Free informal valuations
We are happy to provide an informal valuation for free. You can e-mail us (or use Dropbox) some photographs and anything you know about the item. Check our website for the type of photographs we need. And don’t forget to photograph those dings and cracks – and any maker’s marks. But please remember that an antique valuation based solely on photographs is not ideal. Firstly, unless you’ve got a decent camera, know how to take decent photographs and know what to photograph, you may miss hard-to-spot damage, restoration or other defects. A nice-looking high-mileage antique that is worth £1,000 in perfect condition could be worth only £250 – and that’s if you can find a buyer who’s not too fussy about condition. That’s why we don’t offer Online Valuation Certificates (and why you shouldn’t trust them). Similarly, please don’t send us a photograph of something you’re about to buy. Ask us to take a look at it instead.
Remote virtual valuation service
We have established a new remote virtual valuation service so that you can request an appointment with us. You can book a time to be online with us via a smartphone or tablet via a video messaging app of your choice, either FaceTime or Zoom. You show us the items you wish to have valued. Have a light nearby to shine on the items. Make sure you show us any special marks you have found or any obvious areas of damage or repair. Condition is always critical to any valuation. If it is silver or gold, then please weigh it. We will guide you with questions about what features of each item we need to see, such as size, condition, signatures, marks. If there is an original box or any backup paperwork or provenance (i.e. its history) then please show us these too. Imagine you are on Antiques Roadshow or Flog It! Please check it is complete, as missing parts may be somewhere else in a drawer! We may ask you to send some images by email (or to Dropbox) so that we can study them further before we give you our expert opinion. We will always need to physically handle potentially valuable items as hairline cracks and expert repairs are very difficult to spot on a photo. Expert fakes can also be difficult to spot online.
Valuations for insurance, divorce and probate
We offer a valuation service for insurance purposes; valuations for divorcing couples and for those going through the nightmare of probate. It is easy to underestimate what you have in the house. Most of us are underinsured. If you have undervalued the contents of your home, you can have big problems when you make a claim after a fire, water damage or a break in. Many ‘home contents’ insurance policies have limits on items classified as ‘valuables’ and they will have a limit on the maximum value of a single item (often called a single article limit), or what they deem to be a ‘collection’. Beware the small print.
An insurance valuation will help you set the right amount for total contents value and the ‘all risks’ proportion, and then you can check with your insurance company if you need to alter your cover. A professionally-prepared valuation report, with photographs, will make any subsequent claim much less stressful. You may find you have some goodies that are worth a lot more than you thought but, unfortunately, Aunt Patricia’s beloved jewellery may not be worth quite what she told you! Photographs can also help the police recover what’s been stolen.
Agreed value policies
In some cases, you might be better off with ‘high value cover’ or an ‘agreed value’ policy. In an agreed value policy, you tell the insurer the value of each specified item over a specified threshold and that is what they will pay you when you break the glass, drop the vase or get burgled. There will be no hassles over ‘wear and tear’ or fights over replacement vs a cash settlement. You just get the cash. In some cases, when you’ve just had a disaster, we can prepare a post-loss valuation based on your descriptions or photographs. It’s not ideal, but it can help you deal with the loss adjuster.
Divorce usually means that everything in the house has to be valued before things are divided up. Whilst many couples can agree ‘You keep that’, ‘I’ll take this’; when you’ve been married a long time, an independent valuation can stop another excuse for an argument. It can also help couples decide what they want to keep and what they might sell, as well deciding how then to dispose of any unwanted antiques.
We all inherit items – things our parents acquired (or inherited themselves); heirlooms we cannot identify; and shelves full of their treasures that we don’t like at all! Fashions in collecting change and we seldom want to hang on to the antiques our parents proudly displayed on purpose-built shelves or squirrelled away in the safe. So, what to do, when parents downsize, move into sheltered accommodation, or a parent dies? What’s it worth? Who gets what? When there are several beneficiaries, an independent valuation can smooth the way during the difficult weeks. A valuation can also be helpful in estate/inheritance planning, pre-nuptial agreements, charitable donations, or negotiating loan collateral as well as in other less happy situations such as bankruptcy. We can also advice on whether splitting up a collection might impact on its worth in the marketplace – for instance a collection of letters home from a serving soldier and some photographs would increase the value of his campaign and bravery medals. We will advise on the differences between open market value and retail insurance figures, which are much higher. And finally... There can be nothing worse than accepting a lump sum from a house clearance specialist only for Uncle Fred to ask you three months later about that little vase in the loo that he knew his brother bought for £1,000 in 1952.
If we have provided a valuation following death and the executors (sometimes administrators or personal representatives) wish some items to be sold, we will recommend auction houses or selling though the trade as appropriate. We will accept items to be sold through our website as Commission Sales and also may buy some items where there is no conflict of interest. We will work with local house clearance and disposals businesses to dispose of household chattels.
Our fees and what you get
For all valuation work, our fees are time-based, based on a no-obligation free assessment visit and quotation. Our fees are not related to the valuation we put on your collection of antiques. When we’ve finished, you get an Excel spreadsheet that lists all the items we have valued that you can update as you sell or acquire new items. You get high resolution digital images and you own the rights to them. Depending on what you have, it can be better to choose an hourly rate or a per-item rate. We generally charge £50/hour or £10 per item. If you have lots of similar items an hourly rate might be cheaper. For really tricky antiques requiring a lot of research we will make a specific proposal.