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How much are your antiques really worth?

As half of a North Carolina high-asset married couple, you and your spouse likely own some antiques that you’ve collected over the years or inherited from your respective family members. Should you divorce, you will need to value those antiques for purposes of your property settlement. But just how much are those antiques worth? In fact, are they really antiques at all?

Unfortunately, just because something is old does not necessarily mean that it is an antique. If you are not part of the collecting world per se, it will likely surprise you to learn that old things fall into three distinct categories as follows:

  1. Antique – an object manufactured, produced or created at least 100 years ago
  2. Vintage – an object manufactured, produced or created at least 75 years ago, but less than 100 years ago
  3. Retro – an object manufactured, produced or created during the middle of the 20th century, i.e., in the 1950s or 1960s

Assigning value

In order to place a value of your old objects, you must take more into consideration than simply their age. For instance, all of the following factors play an important role in determining an object’s worth:

  • How much damage or wear and tear does your object show?
  • Does it carry a signature, logo or manufacturer’s mark that identifies its creator or manufacturer?
  • How rare is your object? How many similar objects are currently on the market?
  • How strong is the current market itself for objects of this nature?

Getting appraisals

Another unfortunate fact of antiques and other collectibles is that the sentimental value their owners attach to them means virtually nothing when it comes to real value. You would do well to hire a professional appraiser. Better yet, hire one who has obtained certification from a legitimate appraisal organization such as the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.

Here again, however, not all appraisers are created equal. For instance, an appraiser who knows everything about everything regarding the value of antique jewelry likely will know little or nothing about the value of furniture or glassware or paintings. Consequently, depending on what kinds of old objects you own, you likely will need several appraisals by several appraisers.

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