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Can the Smithsonian provide appraisals of objects?

The Smithsonian Institution does not, as a matter of policy, offer monetary evaluations. However, we have compiled the following information that we trust will be helpful. This information is not intended to be comprehensive and does not constitute an endorsement by the Smithsonian Institution.

Gaining an Identification

Local sources of information or personnel to help you identify your object(s) are:

  • university or area libraries
  • state and local historical societies or museums
  • state extension services

Gaining the Value

Antiques, artworks, and other collectible items have such an individual nature that fixed values are difficult to establish. Prices asked and amounts offered are determined by personal interests of both seller and purchaser and by trends in the market.

You can ascertain the current range of prices for items exchanged at sales and auctions by consulting the price guides available in bookstores or public libraries. Also, dealers actively engaged in buying and selling antiques, professional appraisers attached to sales galleries, and official appraisers of local probate courts usually can give prevailing price values. Information on providers of these services can be found in collectors' magazines, in the yellow pages of telephone directories, or in other sources available from the reference librarian in your area library. While the organizations named below do not provide appraisals, each publishes a directory of its member appraisers and offers a computerized referral service:

American Society of Appraisers
P.O. Box 17265
Washington, DC 20041
703/478-2228; 800/272-8258

International Society of Appraisers
Riverview Plaza Office Park
International Society of Appraisers
1131 SW 7th Street, Suite 105
Renton, WA 98005
206/241-0359; Fax: 206/241-0436

Appraisers Association of America
386 Park Avenue South, Suite 2000
New York, NY 10016

Gaining an Offer

You can offer your valuables for sale:

  • through a reputable auction gallery
  • by contacting a professional dealer in antiques
  • by advertising in collectors' magazines or by following such advertisements
  • by contacting collectors in your area or by inserting a notice in local newspapers

Useful References

Auction Galleries Specializing in Antiques, Artworks and Collectibles

Christie's, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020; telephone: 212/636-2000, with branches throughout the U.S. and abroad

William Doyle Galleries, 175 East 87th Street, New York, NY 10128; telephone: 212/427-2730

Freeman/Fine Arts of Philadelphia, Inc., 1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103; telephone: 215/563-9275

Phillips, 406 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021; telephone: 212/570-4830, with branches throughout the U.S. and abroad

Sloans & Kenyon, 7034 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; telephone: 301/634-2330;

Sotheby's, 1334 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021; telephone: 212/606-7000, with branches throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Adam A. Weschler & Son, 909 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004; telephone: 202/628-1281

Collectors' Periodicals and Books

The Antique Dealer and Collectors' Guide, Statuscourt Ltd., P.O. Box 805, Greenwich, London SE10 8TD, UK; e-mail:,

The Antique Trader Weekly, Krause Publications, 700-E State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001;

Antiques & Collecting Magazine, (Hobbies Magazine) Lightner Publishing Corporation, 1006 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605-9840

Apollo (international magazine of the arts), Apollo Magazine, Ltd., 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR, UK; U.S. address: Box 47, North Hollywood, CA 91603-0047;

Collector's Showcase, Source Publications, Inc., 4099 McEwan, Suite 350, Dallas, TX 75244

Kovel's Online price guide, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122;

Maloney's Antiques and Collectibles Resource Directory. 8th ed. Krause Publications, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990 - 0001, 2004;

The Magazine Antiques, Brant Publications Inc., 575 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10012

Last updated: July 2005


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