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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The ISA Ambassador Program's First Anniversary

Jan Robbins Durr, ISA CAPP
Membership Retention Chair
As we approach the first anniversary of the Ambassador Program, I would like to thank all our ISA appraiser volunteers who have participated in making it a success. If you remember back to your first years, beginning an appraisal career can seem a daunting task. Wouldn’t we all have been more confident in our business decisions with an experienced person as our sounding board?

The Ambassador program brings strength to our members and organization by:
  • Providing connections to our membership
  • Supporting our newest members in a tangible, consistent manner
  • Forging friendships with like-minded colleagues in multiple disciplines
Our Ambassadors are AMs and CAPPs assigned to all new members. The Membership Retention Committee provides a short manual for reference to guide the Ambassador through our member benefits, membership levels, ISA Means Business! Toolbox, and maneuvering the ISA website. Ambassadors refer all educational questions to the Director of Education, Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP, at

Please consider volunteering in 2018 as one of your New Year’s Resolutions! We are an organization that prides ourselves on our strong networking. Attending Assets is proof of the camaraderie that develops when we share our knowledge and passion for this career. Contact ISA's Senior Account Coordinator Michelle VanAlstyne at to serve as an Ambassador.

"Joining the Ambassador Program has been a life saver. I live in a remote area and the connection and support from Cindy [Charleston-Rosenberg] has been invaluable. Her generosity in sharing her experience and ideas has made me feel more comfortable and confident with my new appraisal aspect of my business. I can't thank her and the ISA enough for this support, and hope that one day I'll have enough knowledge to share with a new appraiser." - Larissa Wild Gould, ISA

- Jan Robbins Durr, ISA CAPP, Membership Retention Chair

Friday, October 20, 2017

Protecting Your Collection and Your Wallet: What You Could Lose If You Suffer a Loss Without an Appraisal

Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, JD, ISA CAPP
As an appraiser, I have worked on a lot of insurance claims, including losses due to fire, theft, transit damage, and flood. The number one mistake most insureds make is not being prepared in advance.

Imagine that your house has burned to the ground and everything inside it destroyed. The insurance company requests an inventory of EVERYTHING inside. Do you know how many kitchen pots you have? Shoes? Tools? Most people remember the large, expensive items, but forget numerous smaller items. These items add up quickly.

And, those large, expensive items? They may or may not be covered depending upon how your policy is written and whether you have the appropriate riders in place. Most insurance companies will require an appraisal to insure these items.

This article will help you prepare for a potential loss. Some steps you can take on your own, but others will require the assistance of a professional appraiser.

Understand Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

The biggest problem I see after a devastating loss is underinsurance, meaning that homeowners suffer a loss yet fail to recover tens of thousands of dollars just at the time when they have lost everything they hold dear. How do you prevent this?

Every insurance policy is different and you should work with your insurance agent to understand how your policy works. However, there are a few common traits most homeowner’s policies share. If you understand these commonalities, you can ask the right questions to ensure that your coverage is adequate.

Take steps to insure your home - and its contents.

Most homeowner’s policies have a total coverage limit for household contents that is based upon a percentage of your home’s value. For example, if you have a $400,000 home, you might have 50% in personal property coverage ($200,000) or you might have 75% in personal property coverage ($300,000). You need to know what that amount is and feel confident that you can replace every item of personal property in your home, from fine art to furniture to clothing, for that amount. If you are buying furniture from designers, have some nice rugs and fine art, or are a collector, these limits can be easily exceeded. If you have expensive tools or lawn equipment in your garage, you should also consider those items.

Next, even if that limit appears sufficient, your policy may have special limits for certain categories of items. Most homeowner’s policies have dollar limits on jewelry, fine art, rugs, silver, collectibles, antiques, guns, etc. The limits generally range from a few thousand dollars to $5,000 or $10,000 per category. However, if you have two or three nice rugs or pieces of fine art in your home, you can quickly exceed those limits.

