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I knock on the door to enter the colonial style 2-story brick home.  Laid out on the dining table are a variety of items. It is like a supermarket of “stuff” – different colors, textures, sizes, shapes, and country of origin.  Italian encased glass vases, small bits of porcelain, a set of sterling, crystal bowls, pottery, and small wood carvings.  On the wall, over an Ethan Allen Sheraton style small buffet,  is a charcoal portrait in a most amazing frame.  Displayed around the house are instruments, rugs, and even a civil war sword.  Books that were brought over from the home land, most of a religious nature are stacked.  I am here to appraise and value a collection of antique items inherited from my client’s parents. This generations keeper of the family’s heirlooms.

While the items came through a living inheritance from her parents, they are an accumulation of the family’s history. Some  items once belonged to this Aunt or Uncle or to a Grandmother or Grandfather. They came from different places and different times, but ended up with one keeper.  A person who views the role as preserver seriously and wants to make sure that important information about the items is recorded.  Not only recorded, but professionally described and identified and a replacement value placed on the items.  This is an insurance appraisal.  But,  this is also a family history.  Family memories.  Items rich in sentiment.

I begin to inspect, photograph, and measure each of the items.  As we go through the items on a room by room basis. I note the usual physical characteristics and measurements of the items.  I look for construction details and marks.  However, from time to time I find handwritten notes regarding the provenance of the item.  I careful transcribe these to my notes.  I ask my client for any other amplifying details she may know.  These are transcribed.  Ownership or descendant information is recorded.

I return to my office and begin the detailed process of filtering through the photographs.  I write item descriptions.  I review markets.  I research and find comparable data to arrive at a value conclusion.   I note the specific family history.  The previous owner.  An alert reader can detect the  sentiment.  It is sitting below the surface, as there are many special notes in this report.  A great deal of provenance.  To answer the question, in the blog title –  “Can an Appraiser Value Sentiment ? ”  The answer of course is no.  Financial Value, in this case insurance replacement cost,  is based on market data and comparable information.

However,  as an individual appraiser, I  tailor all my reports to my client’s needs.  It is important, for this client and many of my clients,  to capture as much family history in my reports as is available.  I believe this allows future generations to maintain the historical record and continue to carry the family torch.  Education on the history or sharing detailed information found about the items is a secondary task in this maintenance of family history. I do this through capturing important background or factual information in the appendix of a report. I believe this helps people create context and build appreciation for the item.

Pictures are huge for this type of appraisal.  An appraisal that is motivated by obtaining accurate  insurance coverage; but, one that ultimately ends up encapsulating a great deal of family history.   I offer a computer disk of photographs taken for the client.  It is also important to note that since I write my reports to USPAP, that I maintain the entire client file for a period of 5 years.  I am there to assist with a claim, if a client ever has to pursue one.

So as an appraiser, I am very sensitive to a client’s sentiment.  This sentiment and emotional attachment are important.  I value this aspect of the client’s relationship with the item and I believe this respect  is translated into my work product.   So for me the answer is yes. I as an appraiser VALUE and respect your, the client’s, sentiment.

If you are seeking a professional that provides a personal touch in their services regarding personal property, please contact us for a consultation.

Blogging on for one more week in the challenge.