Thursday, July 30, 2009

Care and Feeding of Your Collection

On the Antiques Roadshow we are constantly frustrated by the lack of documentation in the objects we see. As viewers you hear the appraisers often discussing how a little documentation could mean a great deal in the ultimate value of the object. When Don Ellis appraised the Ute 1st phase chiefs blanket in Tucson we were told that the blanket had been handed down through the family from Kit Carson. Both Don and I believed this oral history but we had nothing to prove it. Had we been able to document this history we both agreed at a minimum this would have added another $100,000 to the estimate of $350,000 to $500,000. The point to all this is that the care and feeding of your collection is important and now easier than ever with the available technology. I have listed below a few simple things you can do that will pay big dividends for you and your family in the future.

1. If you don't have a digital camera, buy an inexpensive Canon or Sony ($200 and under) and photograph every object in the house. Take group shots of each room.

2. If you are computer savy, download these images to your computer and make some disks that you will store outside the house. If you are not computer savy, take your camera to a Kinkos and have them make a disk or put it on a USB thumb drive. The new thumb drives work great and make it very easy to add or delete data.

3. On this blog I have provided lots of information on finding an appraiser. Buy a few hours of time from a recognized appraiser and have them walk through the house to point out important objects, fakes, conservation issues, and range of values. Record it or take notes.

4. You probably won't do this one.. but sit down and write a short paragraph on all your important objects that were identified by the appraiser. Also put this info on your disk or thumb drive. In the event of a house fire, you do not want to store this data in the house.

5. Economic times are tough so insurance is an issue that each collector must address individually. I will say that major collections that are covered where premiums are based on appraised value should be re-assessed during economic downturns.

6. The greatest probability for loss is undoubtedly fire and breakage. Most good security systems have a fire alarm component; however, a great deal of damage can be done before the fire department is on scene. If the budget can handle it, a policy covering this type of loss is important.

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