Deborah J Roberts 
Quilt & Textile Appraiser, certified by AQS

Appraisal FAQs

Over a period of time, there have been many inquiries and questions regarding quilt appraisal  In order to simplify things for the reader, and hopefully answer your questions without delay, I have attempted to answer some of the more common questions I have received here. If after reading these FAQs and answers here, you still have questions, or need help in locating an appraiser near you, please email Deborah Roberts.


Q: What is my quilt worth?

When determining value for a written appraisal several factors are considered:  Workmanship, condition, size, age, rarity, pattern or motif(s), date, fame of maker (or provenance). It is also important that the appraiser know the purpose of the appraisal. Is it for insurance purposes (for coverage or for a claim), sale or resale, equitable division of property, IRS obligation (probate, estate, gift tax, or charitable contribution)? The value of your quilt may differ depending upon the reason for the appraisal.

Q: Do I need to have a written appraisal?

A: It depends upon your reason for wanting to know the value.  A written appraisal is required by insurance companies, some show managers and the IRS to establish a value in the event of loss or for donation purposes.

In some cases, when a client feels they just want an idea of what their quilt may be worth, at times a knowledgeable appraiser may provide an oral estimate or value estimate of the quilt in question. While a value estimate might be provided from a description and detailed photograph, it is impossible to determine a quilt's real value without examining the quilt first hand.  A value estimate is not a legal appraisal and cannot be used for insurance or IRS purposes.  Its only place is to give the owner some idea of what their quilt might be worth and has no benefit other than to supply knowledge.

Q: What if I have a loss and do not have an appraisal?

A: In this or similar unfortunate situations, it is possible to do what is known as an, After-the-Fact Appraisal.  In this situation, a description and image of the item lost are beneficial.  In a case like this, one would receive an estimate of value as the actual piece was not seen by the appraiser.

Q: What does the appraisal consist of?
A: One should receive a formally written report of the value of their property. At the very least, it should include a complete and accurate description of the quilt, a defined value, with the methodology used in selecting the value; the purpose of the appraisal, and the signature of the appraiser.

DO NOT ACCEPT the appraisal if it is unsigned, does not include a description of the property, or the fee is based on contingency (percent of value), or the appraiser attempts to appraise your quilt from a photograph.

Q: Is is okay to let my quilt dealer appraise my quilt?
The answer to this question depends upon the dealer. A reputable dealer/appraiser will not appraise a quilt that they are interested in purchasing, or have any vested interest in. This would be a conflict of interest. If a situation occurs where the appraiser or dealer is interested in purchasing your quilt, an ethical appraiser will refer you to a colleague for the appraisal.

Q: How do I find a knowledgeable and qualified appraiser?
A: Anyone can appraise. There is no licensing or certification required of appraisers at this time, and until there is legislation passed to protect the public from unqualified appraisers, it is up to you the consumer to decide whether the appraiser you choose is qualified. When attempting to select an appraiser, here are some questions you should ask: 

  1.  What qualifies you to appraise quilts? Education covering appraisal standards, principles, procedures and ethics are of utmost importance. An appraiser who has undergone comprehensive testing by a nationally recognized appraisal organization is a way to insure competence.  Especially when dealing within a specific area, such as quilts, one would want to ascertain if quilts are the appraiser's area of expertise. Someone may have been certified by a national organization, and be able to identify each detail of your quilt, but may not know how to evaluate it for its worth ~ it should be clear to you that the appraiser understands the quilt marketplace and knows of the various marketplace terms used to establish appropriate value. One would also want to ascertain if the appraiser is knowledgeable about antique, modern, contemporary, as well as art quilt values, as well as what their qualifications are.
  2. How many years have you been appraising quilts? Simply because one has been appraising quilts for a long period of time does not mean that they are doing it right. A quilt appraiser needs to have both experience and expertise. This question is only valid, when taken into proper perspective.
  3. Will you supply references? An ethical appraiser has an obligation of confidentiality to all clients. However, after obtaining permission, the appraiser may supply you with the names of clients for you to contact regarding references.
  4. Will you consult with other appraisers if my quilt is outside your area of expertise? With few exceptions, most general personal property appraisers do not know the value of everything without research and/or consultation. A competent appraiser will not hesitate to contact other sources when necessary. Again, the question of related expertise will help you determine competence. 
  5. Are you willing to defend your appraisals in a court of law? ANY competent appraiser will be willing to support and substantiate a given value in a court of law.
  6. What do you charge for an appraisal? It is unethical for an appraiser to charge a fee based on a percentage of value, nor will the IRS accept such an appraisal. The fee charged by a reputable appraiser should be based upon a standard per/appraisal fee, pre-specified contract price, or an hourly fee, plus expenses if appropriate.

Hopefully this has helped answer some questions you may have regarding quilt appraisal, if not, please contact me.