Pierce Galleries, Hingham and Nantucket Fine Art Dealers, Museum Quality Paintings
Fine Art Appraisals

Patricia Jobe Pierce is a certified member in good standing of the Appraisers Association of America (NYC), and has successfully completed a 15-hour course and examination on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), the Congressionally-recognized set of appraisal standards promulgated by The Appraisers Foundation:  completed on April 6, 2010, effective through April 6, 2015.  All appraisals conducted by Patricia Jobe Pierce will fulfill USPAP standards.

          Pierce has been an art dealer and free-lance writer since 1966, she is the author of numerous art books, news and magazine articles and art videos. She is a public speaker and is currently organizing six touring museum exhibitions. As a qualified, knowledgeable appraiser of American art, Pierce compiles detailed, informed, accurate written appraisals for individuals, estates, corporations, museums, institutions and the I.R.S.

Before asking someone to appraise an item (s), first know what type of appraisal you require and need:

An insurance appraisal gives the current retail replacement value.

An appraisal for a charitable donation gives the fair market value.

An appraisal for asset and estate management or liquidation gives the wholesale value.

An appraisal for rapid liquidation gives the wholesale value.

An appraisal related to a death, divorce or business dissolution that requires equitable distribution gives a wholesale or cash market value.

An appraisal to know exact worth gives replacement value.


1. Make certain the person you want to appraise fine art and antiques is a qualified, scholarly, professional appraiser who is a member in good standing of a leading appraisal association or society.

2. Never accept as realistic or honest the appraisal of someone who asks to purchase an item he or she wants to appraise or has been asked to appraise. That is a conflict of interest.

3. Never sell an item to its appraiser, unless one year has passed from the date of said appraisal. For an appraiser to purchase or make an offer on something he or she has appraised is unethical, unless one year or more has passed.

4. Verbal appraisals are hearsay and virtually worthless.

5. If an item is valued over $5,000, get a written appraisal from a qualified, professional appraiser so that it can properly be covered by insurance in cause of loss or damage. Make certain you understand an insurance company’s rules and regulations regarding the ownership of fine arts and antiques. Insurance companies often require collectors to purchase separate fine arts’ floaters to cover fine art and antiques.

6. Keep a copy of all appraisals in a bank vault and send a copy of all appraisals to your insurance company. It is not wise to keep appraisals in home files, where thieves or vandals may find them and discover the value of your art and antiques. Fires also can destroy appraisals. Should that happen, your appraiser may have a copy of said appraisal.

7. Do not accept a slipshod appraisal that describes items in one or two lines and gives an arbitrary value. Each item appraised should be described in detail, with dimensions, media, signature facsimile/placement, condition, date, inscription and label details, AND exhibition, literature, award, provenance and conservation histories. The manner in which values are determined also needs to be discussed in detail. Anything less is not acceptable in a court of law.

8. Never pay an appraiser a fee that represents a percentage of the total value of an appraisal! This practice is unethical. An appraiser should put in writing his or her fees for travel expenses, research and the typing of an appraisal before the work begins. (Note: Pay appraisal fees with a check or money order only. If you cannot prove that you paid for an appraisal, it usually will be null and void if and when an insurance claim is filed.)

9. Keep photographs and the proof of purchase of appraised items in a bank vault.

10. Make certain the appraiser gives his or her personal qualifications and professional credentials as an appraiser. Attach that statement or resumé to the appraisal. If a problem should arise, a person who is an expert on Renaissance tapestries probably will not be considered qualified to appraise a 20th century American painting, and vice versa.

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BE INFORMED! Excellent legal references regarding appraisals are:

1. Ralph E. Lerner and Judith Bresler, Art Law, 2nd edition, 2 volumes (NYC: Practicing Law Institute, 1998), sells for $125.00 from the Appraisers Association of America, NYC.

2. USPAP 2000, Appraisal Standards Board, The Appraisal Foundation, Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, 2000 edition (authorized by Congress), sells for $20.00 from the Appraisers Association of America, NYC.

3. For a list of qualified appraisers in all fields, email the Appraisers Association of America and request a copy of their membership directory.

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1. Before the Internet, buying and selling art and antiques was veiled in mystery, intrigue and secrecy. Few collectors knew if dealers had purchased items from auction or if items offered to them had ever been sold or bought-in at auction. Dealers worldwide rarely disclosed auction purchases and/or named an auction as their source. Before access to the Internet, gallery and antique store prices determined the value of fine arts and antiques, and because most auction results were not broadly known, auctions results did not exclusively determine value. Today, all sale results achieved from every sale at major auction houses in America are recorded online (with illustrations and data), making it difficult for anyone to appraise auctioned items within a three-to-five year period for more than the prices they fetched at auction. Of course, there are exceptions to this statement, but the fact still remains: It is no longer wise or advisable for collectors who are investors to buy at auction unless they plan to hold art and antiques they purchase at auction for more than 5 years. Why? Because the exposure of being able to find auction results on line, shops the auctioned items and reveals selling prices. Few people want to give a buyer a profit, whether that buyer is a dealer or a collector! Thus, in order to make discreet art and antique transactions that will retain or go up in value, it’s wise to purchase “virgin” paintings and antiques that have not been shopped at auction and/or on the Internet. It’s as simple as that.

2. The novice cannot determine whether or not an auctioned item is authentic or a forgery. There are many fake Jane Peterson paintings listed online as authentic Jane Peterson oils and works on paper. A fake Peterson painting usually does not bring as much as an authentic Peterson painting, but the novice or beginning collector does not know the difference. Therefore, the incorrect conjectures or opinions of the uninformed or ignorant regarding the price structure of an artist’s work harms the art market and makes appraising all the more arduous.

3. FRAUD: Many online auction sites offer for sale blatant fakes or items overly restored or in poor condition. Forgeries and misrepresentations run rampant on the Internet’s so-called “antique” oriental market (Buddha, Quan Yin and Foo Lion sculptures; ivories; jade pieces; netsuke, etc.) and in the painting and sculpture markets. Few sellers on the Internet give reliable information and/or accurate provenance data, yet many Internet sites maintain that any seller is an expert for any item he or she offers for sale. In other words, everyone is an expert on the Internet! The old saying, “Buyer beware,” holds true here. The Internet is an ideal place for the greedy to meet the conniving. If you don’t fit into one of those two categories, make haste slowly when buying art and antiques on the Internet.

4. If you purchase art and antiques from Internet sites, make certain those sites guarantee the authenticity of all the merchandise they offer or sell; that they will deliver said merchandise in good condition; and that they support their statements with a money back guarantee. If the site does not guarantee the authenticity and condition of what it offers and/or sells in writing, do business elsewhere.

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