1. Document ProvenanceIf you can provide proof that a piece was once owned by someone famous, or was used in a historically significant context, that’s better than simply relaying a rumor and it will definitely add to the value of an antique. And even if your documentation of provenance doesn’t add monetary value to an object, just knowing who a piece belonged to when it’s passed on from generation to generation will be valued by your family.
Provenance can be documented by:
- Original receipts showing the purchaser’s name.
- A photograph of a person wearing or using an object, or of an object in a specific location.
- Handwritten notes from previous owners or from a gift presentation.
- Other documented research proving an item’s history.
2. Do Some ResearchPart of the fun of hunting and owning antiques comes through learning about them. Sometimes uncovering a fact you didn’t previously know can add to the value as well. Suddenly a vase that was nice to look at transforms into a valuable treasure through research.
Start your value-adding research by answering these questions:
3. Obtain an AuthenticationOnce you’ve done your research and you feel certain you have a valuable antique or collectible on your hands, having it authenticated by a professional would be a good way to add to its value.
An authentication is a letter or certificate coming from someone considered to be an expert in any given field relating to antiques and collectibles. It states in their educated opinion that the piece appears to be genuine. It may also grade the piece in terms of condition, but an authentication will not state an estimation of value. However, having an authentication on hand should you decide to sell will likely help you garner a higher price, especially with a rare object or an item that has been commonly reproduced.
4. Obtain an AppraisalSometimes authentication is done as a part of the appraisal process, but not always. Many appraisers research values on items outside their areas of expertise. Ask what your appraiser will include in their documentation. If you need separate authentication, it’s wise to know this before you begin.
Also keep in mind there’s a difference between a written appraisal and a verbal estimation of value. Showing a piece to an antique dealer or appraiser and asking them what something is worth is different than a well-researched, documented written appraisal based on past sales records rather than an off-the-cuff educated guess. Either type of appraisal, however, might add value to an antique if you have no clue about what it’s worth.