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Do you really own antiques?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2018 | Property Division |

If you and your spouse are a divorcing Ohio couple, you may have concerns about how to divide your marital property, especially if you own antiques – or think you do. While most people believe that an antique is an old and valuable collectible, that “definition” is only the tip of a very confusing and subjective iceberg.

Just because an object is old does not mean that it is an antique, let alone a valuable one. Technically, an object does not attain antique status until it becomes 100 years old. At 75 years old, it becomes vintage. If manufactured during the 1950s or 1960s, it usually goes by the name of retro. None of these age classifications has anything to do with the object’s value, however. Consequently, you first need to determine if that “old thing” you love really is an antique, and if it is, then how much it is actually worth.

Antique appraisals

The Huffington Post recommends that you hire a certified antique appraiser whenever an item’s true current value is important, such as when it becomes part of your property settlement agreement. Bear in mind, however, that no appraiser, no matter how knowledgeable and experienced, knows everything about everything. Just like doctors, lawyers and other professionals, appraisers tend to specialize. Therefore you may need to hire multiple appraisers if you have several different types of things you think are antiques, such as furniture, jewelry, silverware, tools, etc.

A good start may be to search online for the following three national appraisal organizations:

  1. The American Society of Appraisers
  2. The Appraisers Association of America
  3. The International Society of Appraisers

Most professional appraisers charge in one of two ways: a flat per-item fee or an hourly fee that can range from $200 to $400. Obviously getting your alleged antiques professionally appraised can become quite expensive.

Online appraisals

Many collectibles and other websites offer appraisals. You upload one or more pictures of your object to the site, plus a complete description of it, including such things as the following:

  • Type of material (wood, sterling silver, silver plate, pottery, etc.)
  • Height, width and depth
  • Weight (if possible)
  • Any maker’s mark(s) on the bottom, back, rim, etc.

WorthPoint and Value My Stuff both offer appraisals, as do some online antique malls. The problem with online appraisals, however, is that you have no idea how much knowledge and experience the appraiser possesses. In addition, no matter the quality of your photo(s), it is far more difficult to appraise something from its picture as opposed to seeing and examining it in person. While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand what antiques are and how to value them.


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