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Quilt Appraisal, What is it?

Quilt Appraisal, What is it?          
For some reason you have decided to have your quilt appraised. What could that reason be? Could it be for insurance purposes? For resale (or market) value? Or just out of curiosity? This section will be examining just what SHOULD be included in a Quilt Appraisal by an Appraisal Expert.

First of all, locate a Quilt Appraisal Specialist nearest you by contacting the American Quilters Society. They are located in Paducah, Kentucky. AQS has a program where they train specialists in quilt appraisal from all over the United States. AQS does NOT charge for referring you a certified appraiser.

After you have called AQS and they have referred you to the appraiser closest to you feel free to call the appraiser and ask any questions that you might have. Ask about the appraiser's credentials. Ask how long they have been an appraiser. Their experiences. More importantly ask for references. Any appraiser worth their weight in salt will be more than happy to send you a list of past customers so that you can call the customers and further check on the appraiser's references. If an "appraiser" will NOT do this then call the AQS and ask for another referral.

Here are some don'ts when it comes to locating a certified quilt appraiser:

* DON'T go to an antique dealer. Most antique dealers do not specialize in quilts. They may sell a lot of items and whatnots but they may not be trained in the ART of quilt appraising.

* DON'T go to your local museum. They may have specialists in fabric conservation, but they may not be certified in the nuances of a quilt appraisal.

* DON'T drop your quilt off to have it appraised. Stay with the quilt in the event that any damage should occur to the quilt during the examination.

* NEVER take a "verbal" appraisal from anyone claiming to be a certified appraiser. A verbal appraisal is only as good as the paper it is written upon! Whatever your reason for having a quilt appraised the bottom line is that it must be written down in order to be legal. Things have to be written down if the need should ever have to go to court. I have seen enough episodes of courtroom TV shows to know that!

* Make certain that the surroundings where the quilt is to be examined is clean and free of any food debris. Make a mental note to check and see if the person's area is clean and grease free. Nothing is worse than to have a quilt appraised by someone who has just finished eating a greasy sandwich!

* NO quilt appraiser will attempt to appraise a quilt from a photograph or e-mails (no matter what the reason).

Before you leave for the appraisal, have some "advance" research ready for the appraiser:

* Do you know who made the quilt?

* Do you know where (IE, which state) the quilt was made in?

* Do you know the name of the quilt pattern?

* Is there a title for the quilt? IE, did the quilter sew any identification on the quilt?

* Do you happen to know when the quilt may have been made?

* Do you know if there is any family history of the quilt?

If you know some of the details, this will help the appraiser to determine the value easier. But if you know NOTHING about the quilt, the appraiser will have the books on hand to look things up to make the full value of your quilt.

Once you have called your appraiser and you have set up an appointment, on the day of the appointment be certain NOT wear any jewelry to the appraising. Believe it or not, there have been instances where a quilt has became entangled with a piece of jewelry and damaged the quilt. Leave your bracelets, necklaces and fancy rings at home. Or in your purse. Just don't wear them. The same is true for your appraiser. If they are wearing jewelry, they should remove it before the appraising begins.

Before you go to the appointment, store your quilt in a pillow case, or in a plain unbleached muslin bag. This is a great way to store your quilt and to prevent any further damage.

On the day of the appraisal, dress comfortably. Bring the money that the appraiser will charge for the appraisal. Many charge anywhere between $20.00 for a verbal appraisal, to as much as $35.00 or more depending on your area.

The appraiser may ask you for what the appraisal is for. Whether is it for insurance value
(commonly known as "Replacement Value"), or market value (sales value is always less than replacement value). This is always true unless the quilt is of great historical value.

The actual appraisal: The appraiser should have a cotton sheet on 2 tables, or even possibly on the floor. This is where the quilt will be placed.

Sometimes the appraiser will have someone to accompany them at the appraisal. This person is usually known as the Scribe. It is their duty to write down any information that the appraiser tells them to write down on a form. The appraiser and the scribe should be wearing cotton gloves. The wearing of the gloves prevents any further damage to the quilt from body oils.

If you are going to the appraisers home, the appraiser should have a series of books that they use to determine the value of the quilt. Often times these reference books may contain information from photographs of the actual fabric to information on the patterns, etc.

Usually the appraiser will have a camera to take a picture of your quilt. This will be attached to the written appraisal further identifying the quilt in the even of a loss. Sometimes the appraiser will keep the picture in order to do further research on the quilt.

You may sit or stand during the appraisal. Be ready to answer any questions about the quilt. You may also ask questions about the quilt as well.

Usually the appraiser will start looking at the back of the quilt first. This is done to see if there are any patterns of stitching, etc. Then the quilt will be slowly and gently turned over for the front of the quilt. The quilt will be measured (width and length). The squares will be measured. In the case of a crazy quilt one section will be measured.

The fabric will be examined ascertaining the approximate quarter of a century. For example, was the quilt made between 1800 and 1825? Or 1825 and 1850, etc.

The quilting will be examined. Is the quilt machine or hand sewn? What type of thread was used? Was any binding used? What type of batting (IE, cotton, if cotton are there any signs of seeds or debris? Or polyester? Was wool used? Any flannel?)

At the end you will receive your appraisal. You might even receive (depending on the appraiser) informative sheets on such subjects as how to store your quilt, care for your quilt, how to hang your quilt, etc.