For example, assume that you have three nice, original paintings in your home. You inherited one and are unsure of its value, you purchased one ten years ago for $3,000 and you recently bought a third painting for $4,000. At this point, you know you have at least $7,000 worth of fine art. If you have a $5,000 special limit on fine art, you will need a rider adding coverage to your homeowner’s insurance. Otherwise, in the event of a loss of the three paintings (and any other fine art you may own) you will only be reimbursed up to $5,000, regardless of the total value of the paintings. So, if the inherited painting turns out to be worth a fortune, you just lost it. Adding a rider, or additional special coverage, to your homeowner’s policy will protect against that loss. And, it will often require a professional appraisal of the paintings in advance. Understanding your policy and making sure you have adequate coverage is crucial to protecting yourself against such unanticipated losses.

Be sure to keep track of all your antiques and collectibles,
not just fine art.

The most common mistake that I see clients make is that they remember to get their jewelry appraised but forget about their rugs, silver, antiques and collectibles. Make sure you ask your insurance agent the right questions and fully understand your homeowner’s policy.
I recommend having a conference call with an appraiser and your insurance agent so that everyone can be on the same page as to which items need to be appraised. Many competent, ISA-trained appraisers can help facilitate a discussion with your insurance agent to ensure that you get the necessary items appraised and properly insured.

Create an Inventory

Create an inventory of items that you own. This can be done on your own or with the assistance of a professional appraiser. A written, photographic, or videoed inventory can mean the difference between coverage and non-coverage.

The purpose of an inventory is two-fold. First, it proves to the insurance company that the items existed and were in your home. Second, a good inventory will provide details about the items (type, style, quality, condition, brand, etc.) that will ensure accurate replacement should replacement become necessary.

If you do not want to do this yourself, or fear you may not know what information to capture, many appraisers will create an inventory for you. If you know you have valuable items that will require a rider, then ask the appraiser to create an inventory for you while they are already on site appraising your other items.

Take stock of all the contents of your home and garage -
You may be surprised at how much you own.
Many appraisers can photograph every room of the house in an organized, orderly fashion that is easy to follow, and focus on the more valuable items. Appraisers generally have a good eye for value and quality and will know what objects to focus on and what types of photographs to take, but we never want to miss anything that is important to you. Make sure that you point out items in advance that you know are particularly valuable or important to you so the appraiser knows what to capture.
Photographic inventories can be invaluable in the event of a loss, and I generally recommend clients store photographs on a flash drive (or two) and keep at least one flash drive off site in a secure location.

Keep Good Records

For those expensive purchases, including jewelry, fine art and the riding lawn mower in the garage, make sure that you keep receipts. Insurance companies will often ask for proof of purchase price for expensive items, particularly if they are not listed on a rider prior to the loss and/or you paid cash for them. Keep copies of the receipts in a secure location offsite or digitize them and save them in the cloud. Alternatively, you should be able to look up major purchases on your credit card statements. Insurance companies will often accept those records as proof of purchase.

For items such as fine art or an important antique, keeping the receipt may also help prove provenance. Provenance is an item’s record of ownership that is often used to help determine authenticity, quality and ultimately value. An item with a good provenance often has more value than an item without a provenance. Keeping good records should become a habit whenever a substantial purchase is made.

If the Worst Happens

Unfortunately, claims sometimes happen. Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you need to file a claim:

  1. File your claim as soon as possible. Do not miss the deadline for notice. If you do, you may not be covered.
  2. Make sure that when you file a claim it is as complete as possible. If you’ve had items damaged in a move, take an extra day or two to make sure you’ve listed EVERYTHING as long as it won’t cause the claim to be late. If you find items later and add them to the list, it may look suspicious.
  3. When asked how old an item is and what was paid for it, be honest and reasonable. When possible support your statements with receipts and/or credit card statements. If you are unsure how much was paid, just say so and explain why. Perhaps the item was a gift or it was inherited.
  4. Once you open a claim, keep a file for that claim. The file can be electronic or printed, but it should include all correspondence, any photos, any receipts, all emails, etc. Ideally, you should also keep a notepad handy to record every verbal interaction with the insurance company. Include the date of any call, who you spoke to, what was discussed and how long the call was. Keep a copy of the insurance policy handy too. If you do not have one, ask for it. If you need to hire an appraiser, it may be helpful for the appraiser to see the policy. This will let them know the type of policy and any special limits, etc.

