Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Return of Army Pinks and Greens?

The Army Times is reporting that Sergeant Major of the Army, Dan Dailey, is working on bringing back the old ‘pinks and greens’ uniform of the Second World War era.

Dailey is to address an upcoming uniform board meeting about bringing back the iconic uniform for daily business settings.

His idea is to highlight old army traditions - something the Marine Corps does so well with its uniforms and give soldiers an alternative to camouflage.

Of 5,000 Army Times active duty readers surveyed, 77% viewed the old uniform favorably, while 72% said they’d like to see the pinks and greens come back as an option to camouflage and dress blues.

If the idea is approved, the army will have to work through costs and uniform allowances, but it seems to have good momentum within the army itself.

I know it’s too much to expect any return of even a variation on our WWI-era uniforms, so I wish the Sergeant Major success with the old Nazi killer threads.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

3 Easy Tips for Appraisal Preparation

Contrary to the image given appraisals by programs like Antiques Roadshow, professionally written appraisals are very serious documents. They are products of diligent research that must respond to myriad conditions and circumstances, all of which are processed by the appraiser.

The true professional appraiser spends considerable time and effort keeping up their credentials by constantly pursuing continuing education – on top of the time they’ve already put in that gives them expertise in a given field.

Appraisals may serve as evidence in a court case, or as documented support for an insurance claim. They may be the go-to document for a family wanting to split up an estate fairly and efficiently. I’m sure you can come up with other very serious uses for an appraisal.

‘You get what you pay for’ is the philosophy at work here.

All the same, there are ways a client can help expedite the appraisal process and save themselves money. As with most things in life, the best way is by paying special attention to the organization of the items under consideration.

Clients regularly ask how we can streamline their process to both expedite the final product and save themselves a bit of money. Because I too want the process to go as smoothly as possible, I offer the following tips:

1) Organize the items to be evaluated in a well-lit area that provides the inspecting appraiser a 360-degree view of the items, including room to tip large items to view the undersides or backs.

For fine art, it may be necessary to remove an item from its frame. Fine art appraisers like myself are knowledgeable about this process. When it comes to fine art, bear in mind that the frame rarely adds value to the work itself, so don’t worry about it being removed briefly from its frame. Appraisers are adept and removal without compromising the frame.

Having the work secured back in the frame is usually quite painless. If the back of the frame is sealed by a large sheet of paper, it may be that there is an attempt there to hide something that will significantly impact value, and appraisers must be sure of all aspects of your piece before rendering a trustworthy value conclusion. This is for your own good, as they say!

2) Talk to your appraiser about cleaning up the items before the inspection. This is an important step because there are some kinds of items whose value might be harmed by cleaning, such as things with confirmed historical importance, and your appraiser will surely tell you not to touch a thing.

Your appraiser should also be able to offer you handy tips for safely cleaning up your items in a way that will make them look their best, no matter what their condition. Even if cleaning up something means exposing a flaw, it should be done. Believe it or not, the flaw may actually add value to a piece, but in the end what you want is an accurate valuation of the item in its current state.

3) Gather any provenance beforehand, that is to say, formal documentation of an item’s journey through the past, such as its gallery or show appearances, loans or displays in museums, and any previous sale documentation whether auction or private. These documents may well save the appraiser time by helping streamline the research process.

But don’t panic if your item doesn’t have any of these things – absence of provenance is more common than you might expect!

So there you are! Three easy things you can do that can save you money and help your appraiser produce the most accurate appraisal document possible!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Antiques Roadshow: Reality Stick Edition

Antiques Roadshow is a very popular program with many of my clients. For my own part, I appreciate how the show traces the history of an item and contextualizes it with value.

The downside is that often I encounter people with the expectation that because their item is old, it just must have excellent monetary value.

Explaining reality - especially when disappointing - is itself an art form, and appraisers must be adept at it.

Here’s an example of expectation meeting cold, hard reality. I’m not sure the UK Antiques Roadshow appraiser was quite ready for the man’s reaction...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Galileo Goes Under the Hammer (In a Good Way This Time)

In 1638, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) published what would be his final work, Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche Intorno a Due Nuove Scienze, (Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences).

As most people already know, Galileo was a true polymath with extensive experience in astronomy, mathematics, physics, engineering, and philosophy. His role in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century is celebrated with good reason.

Credit: Pierre Bergé & Associés
Because of his championing of Copernicus and heliocentrism, he was something of a target for religious authorities. By the time …Two New Sciences was published in 1638, Galileo had been under house arrest for several years, having been investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615.

Their conclusion was that his support of heliocentrism was ‘foolish and absurd, and formally heretical.’

He made things worse for himself when he published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Worlds Systems (1632), in which he appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII. The trouble with this was that both Urban and the Jesuits had been supportive of Galileo up to this point. Their support, of course, ceased.

Credit: Pierre Bergé & Associés
Further, Galileo was suspected of heresy, and the book was placed on the church’s Index of Forbidden Books, where it remained until 1835. In fact, all of Galileo’s writings were essentially banned in many Catholic countries.

As for …Two New Sciences, it is widely considered the first physics textbook and is found on the list of the fifty most valuable scientific documents of all time.

Written while under house arrest, and dedicated to the French Ambassador to the Holy See, it was to be his last major published work and essentially recounted his work in physics over the last thirty years.

Its significance is found in the mathematical analysis experiment regarding problems in mechanics and dynamics.

Original copies are rare to find in the market, yet on April 26, 2017, a copy went under the auction hammer in Paris at the firm Pierre Bergé & Associés, with an estimated range of €700,000 and €900,000.

Credit: Pierre Bergé & Associés
This edition, published in Leiden (The Netherlands), was dedicated before being sent to François de Noailles, Comte d ' Ayen (1584-1645).

It is presumed to have been bound by Le Gascon, judging by the style of some of his other bindings of the era. It is with full Moroccan red leather boards, tooled with gold, with marbled endpapers.

It remains a stunning and obviously rare edition. It realized €727,919 inclusive of fees.

See the original auction listing here.

Earlier this week, I completed a 7-hour update course on the Uniform Standards of the Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), which is required to maintain membership in the International Society of Appraisers (ISA). 

Formally educated appraisers that are members of professional appraisal associations like ISA are also required to maintain
USPAP compliance and keep current with changing rules through continuing education. 

Compliance involves an initial two-day 15 hour class (including exam), and a 7-hour update class every two years. Whether or not you need an appraisal that will be reviewed by the IRS, full USPAP compliance along with affiliation with a professional appraisal association are the truest indications of an appraiser’s seriousness and professionalism. The ISA requires members to take this course every two years in order to stay current with changes in the standards which reflect current laws.

If these standards are new to you, here’s a basic overview of the rationale:

USPAP was established for appraisers who evaluate real estate to fine art, rare books, collectibles, intangibles, and business valuations in the United States and territories. The IRS requires appraisals written for their use to be USPAP-compliant for certain amounts.
I'm expecting a more formal certificate soon...

It was developed with the express purpose of promoting and maintaining a high level of public trust and confidence in the professional appraisal practice. The development of uniform standards enhances the role of the appraiser in society and reinforces the appraiser’s obligations to act in a manner that promotes public trust and confidence.
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) reflect the multifaceted nature of the profession. USPAP changes are made in conjunction with changes to the appraisal profession, as well as the changing needs of potential clients. The changes are intended to improve the clarity, understanding, and enforcement of USPAP.

Click here for more on USPAP. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Condition is King!

In real estate, it's all about location, location, location.

In personal property, it's condition, condition, condition!