For Appraisers, the Learning Process Never Ends

When one becomes a personal property appraiser, your education never ends. It is an ongoing learning process. You are continually updating your credentials and keeping in touch with the changing practices. There is always something new to learn, be it about the process of the business or of items you appraise. We appraisers are continually seeking out new information.

Last weekend, around 260 of like-minded personal property appraisers gathered at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville for the annual International Society of Appraisers convention.

The three-day event featured a lineup of speakers ,a who’s-who of antiques and collectible experts, from Leigh Keno (of Keno Auctions and “Antique Roadshow” fame), who spoke on integrity in the market place, to Joseph Bothwell, from the Internal Revenue Service’s Art Advisory Panel, who discussed changes to Appraisals for Tax Purposees.

There were talks on Civil War artifacts, American folk art, identifying different kinds of wood, working with adjusters and insurance companies, Southern pottery, antique frames, photography, Modernism, American silver and sculptures by Remington and Russell, to name a few of the choices.

In addition to the breakout sessions, ISA held an auction one evening benefiting the Foundation for Appraisal Education. Lee Dunbar—another “Antiques Roadshow” regular, was auctioneer for the evening and kept us laughing throughout the evening’s events. The Heart of Country Antique Show was running concurrently at the hotel, and across the street within walking distance The Fiddlers Antique Show, was set up. It was such a great weekend of education and antiques for an antique lover like me.

William Adair restores vintage and antique frames (Doug Blunt Photography)

I have been to numerous ISA events, and it is always an educationally enriching experience. But the one thing I found so interesting at the conference this year was a presentation about antique picture frames given by William Adair, who restores vintage and antique frames. He says that picture frame has been neglected over the years and is working to store what he can and educate collectors about why original frames are important.

The purpose of a frame, he says, is to complement a work of art. It should not be noticed, if it is noticed or stands out from the work of art then it is not doing its job properly. Over the years, museums and galleries alike, Adair says, discarded the old and original frames on fabulous art and replace them with reproduction frames. With the help of people like Adair, we are now beginning to understand that a period frame is a good thing. Many are worth restoration and not being discarded as they have in the past.

Antique frames aside, the most important message I left the conference with was that no one appraiser can know everything about every item. Know your own limits. Turn down jobs where you don’t feel comfortable or it is out of your niche. I am also learning that networking is a big key, and the great thing about being a member of the International Society of Appraisers is through the web site and our local chapter, I am able to connect with other members with knowledge in areas I may be weak in and get a second opinion, pick their brain, and make sure I am on the right tract with a particular appraisal. ISA’s focus is on education and a strong code of ethics. This education and knowledge helps appraisers move forward with a successful business.

I am already looking forward to next year’s ISA convention and I am anxious to find out where it will be held and the topics of discussions.

Maggie Turnipseed is WorthPoint’s lead Worthologist. She is a generalist.


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