, sent me photos online, unsolicited, of three 12” tall Chinese vases.  I could tell immediately the blue and white vases, late 20th century, were of decorative value only. I wrote back telling him not to make appointment, it was a waste of his money.

I just got off the telephone with a ‘sister’ in the East Bay, bequeathed around a hundred Japanese kimonos, haori and obi that her recently deceased sister, had been selling on EBay. She was totally baffled as to what to do, and working together with me by photograph seemed too labor intensive and too expensive.  My wheelchair could not maneuver in her home and bringing the property to me was not realistic.   I gave her the name of a commercial business to contact geographically close to her, and suggested she sell wholesale as a group but to be aware kimono sell for $20 – $125 each retail, so not to expect very much money.  I can’t justify charging for such invaluable property.  I believe I answer all my email inquires and telephone calls, around 30% are pro bono.

Today I received a detail, out of focus photograph said to be the bottom of a Chinese teapot and questioned if I could read or recognize the stamp mark.  The answer appeared to determine whether the friend of Etta’s would bring the earthenware teapot for inspection and drive to Marin County from Los Angeles to have the property appraised.  The person had been to my website, so I didn’t direct them there, but answered quite frankly no I can tell nothing from this photo.  Sometimes a Chinese ceramic has an imperial reign mark painted, or stamped, on the bottom.  I can recognize several Chinese marks, but rely on a book with published marks, and then of course, the overall appearance gives clues as to quality claim.  I don’t want to determine this decision of a seven hour car trip on an out of focus detail by photo alone.