Perhaps you intend to hire an appraiser to establish an insurance value for your art collection. Maybe you need to establish the fair market value of antique furniture and other possessions. Or during the course of estate planning, you must determine the value of a prized painting. Whatever your reasons may be for hiring an appraiser, consider these tips:
- Obtain a recommendation from a trustworthy source - such as a knowledgeable museum professional, satisfied client, reputable dealer, established auction house specialist, or a trusted colleague or collector. If you do not have access to referrals, consider calling one of the three professional appraisal organizations: Appraisers Association of America (AAA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA) or the International Society of Appraisers (ISA).
- Assess the type of collection and its specific needs. Is the collection a mixture of furniture, silver or china? Each collection, based on its composition, may require an appraiser with different specialties and expertise.
- Evaluate the level of experience of each appraiser. It is generally a good idea to hire only members of an appraisal organization, since these appraisers have met basic requirements. If you choose an associate of an appraisal organization, be sure that he or she has the proper field practice to assure competency, since associates still have not met the full requirements for membership. Be wary of friends of the organization, as these are paid memberships that do not require any type of admission standards.
- Ask for the appraiser's curriculum vitae (CV). This is a professional resume, which will articulate how well the appraiser has met "The Four E's": experience, expertise, examinations and ethics. If it is the first time you are employing an appraiser, ask for a sample appraisal.
- Ask the appraiser to explain the fee structure. Fees should be based on an hourly, daily or set rate, which most often excludes the cost and time to travel. The fee should never be commission-based, depending on the value of the appraised items.
10 Things You and Your Housekeeping Staff Should KnowAssessing your home for potentially hazardous situations and providing your cleaning service, maid, butler, landscaper or other housekeeping staff with some clear and simple instructions will protect your collection. To start, you'll want to identify items that should never be touched by household employees without prior instructions from you. And when it comes to specifics, it's important to know the following:
- Light-sensitive objects such as textiles or works on paper should never be displayed in direct sunlight, where they are likely to fade.
- Climate-sensitive items such as wood, bone and ivory artifacts should never be hung over heat vents or near fireplaces, where they are more likely to dry out and crack.
- Never pick up fragile objects with one hand.
- Never pick up an object by its most vulnerable point, such as the handles or neck.
- Don't push or pull furniture. If a piece is too heavy to lift alone, get help.
- Don't dust with a rag or anything else that could snag on sharp or ragged edges. Use a synthetic or feather duster.
- Never use the vacuum cleaner to pick up stray soot and then use the same brush to vacuum cobwebs off a valuable piece of art. Label a separate brush for "clean" things.
- Mass-marketed cleaning products and art don't necessarily mix. Never use any sort of cleaning solution on a work of art unless a conservator has approved it.
- Art and weed whackers don't mix either. Have your landscaper make a bed of mulch or other barrier around an outdoor sculpture to keep it clear of machinery. Make sure your landscaper knows that unless a conservator has specified otherwise, outdoor art should be protected with plastic whenever insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals are being sprayed.
- Don't "sweep it under the rug". No matter how many precautions are taken, the possibility of breakage always exists in and around the home. Make sure your household staff knows what to do if something happens. Train staff to collect and save all of the pieces. A piece of masking tape pressed to the floor to gather even the smallest fragments might be the difference between a completely successful restoration and a disappointing one.
Following are some simple suggestions to help protect your jewelry from damage or theft:
Damage Prevention - Always separate jewelry items by storing them in soft cloth. Obtain fabric pouches from a jeweler or retailer. Make sure you leave enough space for each item in your storage area. Twisting and bending of semi-rigid chains and pieces can cause permanent damage.
Guard Against Theft - Don't keep your most precious jewelry in your bedroom or jewelry box. It's the first place a burglar will look. Install a secure home safe with the appropriate jewelry rating, or keep valuable items in a bank vault.
When Traveling - Keep expensive items with you at all times, or use the main hotel safe. Don't pack jewelry in your luggage or wear valuables to the pool or beach.
Care for your Watches - Replace broken or scratched crystals immediately. Even hairline cracks can let dust or moisture into the mechanism, threatening its accuracy. Check your watch clasp periodically to prevent accidental loss.
Care for your Diamonds - When cleaning diamonds, use mild detergent or a sudsy ammonia bath. Never let your diamond touch chorine bleach, as it can pit and discolor the mounting. Have your prongs and mountings checked annually, since wear and tear can loosen a stone. Diamonds can scratch all other jewelry, so store them separately.
Care for your Pearls - Make sure your pearls are cleaned and restrung regularly to prevent pearl strings from becoming stretched, weakened or soiled. Wipe pearls with a soft cloth after each wearing because over time, perfume, cosmetics, hairsprays, and oils and chemicals on your skin can erode the quality. To protect pearls from scratches, store them in a soft cloth pouch.
Care for your Gemstones - Guard against loose stone settings by having prongs and mountings checked annually. Remove gemstone jewelry while outdoors during intense sunlight or under tanning lamps, which can fade the stone. Because each gemstone is different, discuss specific care and cleaning procedures with your jeweler.
