Caplan's Auction Company
Since 1895
Appraisal - Antiques - Auction - Estate Sale

Servicing all of Central
Maryland and beyond…

(410) 750-7678
(410) 750-7676
(410) 404-8930


Savage Mill Gallery
Cotton Shed
8600 Foundry St.
Savage MD
Phone: 410-750-7676

DC/Montgomery County
3758 Howard Avenue
Kensington MD 20895
Phone: 410-404-8930

Baltimore/Howard County Office
PO Box 6814
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Directions to
Auction Gallery

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Getting An Appraisal

Most people are familiar with Real Estate appraisals. First the real estate appraiser will inspect the property calculating the square footage of the home, quality and type of construction, maintenance and condition, added amenities and upgrades (decks, extra bathrooms, finished basements, etc.), neighborhood and value of the lot. Armed with this information the appraiser using various listing services and tax data bases to research the values and sales of comparable homes within close proximity (usually ½ mile if possible) and within a 6 month period. These sales prices (or "comps") are weighed against the various features of the home and an appraisal value is established. It is this combination of information which often sets the ball park value for the listing or selling price of the home. Clearly, the process for the real estate appraisal is very cut and dried. However the personal property appraisal can be anything but.

With personal property, many people assume that the personal property appraisal sets a definitive price for that item. But the personal property value is unlike the real estate appraisal where only one value is established. The personal property value depends on the type of appraisal that was done and can consist of four different values!

For example, let’s say you are a personal representative for your parent’s estate and inherit a 50 piece set of Baltimore made Stieff Co. Rose pattern sterling silver flatware that was purchased in 1940 for $150. This is the Original Value established at the point and date of purchase. Updating your insurance, you want an idea of what it would cost in today's dollars to replace the set.

This is the most common appraisal known as the Insurance or Replacement Value appraisal. It's done to establish what you could replace the silver for in today's dollars - not what you could sell the flatware for. The appraiser's motive is to establish a replacement value to find the same or like item in a retail marketplace. And in today's marketplace, new Baltimore Stieff Silver is selling for about $100 per piece when ordered through the Stieff Catalog. So the appraised value is $5,000 for the set, certainly the highest value you could place on the silver.

Now let's say the State of Maryland comes knocking at your door, claiming that when you settled the estate, the silver was not included. With the State breathing down your neck (usually represented in Estate situations by the local Register of Wills), you knew the original value from the 1940 receipt for $150 would not be acceptable by them and that $ 5,000 for second-hand silver, not brand new, was too high. The State is seeking a realistic value somewhere in between—the "fair" worth of the silver.

What the State requires is a Fair market Value appraisal, often referred to as the Estate appraisal. Fair market value being defined as the price established between a willing seller and a willing buyer in an open marketplace (such as an Auction). In this case the fair market value would be based on a combination of factors including recent auction records, wholesale, retail and second hand market information as well as silver reference books, price guides and jewelry stores. It should be noted that Auctioneers, like Caplan’s who have frequent Estate Auctions and who also appraise, can usually offer the most accurate fair market appraisals. They have far greater and current "hands on" experience in the marketplace and greater access to the most recent sales information. Currently Stieff Silver is selling at our Auctions at an average of $ 50 per piece establishing the fair market value of the set at about $ 2,500.

All of a sudden, a year after you've remarried, your husband wants to get rid of the silver. Hates it! Here we need a Liquidation Value or Scrap Value appraisal. That is the value of the silver if sold without due process, under duress, and sometimes without a willing seller. As each utensil weighs 1 ounce, the appraiser multiplies 50 times $ 38 per oz., the value of silver per ounce today. And then the appraiser will factor in the profit of the liquidator (sometimes as much as 50%!) for a scrap value of only $ 950. Note: Auctions are better places to sell precious metals. “Cash for Gold” buyers do not compensate the seller for the artistic or collector merit of precious metals such as Coins, Flatware, Jewelry, etc. Our Collectors are paying far and above gold and silver “scrap” values for most items sold thru our Auction.

So as you can see there are many different types of Appraisals and just as many values. Sellers must understand the motive and type of appraisal done to establish reasonable expectations in today’s very volatile marketplace. At Caplan’s we are always happy to provide free verbal fair market values on items sellers are considering placing in the marketplace. Walk-in service or e-mail appraisals (photos helpful) available. Written Certified appraisals for Estates, Insurance, Sales and Legal Matters can also be provided at very reasonable cost.

*The above guide is provided by Caplan's Auction Co. who has provided hundreds of Certified Appraisals for the Baltimore Chapter of the Salvation Army, The NAACP and The Blind Industries of MD. Woman’s Expo at Catonsville Community College, Hopkins Battered Women Hospice, American Cancer Society, Charlestown Retirement Community, Glenelg Country School, Mt. Washington School, Howard County Public Library System, Baltimore County Senior Center Systems, Canaan Valley Antique Roadshow, Chubb, Liberty Mutual & Nationwide Insurance, The Pentagon and The Old Soldier’s Home & Museum and Lincoln’s Summer Cottage in Washington DC., The Internal Revenue Service and all Maryland Register of Wills.

. . . . Written by John Harris, Owner of Caplans Auction

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Call Caplan's Auction (410) 750-7678

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