Does "Antiques Roadshow" provide an accurate value of the items it asseses?
April 13, 2014 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I know that some people are collectors, especially of art as an investment and I know that market can be particularly volatile. What is the likelihood that the "at auction"* price is the price that the seller actually gets?

*Knowing of course that the auction house takes their cut.
posted by vapidave to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Seeing as a lot of it is based on what has sold in the past for what amount, I think what you have is a good guess by the people who would be most likely to know based on (many time) being in the business for a considerable amount of time. It's not exactly "STORAGE WARS" which seems to be a heck of a lot of pure wish guessing.
posted by edgeways at 7:50 PM on April 13, 2014

This was up on the Onion's 'AV Club' not too long ago....
posted by efalk at 7:59 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

The answer is: it depends. Do you have a print that is XX/100? Is it from a known artist? Is that artist collectible right now? Is it in museum quality condition? How many of these items exist today?

A lot of what you see on Antiques Roadshow are extraordinary finds. That is, most of what people bring to the show is worthless, in terms of resale value.

It also depends on what market you are located in. New York or Boston? Or Poughkeepsie?

When getting appraisals, make sure you are asking for market value and not an insurance appraisal, as those are often inflated to include labor of finding and remaking the item. Expect to pay for a quality appraisal from an expert.

In general, in today's market, unless you have an item of highly unique value, you can expect that it will be worth a lot less than you think it should be worth. In that case, you have to decide if you value it for its sentimental value rather than its monetary value.

For instance, I have an old bobbin spindle leg side table, that is obviously very old, worn black paint, maybe folk crafted by hand. There are no marks on it, and I got it at a flea market. I have a vintage sapphire ring that was appraised at $16,000, but I saw a similar ring at an auction house in Boston for $3,000. So what is it worth?

Unless it's something you can look up and say, yep! That's a Whistler painting! I would suspect you might have to leave it (a painting) at an art gallery for a long time, waiting for a buyer. Or you could try selling it to a gallery outright, but you won't get the price you feel you deserve.

Pay for an appraisal and then maybe a second one. Do your research and ask around. Often, the item may be worth something, but the sentimental value may outweigh the monetary reward.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:25 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is a huge amount of selection bias at work: if someone were systematically overestimating prices, then they would be far more likely to be shown on TV, so you would expect them to be over represented on the show. And indeed there have been documented instances of appraisers overestimating value to get on the show.

That said, on a highly liquid item like coins or stamps or Tiffany lamps the prices are verifiable so they can't be that far off. It's the one of a kind items that are probably BS.
posted by miyabo at 8:40 PM on April 13, 2014

Also, not all appraisals are for the same purpose. Appraisals for resale value are different than those for replacement value, and neither really gives a sense of what the item will actually sell for at auction. As an auction hound, I can tell you that ordinary jewelry usually goes for about 10-15% of its appraised value.

And the market -- ie, what's hot -- makes a huge difference, and that changes decade to decade and year to year. I've sat in auctions for the past two years watching solid mahogany sideboards and dressers from the 1800s being knocked down for under 200 bucks, while cheap teak veneer (and horrible 1950s gilded pseudobaroque crap) skyrockets. As a consequence I now own a lot of Victorian and Edwardian furniture :)

I buy paintings and prints based on my taste, not on investment purposes, but art seems to be the same but more so. Find a good auction house and go to one of their big twice-a-year auctions. You probably won't buy anything, but it's a fun experience.
posted by jrochest at 9:16 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I went to a taping of the show. Seriously, so much junk. What you see on air isn't even a quarter of what was there. There are about 20+ category booths and the line to see one of the appraisers in that speciality was 1-3 hours long!
That being said, my father in law brought something that did not get chosen for air but was given a generous appraisal. He then contacted a museum to see if they would be interested in it and they offered to purchase it for the high end of that appraisal. So take that however you want.
posted by MayNicholas at 4:26 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's a nice explanation from Antiques Roadshow themselves about appraisal prices.

As an antiques dealer myself: IMHO, Antiques Roadshow tends to be more accurate than Storage Wars, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, etc. (and Pawn Stars is one of the more accurate ones). The appraisers are real, actual appraisers, I've met some in person and they know their business. They do a lot of research before going on TV and telling people what their item is worth, partly because that's what they do for a living and if they went on TV giving out crazy-appraisals, it's going to affect their livelihood.

IIRC, "insurance" or "replacement" value is a bit higher than auction price, because that price is based on a seller's market -- you need to replace the item right now, at whatever price you can get it for. Auctions are a buyer's market -- the items sell only for the highest price a buyer wants to pay for it. Appraisers look at past auction closings for similar or identical items, and add in some market movement estimation, and that's where they get their prices from on Antiques Roadshow.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:56 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

« Older Have you ever built a labyrinth?   |   Hot town, summer in the city Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.