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Volume 15, Issue 1

Page 3

River Trading Post

314 N. River Street

Dundee, Illinois 60118

847-426-6901

7033 E. Main Street, 102

Scottsdale, Arizona 85251

480-444-0001

www.rivertradingpost.com

Going on 17 years now,

River Trading Post has become

renowned for its diverse collection

of American Indian art, and as the

friendliest place around for explor-

ing and buying American Indian

art.

Browse our galleries, visit our web-

site, and we believe you will find a

treasure with your name on it.

B

RINGING

Y

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T

HE

F

INEST

A

MERICAN

I

NDIAN

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F

OR

18 Y

EARS

.

R

IVER

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OST

Scottsdale

Dundee

We recommend three steps for you to

take in determining the value of your

American Indian treasures.

First things first.

Before you start, do you know what

you have? Many people come to us

telling us that the Raku pot that they

inherited is by Maria Martinez, or

that the Pakistani basket they have is

a Hopi basket from 1935. Some of

this is family lore, and some of it is

faulty research. If you’re not sure

what you have, find out before you

try to evaluate it.

Then, do your own Internet research.

Google is pretty good at helping you

do this. Start by collecting any infor-

mation you have on the item includ-

ing the artist’s name, the original cost,

the dimensions and the condition.

Your first search should be on the

artist’s name. If there is no search

result for the artist, chances are you

are going to have trouble with this

method. That is because there is no

market value established for the artist.

Even then not all is lost. Do a second

search.

Your second search, is generally on

the item itself, such as Navajo weav-

ings or turtle shell rattle, or any other

specifics about the item you are re-

searching. Make sure you know the

difference between a hand-coiled pot

and a green-ware pot, and a tapestry

weave and a pound rug. These kind of

specifics create wide variations in

prices and will give you bad infor-

mation if you simply Google “Pueblo

pottery” or “Navajo rug” and look at

the first thing that comes up.

Compare the prices you found during

your search to the price that you paid

for the item. This will give you a ball-

park estimate of the value of your

item. Be sure to take into account the

size and condition of items in your

search results relative to the size and

condition of your own item to ensure

that you are looking at comparable

pieces. This should do the trick. But if

not, continue on.

An Evaluation.

An Evaluation (or valu-

ation study) is the most basic and least

expensive way to get an independent

determination of the current market

value of an item. If you are not donat-

ing the item or if you do not need a

formal appraisal for insurance purpos-

es, then this is most likely only thing

you will need.

An evaluation is performed by a

knowledgeable person such as a gal-

lery owner, and is suitable for suggest-

ing a retail price, determining whether

insurance values should be altered,

and in getting an initial "read" on the

authenticity of an artwork.

But it will

NOT suffice for substantiating values on

donations of artworks to non-profit organi-

zations nor for making insurance claims.

There is often an nominal fee for a

written evaluation, but if all you need

is some verbal information, many

places will offer the basics without

charge. If you are trying to sell the

item, make sure you get at least two

valuations prior to accepting an offer.

An Appraisal.

Kicking it up a notch, the

next level of price determination is a

formal appraisal. This is done by a

Certified Appraiser. Make sure you

use one that specializes in American

Indian Art and is fully accredited.

This is a more complex and therefore

more expensive procedure than an

evaluation. It is important to have a

formal appraisal if you are donating

the work or if you are insuring an

item worth a substantial amount.

The appraiser will want to see the

item in person, and ask to review all

available documentation including

provenance, sales receipts, and prior

appraisals. Typically, the base price

for such an appraisal is $150-$200.

HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH? A DO IT YOURSELF APPROACH.