Quilt Appraisals

Choosing an Appraiser
To obtain a valid appraisal, an appraiser must be considered knowledgeable in the field of quilt appraising. General property appraisers may not know specifically about quilts and their values. Appraisers must also be a disinterested party regarding your property. This means they can have no financial interest, or gain from the item.

Some appraisers are also quilt dealers and/or quilt collectors. If you are planning to sell your quilt, they may be interested in purchasing it from you. If this is the case, it is unethical for that appraiser to appraise your quilt and then offer to purchase it. It would be wise to seek another appraiser to perform the appraisal for you. This will ensure that a fair price and sale has taken place.

In 1988, the 
American Quilter’s Society began an education and certification program specifically for the appraising quilted textiles. This widely respected program has strict ethical guidelines as well as education and networking opportunities for their certified appraisers.

AQS appraisers follow the standards set forth by the American Quilter’s Society – Appraisal Program.  There are currently over 90 AQS Certified Appraisers of Quilted Textiles. The advantages of hiring an AQS appraiser are:
  • They have been tested and approved by the AQS Appraisal Certification Committee.  Their appraisal practices are reviewed every 3 years for re-certification.
  • They specialize in quilted textiles and have been thoroughly tested on their knowledge of fabrics, dates, construction techniques, the ability to recognize patterns and regional influences, and on their awareness of values of quilts and related textiles in their geographic area.
  • They are held to strict standards of procedure and ethics
  • Any complaints about the practice of an AQS certified appraiser may be submitted in writing to the AQS Appraisal Certification Committee for review.
While there are other knowledgeable quilt appraisers in the U.S., some have not been tested and are not accountable to any appraisal program. Your insurance company may not accept their appraisals for an insurance claim. When searching for a quilt appraiser, always ask for a list of qualifications and affiliations.

To locate an AQS Certified Appraiser near you, contact:

The American Quilter’s Society
Appraisal Certification Program
P.O. Box 3290
Paducah, KY 42002-3290
(270) 898-7903
(Their website link is listed on the bottom of my homepage.)

For professional results, use a professional appraiser. Do not confuse quilt appraisers with quilt historians, quilt dealers, or antique dealers – they are different.

Members of the group pay annual dues and have agreed to a Code of Ethical Practices which has been developed by PAAQT. There are currently over 90 members in PAAQT. Most live in the U.S. however there are also members who live in Canada.

For more information about PAAQT, quilt appraisals and a listing of their current members and contact information (listed by state and country), visit the PAAQT website (Their website link is on the bottom of my home page.)

Quilts & Their Values
Handmade quilts are wonderful to see and even better to own. A quilt may have been made by your Grandmother, given to you as a wedding present, or purchased during a special vacation. As an appraiser, I see family quilts hanging proudly in homes and the stories about them and their makers are eagerly shared. These quilts have sentimental value. Memories are priceless and no amount of money can ever replace these special quilts.

A quilt purchased at an antique store, yard sale, flea market or auction may also be special to you. That quilt (with no family to care for it) once caught your eye and you decided to “adopt” it. These quilts are often used for decorative purposes and have decorative value.

Old quilts have historical value. They are from a time in the past – reflections of another era in history. While not every quilt will someday end up in a museum, each one can give us clues about the historical era in which they were made. A price tag can never be placed on historic value. Once these quilts are lost or destroyed, they can only be replaced with quilts that are similar in age and style.

The quilts you have personally made are also special. You may have spent hours picking out just the right fabrics and many more hours making these quilts. They may have been made for a special occasion or person you love. These quilts have personal value for you. They are the quilts that will someday tell your descendants something about you and the life you lived.

Quilts have a value whether they are family heirlooms, purchased in an antique store or ones you have recently made. This value is called financial value.

Experienced quilt appraisers help to determine the financial value of quilts. These values are based upon what it will cost to replace an antique or vintage quilt with one that is similar in like and kind. Age, size, colors, fabrics, condition, style, uniqueness, workmanship and provenance (the history of the quilt) are all considered when determining replacement value for an antique or vintage quilt.

