Antique appraisers view objects not merely as valuable items for investment and resale, but as tokens of our past. A career in appraising antiques allows you to choose your area of appraisal specialization once you've completed your education. Antique schools offer various degrees and certificates, and each is meaningful to the field. If you have a specific career goal in mind, do your research to ensure the degree type you're earning meets your upcoming employment requirements.
As an antique appraiser, you'll need to learn how to appraise fine art including paintings, sculptures and prints. The College for Appraisers in Whittier, Calif., offers training to help students identify form, media and styles. Classes will emphasize training in identifying original art and various production techniques. Appraisers will also learn how to identify reproductions and fakes. Fine art appraising also demands that students are fluent in etchings, engravings, block prints, lithographs and many more types of art. Most antique appraisal schools offer fine art appraising courses as part of their curriculum.
Furniture knowledge is a vital part of antique appraisal, as antique furniture makes up a huge percentage of the market. Schools like Asheford Institute of Antiques teaches an introduction to furniture periods and styles and offers specialty courses in Victorian, Pennsylvania Dutch, Shaker, Louis XV and many other types of furniture. The Asheford Institute offers training in classical furniture knowledge that covers Jacobean, William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale and Sheraton styles. An antique appraiser will need to be able to look at a piece of furniture and determine if it has been stripped or had repair work done to it. Therefore, schools offer education in paint stripping and restoration.
Rugs are as much antiques as they are works of art, and knowing their history and type is essential to the role of an antique appraiser. The International Society of Appraisers offers a specialized course in oriental rugs. By examining the patterns, materials, color, weaving and stitching, an antique appraisers can tell how old a rug is and where it came from. An antique oriental rug recently sold for $34 million through a Sotheby’s auction -- it was a sickle-leaf, vine scroll and palmette vase-technique carpet from the Kerman style. If you don’t know what this means, you will if you complete the training to become an antiques appraiser. With the proper education, you may just be appraising the next rug worth a fortune.
Appraising toys isn’t child’s play; some toys command serious money and are extremely valuable. A rocket-firing Boba Fett from the Star Wars collection can sell for thousands of dollars, while Steiff teddy bears have been known to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The toy market is an interesting one, as some values are determined by popular trends and media activities. An antiques appraiser must take a toys and collectibles course as part of their education so they can spot those rare mail-only releases and special prototypes.
Jen Saunders is an entrepreneur and veteran journalist who covers a wide range of topics. She made the transition to writing after having spent 12 years in England where she studied and taught English literature.