Introduction to Appraisals of Collectibles

by Kevin Segall, ISA
Proprietor of Collector's Shangri-La
Appraisals are done for many reasons including determining values for insurance, donations, and estate taxes.

Helpful questions to ask a potential appraiser:

  • What is your education, professional designation(s) and how did you qualify for that designation?
  • Do you have a CV (curriculum vitae) or résumé that you can send me?
  • Could you send me references from current or former clients?
  • How does your experience and expertise relate to the appraisal I need performed?
  • Do you belong to a professional appraisal society?
  • What continuing education do you undertake to keep up-to-date?
  • Will your appraisal report be USPAP-compliant (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice)?
  • How do you charge? 
  • What exactly will your appraisal report will include?

Why hire a professional appraiser instead of using a free valuation provided by an auction house or dealer?

Independent appraisers that provide USPAP-complaint appraisals back up their valuation with evidence. Taxation authorities and insurance companies recognize appraisers that are accredited through organizations such as the ISA and ASA as “qualified” because they are educated in recognized appraisal methods and tested for competence.

Warning signs of a bad appraiser:

  • An appraiser who wants to buy the item they are appraising
  • An appraiser who charges a percentage of the item's value for the appraisal
  • An appraiser who agrees to report a predetermined value
How do I find a qualified appraiser?
The International Society of Appraisers provides a search tool to find an appraiser by location and specialties at:
At Collector's Shangri-La, we specialize in the appraisals of autographs, art, and pop culture memorabilia.