As part of the numerous items that you and your spouse have accumulated over the years, you likely have several antiques. Or at least you have old things that you believe to be valuable antiques. You will need to equitably divide these things, plus the rest of your marital property, between the two of you in the event of divorce. Assigning a realistic value to old belongings, however, can prove challenging at best.
The problem begins with the fact that not all old objects are antiques. In fact, they likely fall into one of the following categories:
- Retro: something made during the 1950s or 1960s
- Vintage: something made at least 75 years ago
- Antique: something made at least 100 years ago
Given that the year 1950 occurred 70 years ago, some of your retro items will soon achieve vintage status. Nevertheless, the term “retro” likely will continue to apply to items whose style and/or design first appeared in the 1950s, such as Melmac items, original Cornflower Blue Corning Ware pieces, etc.
Unfortunately, true value has little, if anything at all, to do with the sentimental value you place on your old objects. True value relies on all of the following:
- Condition: the amount of wear and tear your item has suffered
- Rarity: how many of these items or similar items currently exist
- Identification: if you can attribute your item to a specific artist, manufacturer, etc. by means of a logo, signature, etc.
- Market value: how many collectors currently collect items like yours and the prices they pay for them
When you need to establish the true value of your old objects, your best chance of doing so is to hire a professional appraiser. Be sure to choose one who has obtained certification from the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.
Be aware that even a professional appraiser, however, cannot realistically appraise all of your old things. Why? Because no single person has the expertise to value all kinds of items. Depending on what you have, you may well need to engage the services of a jewelry appraiser, a furniture appraiser, an art appraiser, etc.