What You Should Do TODAY

Call your insurance company and make sure that you understand your policy. If you have items that need to be put on a rider, call an ISA appraiser and have them assist you in:
  1. Figuring out which items should be appraised 
  2. Creating an inventory
  3. Writing an appraisal for high-value items.
A little bit of work up front can save you LOTS of time, money and frustration should the worst happen.

Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, JD, ISA CAPP is the owner of Minerva Appraisal, LLC, a general personal property appraisal firm offering a full range of professional appraisal services in the Nashville, TN area. She appraises antiques, fine art, silver, furniture, ceramics, etc., and considers herself a "general contractor" of appraisal services.

For more information on the importance of working with a credentialed ISA appraiser and to search for one by location or specialty, please visit the Find an ISA Member page.

Would you like to be an ISA blog contributor? Email us.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ask an Instructor: Office Hours and Appraising Experience

ISA members are invited to send in their questions on all things appraising and education to ISA's instructors. One of ISA's instructors will share answers on the ISA Now Blog. Please send questions to

Question: When is the next Office Hours webinar?

Answer: The next Office Hours with the Director of Education will be held on December 5th at 2pm CST. It’s a free webinar open to all ISA members for a lively question and answer session on the topics of your choice. Mark your calendar now!

Question: I’m having a little bit of trouble obtaining my 700 USPAP-compliant hours to reach the ISA Accredited Member (AM) level. Any suggestions for ways to gain more appraisal-specific experience hours?

Answer: Yes! I can certainly help. There are lots of ways for you to gain qualified hours. Remember that the hours must be towards the development and report of a USPAP-compliant appraisal. Thus, the hours can be your actual time spent performing the appraisal, both billable hours and non-billable (gratis) hours. Contact me today at to discuss a plan of action that would work best for you

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Signing Your Appraisal Report

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
I was recently asked about where you should sign your appraisal report. It may seem like a silly question, but it’s actually not. Although USPAP does not dictate the form, format, or style of how to prepare an appraisal report, it is very specific in that the written appraisal report must include a signed certification statement. See USPAP 2016-2017 Edition Standards Rule 8-2(a)(xii) for Appraisal Reports and Standards Rule 8-2(b)(xii) for Restricted Appraisal Reports, which each state, “include a signed certification in accordance with Standards Rule 8-3.”

The ISA Appraisal Report Writing Standards states that “the appraisal must contain the appraiser’s signature plus the signatures of non-dissenting collaborating appraisers, if any.” See Lesson 17-4 in your Core Course manual, revised April 2016 edition. Thus, USPAP requires the certification statement be signed, and ISA requires that the appraisal report be signed. Thus, “where do you sign your appraisal report?” becomes a really good question.

The answer is one of two ways:
  1. Include the certification statement in the Cover document of your appraisal report as a separate page with its own signature. Then you can continue writing and sign the report again.
  2. Include the certification statement at the very end of the Cover document and sign immediately thereafter, so that you have a signed certification. There is no need to sign the report again.

The key point to remember is that you cannot have other text after the certification and then sign the Cover document. You need to be sure to sign the certification statement. With this information in mind, most appraisers choose option 2, as it kills two birds with one stone by allowing them to sign the appraisal once, right after the certification statement.

And let’s not forget that USPAP also specifies in Standards Rule 8-3 that “An appraiser who signs any part of the appraisal report, including a letter of transmittal, must also sign this certification.” As such, anyone signing the report must also sign the certification statement, whether that is in one place or two places in the Cover document.

As the requests for charitable donation and other types of appraisals are likely to increase as we near the year’s end, now is a great time to review your appraisal formats to make sure you are signing your appraisal report in the right place.

For questions and/or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

California, Here We Come!

