The objective of this article is to help people become more aware of the fact that all competent antique appraisers have some area or areas of expertise, but no antiques appraiser is knowledgeable of all areas of antiques and collectibles.
Any time you are considering seeking the services of an antiques appraiser, you are highly encouraged to ask the individual what is their area or areas of expertise. If some appraiser tells you he or she can adequately appraise any antique or collectible, I would encourage you to thank him or her for their time and begin looking for another appraiser.
There are hundreds, and probably more than a thousand, of categories (depending on how broad you choose to define a category) of antiques and collectibles out there. When I give educational talks about antiques and collectibles at various social, civic or church service groups, I often share, with an illustrative story, why the most creditable appraisers concentrate on a few categories, and sometimes just one category.
If we start with one broad category such as glass, it can be subdivided into several categories, some of which include the following: cut glass, pressed glass, molded and blown glass, and Depression glass.
There are some serious collectors who specialize only in Depression glass. Some collectors specialize in only one pattern of Depression glass. It is interesting to note that there are more than 200 known patterns of Depression glass. Some serious collectors of Depression glass specialize in only Depression glass made by one specific company. Still other serious collectors specialize in only one color of a certain pattern of Depression glass that was made by one company. Some serious collectors who are this specialized tell me they are still learning every year. They are still finding today some rare variants (even within their very specific collecting focus) that haven't been seen or noticed by previous collectors.
When you think about the implications from the previous paragraph of how many different antiques and collectible items must exist out there in the collecting world, it becomes pretty clear that any appraiser who indicates he or she can adequately appraise any antique or collectible has at least done some wishful thinking. However, I suppose that if one lived for many hundreds of years, they might have had enough time to have seen and studied the authentic items, reproductions and fakes in most categories. But even then, what about the new collecting items that will become future antiques? Next month we will take a closer look at Depression glass.
Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.