The Antiques and Residential Contents (ARC) Course is an essential course for the generalist appraiser. While intended as one of the major courses for ISA members, it is also open to members of other organizations, as well as those who just want to learn more about antiques and those interesting things found around the home which may have value. If you are like many of us, you live and practice in an area where you may be the only appraiser for miles and you get called on to appraise everything in the home. Or maybe you have a specialty area for which there is currently a lower demand and you’re taking on other assignments as well.
The completion of the Core Course in Appraisal Studies is just the first step in your ISA education. It covers the fundamentals you need to know before taking on an appraisal assignment. The next step is to decide what path you want to take in your appraisal career. The two primary paths are Fine Art and Antiques & Residential Contents. Each of these has its own specialty course which is required to reach the ISA AM designation (Accredited Member) in that specialty. You will discover that more and more insurance companies, attorneys and courts are requiring “accredited” or “certified” appraisers.
While most of those clients likely don’t understand what those distinctions mean – or are working under the assumption that there is some type of state credentialing – as an ISA Accredited Member, you are in a position to explain that you took a particular path in your professional career to belong to a society that requires education and keeps its members well-informed and up-to-date. This is a strong advantage you have over those without the training and credentialing.
Let’s look more closely at what the ARC course offers:
- The ARC manual has just undergone a major revision. In addition to clarifying and expanding the existing topics, a number of new topics have been added which the generalist appraiser may frequently encounter. The addition of color photographs pair nicely with the text to give the student a more efficient understanding of the items being discussed. You will find that this manual will become one of the most useful references in your appraisal career.
- Areas covered include French, English and American furniture with a stronger emphasis on American, going through all the major design periods and styles from 1600 to the present. You will see the parallels between furniture and all other decorative arts fields.
- You will learn about ceramics: pottery and porcelain, glass and silver, dolls and toys, textiles, musical instruments, books, prints and much more.
- This course is not intended to make you an expert in any of these fields but is instead geared towards giving you a comprehensive general knowledge that will assist you in performing valuations on future assignment. In that vein, two new topics were added to the course. The first is research methods. This is to assist both the new and more experienced appraisers to more quickly find information and comparables for the items they are researching. The second is connoisseurship for the generalist appraiser. How do the attributes of the item you are appraising compare to other similar items you might find. Is it better? Is it worse? What do the differences mean as far as value?
- Another new topic that has been added: report writing. You will learn how to create clearer, more understandable reports while ensuring that they also meet all the requirements of the ISA Report Writing Standard and USPAP. The ARC class also includes a field trip to a local antiques shop, where you will see firsthand examples of some of the items we have discussed.
- If you are an ISA Member, it is – along with the Fine Arts course – one of the two paths to Accredited Member designation.
- You will gain a familiarity with many of the types of property you will come in contact with while performing appraisals.
- You will learn to describe many types of property properly in your reports.
- You will improve your report writing skills.
- You will come in contact with colleagues and create friendships, some of which may last a lifetime.