Quilts that have been recently made are called contemporary quilts. The same (or similar) fabrics they were made from are still available.  These quilts can be replaced by reproducing them with similar colors, fabrics, patterns and workmanship.

When a replacement quilt is made for a contemporary quilt, the appraised value is called a reproduction value.  If a similar quilt can be found and purchased on the open market, that appraisal value is called a replacement value.  This value is often less than the reproduction value.  Both methods for replacing a quilt are accepted by insurance companies however they prefer reimbursing a replacement value because it is less money.

As with all quilt losses, your original quilt will be gone. You can, however, have another quilt made that is very similar in color, pattern and style.  As with antique quilts, the provenance of the quilt is important. The fame of the maker, publications and awards are also considered in the appraisal value.

Written Appraisals
A written appraisal is a statement of opinion of the appraised value for a specific item. Appraisals are written for real estate as well as for personal property. Like all personal property, quilted textiles can be appraised to determine and document their value. For insurance purposes, a written appraisal is needed as proof of the appraiser’s expert opinion concerning the value of your quilt. For an accurate appraisal, the appraiser must see and examine the item.  Appraising from a photo is not a good or accurate practice.

Appraisals for quilted textiles can be written for:
  • antique quilts (made before 1900) 
  • Vintage quilts (made between 1900 and 1975)
  • Contemporary quilts (made since 1975)
  • Wearable art (quilted clothing) and decorative items that are quilted

A written appraisal included:
  • The name and contact information of the owner
  • The name and pattern of the textile
  • A brief description of the textile 
  • The name of the maker, quilter and location made
  • information about the item’s age, size, colors, fabrics, techniques and workmanship
  • The current condition of the quilt
  • The provenance (history) of the quilt
  • The purpose of the appraisal, market conditions and the approach used for determining the value
  • The appraised value (not a range)
  • The signature and qualifications of the appraiser
Due to often-changing markets and economy, fashion and design trends and popularity, and the delicate condition of textile items, quilt values change. An appraisal does not represent any past or future value of the item, but only current worth of the item on the date of the appraisal.

Types of Appraisals for Textiles
Appraisals differ based upon their intended purpose.  There are three basic types of appraisals that can be written for quilted textiles:
  • Fair Market Appraisals 
  • Donation, Gift or Estate Appraisals 
  • Insurance Appraisals
The stated appraisal value of your textile may differ depending upon the purpose of the appraisal. For example, a photo transfer quilt with pictures of your family may not be a quilt that others would jump at the chance to purchase. It would not, therefore, appraise high for fair market purposes. It would, however, appraise higher for insurance purposes based upon the cost to replace the quilt with one of like and kind.

It is highly unethical and illegal for an appraiser to inflate the value of an item on any appraisal. Inflated values are considered fraud. If necessary, the stated value set by an appraiser must be able to be substantiated in a court of law. The appraiser must be able to defend how they arrived at the appraised value, based on facts and comparable data.

Fair Market Appraisals
Fair market appraisals help to determine the fair market value of an item. These appraisals are generally sought after when a quilt owner wishes to sell a quilt. When establishing a fair market value for a quilt, the appraiser determines what a “willing buyer” may pay a “willing seller” for the item. In establishing this value, the appraiser assumes that both the buyer and the seller would have equal knowledge concerning the item. It must also be assumed that the item would be sold under normal conditions and that neither party could be under pressure to buy or sell the item.

A good quilt appraiser will be aware of current market trends regarding the sale of quilts. Quilt appraisers frequently check auction houses, antique stores, Internet quilt sites and galleries for quilt prices and sales. Appraisers use this data to find quilts similar to the quilt you want to sell. These values fluctuate with changing trends and popularity, the economy and geographic areas of the country.

It should be understood that a fair market value placed upon an item does not guarantee you will realize that value in a sale. The value is an opinion, based upon the facts of asking and selling prices of other similar quilts. If you sell your quilt to an antique dealer or store, they will not want to pay the fair market appraised value.  They want to purchase quilts and sell them at a profit.  When selling a quilt at a regular or Internet auction (e.g. Ebay), you may realize much more (or much less) than the fair market value.  It will depend who is bidding that day.