I am delighted to invite you to my home state of California, March 9-12, for the International Society of Appraisers’ annual conference: Assets 2018 - The Gold Standard: Innovation & Valuation.

California’s mild climate and bountiful landscape are as appealing as the full slate of exceptional educational opportunities being offered. With in-depth and hands-on presentations, Assets 2018 is designed to both enrich and strengthen our professional appraisal practices.

K2 Intelligence’s Senior Manager, Jordan Arnold will share innovative technology and advancing new standards related to authenticity and provenance; Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Decorative Arts and Design Assistant Curator, Staci Steinberger will explore innovative California design from missions to Modernism; Heritage Auctions’ Director Holly Sherratt will discuss Post-War and Contemporary Fine Art trends; and Brooke Sivo, Bonham’s Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts will provide an analysis of good, better and best examples in American furniture and silver.

Do not miss Ansel Adams Gallery Director of Photography Sales, Brittany Moorefield’s good, better and best discussion, Bruce Orr’s talk on studio glass, Tim Luke’s expertise on Street art and Rosalie Sayyah, aka Antique Roadshow’s Rhinestone Rosie’s guidance on costume jewelry. These are only a few among many other worthwhile presentations scheduled for conference.

Consider signing up early for a one-day Advanced Appraisal Methodology Course. This fresh and compelling new class is being prepared and presented by ISA’s Director of Education, Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP and ISA’s Core Course Instructor, Kirsten Smolensky, JD, ISA CAPP with focus on relevant personal property case studies. And while in California, you may also wish to enroll in ISA’s onsite 7-hour USPAP Class and/or our two-day onsite Requalification Course, both available immediately following conference.

Gardens at the Huntington Library

Customized tours include exploration of one of the world’s great cultural, research and educational centers, The Huntington Library, Collections and Botanical Gardens. Tour the Gamble House, an outstanding example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture with house and furnishings designed by architects Charles and Henry Green; or see the acclaimed exhibit: Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor at the Norton Simon Museum, an institution known for its encompassing collections of 19th and 20th century art.

I know you will enjoy the quintessential California style and surroundings in Pasadena at the Westin, near stunning gardens, first-class art and historic architecture. Pasadena is within proximity of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood; and not too far from the beach communities of Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu. It is a perfect venue to network with fellow colleagues, friends both old and new, as well as industry experts.

Please take a moment to look at ISA’s comprehensive Assets 2018 program and to register early for savings.

Looking forward to seeing you in California. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses!

-  Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP, Vice President of ISA

Monday, October 2, 2017

What's This Print Worth?

Daniel W. Deyell, ISA, MA, MTS
Inevitably, art appraisers get the email or text message: “I have this art work on paper; what’s it worth?” Just about as inevitably, I have to say, “the value of the frame!” I may be exaggerating, but potential clients can have trouble discerning original works of art from reproductions, and may not understand that reproductions tend to be worth far less than the original.

As an appraiser, it helps to understand the basic processes of printmaking in order to determine whether the item you’re appraising is a reproduction or not. In this post, I will describe the main techniques and touch on some important developments in the world of printmaking so you’ll have a better understanding next time you see one of these items.

What Is a Print?

The original print is an image that has been conceived by the artist as a print. It is produced as a print, not as a drawing, painting, or three-dimensional work. Each print is considered an original; no one print or drawing or painting is considered the original prototype from which other prints are made. The size of the edition, or the number of prints produced, is decided by the artist and the prints (after a small number of artist’s proofs) are numbered sequentially. Subsequent production of any prints or print editions should be differentiated by “states” of the prints and suffer corresponding depreciation of value.

Note: the blanket statement, “[just] the value of the frame,” may not be always accurate for reproductions if they gain value outside the field of art (as a recent auction of movie posters demonstrated), but if the appraiser’s focus is works of art rather than collectibles, reproductions are substantially less important than any object directly created by an artist. Additionally, some prints by artists (think Paul Gauguin's monoprints or works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec) may be of significant value. Appraisers are encouraged to do research and approach the topic of prints with care when assigning value to an item.

