Going, going, gone

Auction sale of antiques and collectibles can be an excellent strategy to provide for the financial challenges of retirement and caregiving needs.

The time comes for all of us to think about the future of a lifetime’s accumulation of possessions. We hope that the senior members of your family have made (and written down) their decisions about heirlooms to be passed on to specific individuals — great-grandfather’s gold watch, the wedding present Tiffany lamp and so on.

There may also be items of value and interest and even sizable specialized collections that relatives can’t integrate into their own homes. Maybe you have inherited or acquired antiques and collectibles that you want to liquidate. Perhaps the accumulated value in these belongings might be best used in providing for retirement or future caregiving needs. 

Whatever the reason, when it’s time to move on, literally and/or figuratively, it’s in everyone’s best interests to get a knowledgeable, objective opinion of the monetary value of personal property. A carefully selected auction house can provide accurate, up-to-the-minute valuation and help unlock that value through the auction process. 

Skinner Inc. — a Boston-based full-service auction house with several regional East Coast offices (including one in White Plains) and an international following — has decades of experience in helping clients to maximize the financial potential of their treasures.

It’s easy to start with a free online evaluation of a few items that you believe may have exceptional value. There are complete instructions and helpful tips about the process at skinnerinc.com. Click on “Selling” at the top of the home page. Skinner’s website also has information about regularly scheduled virtual and in-person valuation days. These take place by appointment at convenient locations in New York, Massachusetts, Maine and Florida. One will be held in Westchester County on Wednesday, November 17.

In either case, you will get an expert verbal estimate of auction value. This is not an appraisal, which is not necessary for auction purposes. (A formal appraisal is a written report usually required only for insurance, tax or estate planning.) You’ll also be notified if your items(s) have sufficient value and are a suitable fit for an upcoming auction.

If a large collection or an entire estate is involved, an in-depth expert valuation is in order. At Skinner, this involves a home visit by one or more specialists. The process begins with an email or call to me as Skinner’s New York regional director. The more information you can provide about the property in question (estimated age, provenance, names of artists or makers, bills of sale and other documents, etc.), the better you can be matched with an appraiser or appraisers who have extensive experience assessing the type of material you own. 

Eldercare is an increasingly important issue, both for seniors and their families. There are many excellent options, but the costs can be high. One way to meet those costs is to unlock the value of possessions that no longer meet present needs and, by doing so, provide for future ones. For many kinds of personal property, auction can provide a safe, dignified and profitable path forward.  

As LaGina Austin, Skinner’s director of appraisals and auction services notes, both the auction house and the consignor have a shared goal — to achieve maximum value with minimum stress and uncertainty.

The prospect of parting with treasured possessions can provoke anxiety. It also presents exciting possibilities. The emphasis is on the latter at Skinner, with 20 specialty departments including the fine and decorative arts, jewelry, modern design, musical instruments, science and technology, wine and many others.

When the time comes to consider your own or a family members’ eldercare or downsizing requirements, you will want an auction partner that’s small enough to be attentive and responsive to client needs but large enough to attract attention and bidders in the global marketplace. At Skinner Inc. you will find answers to your questions. 

For more, contact Katie at kwhittle@skinnerinc.com or 212-787-1114.

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