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I had my first quilt appraisal done for all the wrong reasons. I was curious. I wanted to know if the quilt I had just finished was worth anything. When I got the appraisal back, I was amazed at the value that had been placed on my little wall hanging. I had no idea how they arrived at that dollar amount and I didn’t question if the appraiser had any expertise in appraising quilts.
Why should you have your quilts appraised? Most quilt appraisals are done for an insurance value. It is written proof of the value of your quilt so you can insure it with your home owner’s insurance or when you ship it. The insurance value placed on your quilt is the amount it would cost to replace your quilt if it was lost, stolen or damaged. It is not the amount that your quilt would sell for. These two amounts may differ, particularly in quilts made in recent years. For instance, for a recently made quilt the insurance value should allow enough money to purchase all the required materials and hire someone to piece the top, quilt it and bind it. When you start adding it all up, the replacement amount is more than what a similar quilt would sell for, mainly due to the labor costs involved. For antique quilts, the insurance value and the fair market value are the same since you would not completely remake an antique quilt, you would just find a similar antique quilt to replace the damaged one.
When should you get an appraisal? As soon as you have finished your quilt! Okay, maybe not all quilts need to be appraised. The quilt you made from old clothing for your dog to sleep on may not be very valuable. However, most quilters spend a lot of time and money on their quilts. Protect your investment! Quilts get lost and stolen. Without an appraisal, the most you could hope to receive is the cost of materials, and often times you won’t even get that. You definitely want an appraisal done before you ship your quilt or enter it in a show. Consider getting an appraisal on the quilt you intend to give as a gift. The recipient will most likely value your quilt more when they realize what it’s really worth. And be sure to keep your appraisals current. Most insurance companies want a new appraisal done every three to five years.
It is important to know your appraiser’s qualifications. Where did she get her training? Is she knowledgeable? Does she specialize in quilts? Ask for her resume. A good appraiser will be able to tell you the approximate age of your antique quilt and probably many other interesting facts. The appraisal should be written and should describe your quilt in detail. Some appraisers offer verbal appraisals, but remember that this will only satisfy your curiosity. It would not be accepted by your insurance company if you needed to file a claim.
Quilts are commonly valued in the multiple hundreds and even multiple thousands of dollars. Look at your quilts through new eyes. How would you feel if they were stolen? Don’t they deserve your protection?
Article originally published September 2000
© 2000, Maria Elkins