Printmaking Processes

While the field of printmaking and multiples today has become muddier as contemporary artists explore techniques of photo-mechanical processes for their own art creation, it’s important for appraisers to get acquainted with the classical processes of creating multiple art images first, before venturing into contemporary artistic multiples processing.

Printmaking processes
(courtesy of the Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center)

Classic methods of processing multiples (like etchings, engravings, relief prints, lithography, and serigraphy) and even contemporary processes (like some giclée prints) result in works of art because the artists intentionally use those processes to create individual works of art unique to the medium. The fact that a work is created in multiple numbers of prints or sculptures is a result of the artist’s intention, not a result of the efficiency of the process.

Based on this criteria, an artist who employs offset lithography or giclée printing to reproduce the image of a painting does not create a new work of art; if an appraiser can reference a framed picture back to an identical painted picture, the subject of investigation is a reproduction and deserves the evaluation, “only the value of the frame!”

The traditional forms of printmaking include:
  • Intaglio (also known as “gravure” to commercial printers). Includes etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint, and mezzotint. Images are created on a metal or plastic plate by direct incisions, or by using acid to incise lines or pits into the plates. These incisions or pits are filled with ink, which is then transferred to a medium such as paper to produce an image.
  • Relief. Includes wood block, lino cut, and stonecut. In relief printmaking, material is removed from a base of wood, linoleum, stone, or even potato to leave a relief that is then inked and pressed against a medium such as paper to produce an image.

    Relief carving for stone cut print

  • Planographic. Includes lithograph, serigraph (aka silkscreen), and stencil. Lithographic stones or metal plates are prepared to receive oily or greasy drawings which adhere ink to the drawings, and are then transferred to a medium such as paper to produce an image. Stencils can be created using a variety of media, and are sometimes attached to screens (now usually fine nylon screens), through which ink is pressed with a squeegee onto a medium like paper to produce an image. Planographic printmaking usually does not include offset (or photo) litho, inkjet, or giclée, although some conceptual artists have deliberately used those processes for creating multiples.
Pulling an image from a lithograph stone

Printmaking through History

Prints from the 14th and 15th centuries to the early modern era were not usually numbered. They may carry the names of the printer as well as the artist in the image.

Since the early 20th century, traditional prints have usually included signatures in pencil with notations of print number out of (/) a numbered edition. Signatures however, do not guarantee authenticity of a traditional process, nor do they guarantee a limit on the number of works in an addition or numbers of editions or states. (For instance, a very well-known twentieth century artist issued editions of 5000 silkscreens each for a number of regions of North America and Europe). Any work containing a signature added (in pencil or pen, for instance) to an image that already has a painted signature is more than likely a reproduction.

Passing ink through a screen with a squeegee

In the past few decades, a number of artists have begun to explore computer-generated art, including digital printing with processes like giclée (which confusingly is more often a popular process to produce high-quality reproductions). Photography, which also can result in multiple images, is considered a completely separate field of artistic process.

What to Remember About Printmaking

The differentiation of original works of art as multiples from reproductions occurs when the artist is directly involved to some degree in the creation of the works of art. If the work being examined is directly the result of the creative process, it is an original print.

If the work is a copy of an image created at another time, in another size, in a different medium whether by the artist or not, whether signed (again) or not, it has been produced to be marketed more broadly without further artistic contribution and it is a reproduction.
Artist wiping an etching plate with ink

Daniel Deyell is a member of the International Society of Appraisers, He has twenty years’ experience in the field of fine arts and earned degrees in art and art history from University of Regina and University of British Columbia supplemented with professional museum and arts management certificates from Banff Centre and American Law Institute/American Bar Association. He has worked with public art galleries across Western Canada, including Mackenzie Art Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery, Glenbow, Alberta College of Art Gallery, Muttart Art Gallery, Penticton Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery and International Museum of Cultures in Dallas in varying roles from preparatory to curatorial to managerial. At the Mendel, he prepared condition reports and digitized the catalogued collection of 4,400 objects for inclusion in a museum collection database.

Recommended Reading:
Glossary of commonly-used terms related to printmaking

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