Proper packing and shipping is the best way to ensure the safety of valuable artwork. The best way to find a specialty packer is through a professional referral, i.e., one of the art-related firms that ships, packs and transports art every day, such as conservators, auction house specialists, art dealers, museum registrars, or other fine art collectors. In addition, we offer the following suggestions:General Recommendations:
- Create an inventory list of the items being shipped. Share it with the shipper and receiver.
- Do not advertise the contents on exterior labels (e.g. "Art Work").
- Avoid local household packers; they are not experienced in the protection of fine art.
- Note condition of artwork prior to packing and upon its arrival.
- The truck should have a working lift gate, functioning locks and a climate control system. 2 drivers are always required.
- Pieces should be strapped snugly to the walls of the truck.
- Note the condition of the crate and wrapping.
- Upon arrival and unloading, use the inventory list to check off all expected packages
- Note the condition of each wrapping or crate as it is received. If unable to inspect a package's condition, write "un-inspected" on the receipt or waybill.
- If the condition is suspect or damaged, make a note on the waybill, take photos, unwrap immediately and save the wrappings.
Following are some simple suggestions to help you preserve the quality and value of your collection:Maintain an Up-to-date Inventory
The inventory can be on-line, digitized on CD, or simply recorded on paper, but be sure to include photographs to document the condition of each item. Store an updated copy outside your home.
Keep Art Out of Direct Sunlight
Ultraviolet light can cause severe damage to an object, especially works on paper, textiles, and photographs. For rooms containing many precious items, consider installing UV filtering film on the windows.
Never Hang Artwork or a Valuable Object Above a Working Fireplace
Heat, smoke and ash can ruin a prized possession. If art must be hung above a working fireplace, remove the item when the fireplace is in use to prevent long term damage.
Install a Centrally Monitored Fire and Burglar Alarm System
Smoke detectors, not heat detectors, should be placed in rooms with precious objects. Smoke detectors will provide protection against soot and smoke damage. A combination of perimeter, interior, and object protection will provide the most comprehensive burglar protection.
Do Not Store Fine Art Items or Collectibles in Basements or Attics
These parts of your home are more susceptible to flooding and leaks, accompanied by dramatic temperature changes.
Hire A Professional Art Handler
Objects must be properly hung and transported to ensure that they will not be damaged. A professional art handler is more likely to use appropriate hardware and structural supports.
Maintain a Controlled House Temperature and Humidity Level
We recommend keeping your home at a constant temperature of 75Â° F and 55% relative humidity. If your home thermostat is imprecise, install a compact (and inexpensive) digital thermohygrometer to monitor humidity and temperature.
Frame All Art with "Museum Quality" Archival Materials
Consult with a museum quality framer or conservator for specific advice about different mediums to be framed.
Before you agree to a loan, consider the following:Does the Museum have proper Accreditation?
Standards vary between museums. Likewise, standards of U.S. museums differ greatly from those overseas. The American Association of Museums sets standards for U.S. accreditation, while the International Council of Museums is responsible for international standards. Make certain the museum you are considering is properly accredited.
Does the Museum have Adequate Fine Art Insurance?
The borrowing museum is typically responsible for all aspects of the loan and associated costs, including insurance. The museum should provide "wall-to-wall" insurance from the time the work is taken from your "wall", during transit, throughout the exhibition, and until the work is returned to you. Ask your agent/broker to review the museum's insurance policy and discuss whether you should maintain your own insurance, in addition to the museum policy.
Is Your Appraisal Up to Date?
A current, independent appraisal to establish the proper value of the work at the time of the loan will help avoid problems in case of damage or loss to your work of art. For a referral to a qualified appraiser, call the MasterpieceÂ® Protection Network at 1.877.60CHUBB.
Do you need to Verify Title and Authenticity?
If you have concerns regarding authenticity or clear title to your work, consult with a provenance researcher to ensure there are no issues.
Have You Planned for Proper Packing and Shipping?
Consult with the museum conservator regarding protocol for packing and shipping and whether special travel considerations are necessary. If the work is part of a traveling exhibit, obtain details about each leg of the trip. For highly valued or fragile items, request a courier to accompany these works. A condition report is a must - before lending, following each transit, after the loan, and upon return to you.
Will Storage Facilities Be Used?
Determine if the art will be held temporarily at a storage facility. If so, obtain details regarding fire protection and security for this location.
Is Museum Security Adequate?
Request a facility report from the museum registrar to evaluate the security and protection at the museum. If there is more than one venue for the exhibit, get a facility report for each venue.
Do you know the Display Conditions?
Consider a trip to the museum to discuss the layout of the exhibition and see where the work will be displayed. Obtain details regarding the location of the piece in relation to visitor flow. You might request special display cases for protection from the public or due to nature of the work.
How will You be Identified?
For privacy and security issues, consider anonymous acknowledgment of your loan versus attribution of ownership.