Donation, Gift, & Estate Appraisals
Donation appraisals provide written documentation of a quilt’s value as required by the IRS. When donating a quilt to a museum, church, or favorite charity, depending on the value, you may need a donation appraisal for tax-deduction purposes. Currently, the IRS requires these appraisals to be conducted prior to and within 60 days of the donation. In the cases of large donations, the appraiser is required to sign the IRS donation form.

Depending on the value of the item, gift or inheritance income may also require an appraisal for IRS purposes. You should always check with a tax expert or the IRS concerning the current laws regarding income and donation deductions from quilts.

Estate appraisals help families determine equitable divisions of property among family members, specifically in wills and trusts. These appraisals are also used for dividing property in divorce settlements. Written appraisals help to inform your heirs of the value of your quilts. By knowing the value of your quilts, they may not be so quick to sell your quilts for a low price. They might even decide to keep and cherish them as much as you do!

Insurance Appraisals
Insurance appraisals are the most common appraisals written for quilts and related textiles. These appraisals help to determine the replacement value of a quilt. Insurance companies financially compensate you for your loss – if you have properly insured the item and have a written appraisal to prove the item’s worth.

Quilts can be stolen, damaged or destroyed. Home fires can either destroy quilts or cause severe smoke damage to them. Water damage from a leaky pipe can also severely damage a quilt. Each year, many homes (and quilts) are lost to earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other deadly storms.

With the increased popularity and values of quilts, many home thefts are now including quilts. These quilts are later sold to antique stores or galleries. There is an internet site called Lost Quilts Come Home.  You can post information about lost or stolen quilts on that site.
 The site then alerts all that sign up for their alerts (quilters, appraisers,dealers etc.) about recent lost and stolen quilts.  The link to that site is on the links page of this website.

Some burglars may not be interested in the quilts themselves but will use them to quickly wrap and carry other items they are stealing. Unfortunately, these quilts are often tossed by the thief after they have served their purpose.

Insurance on personal property is included in your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Personal property insurance usually only covers your property when it is your home or in your possession. Usually if a quilt is stolen from your car, it is your homeowner’s policy that will cover the loss, not your car insurance. If it is stolen at a quilt show or in shipping, it is not covered by your homeowner’s policy because it is out of your possession. Special insurance policies are taken out by the sponsors of a quilt show.

The insurance replacement value is determined by what it will cost to replace the quilt with one of “like and kind.” Quilts and other unique or antique items require an appraiser to determine their value. If you own antique quilts or valuable quilts, without an appraisal, normally an adjuster will not allow for compensation beyond the cost of normal bedding or blankets.

Most insurance companies require written appraisals to “schedule” quilts on a homeowner’s policy or to purchase additional “fine arts” coverage for very expensive quilts or a collection of quilts. If you use your quilts for business purposes, you may need to purchase additional business coverage. You should consult with your insurance agent to determine if you have adequate coverage. Request all information about the coverage of your quilts in writing. Here are specific questions you should ask your agent:
Appraisers perform quilt appraisals in a variety of settings. They will often come to your home to appraise your quilts. You may also find them conducting appraisal days at quilt shops, museums, quilt shows and other quilt-related events.

Some Important Insurance Questions: 
  • Can my quilts be covered under my homeowner’s policy or do I need to purchase additional coverage such as a fine arts rider?
  • In case of a loss, does my insurance provide 100% replacement value for the item?  What is the deductible on my policy?
  • Is my written appraisal acceptable for proof of the value?  Would the company like a copy of the appraisal for my insurance file?
  • I teach quilt making but keep my quilts in my home.  Do I need business insurance on my quilts or are they covered by my homeowner’s policy?
If you were to loan your quilt to another person or group for the purpose of displaying your quilt, normally there is no coverage for your quilt under your personal insurance. Most quilt shows will carry a minimal amount of insurance for the quilts on display. If you want additional insurance for your quilt, they often require a written appraisal to prove the value of your quilt to their insurance company.

When shipping quilts, they can easily be lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. A homeowner’s policy generally does not cover your property during shipping. You must purchase shipping insurance directly from the shipping company or postal service. They too will require a written appraisal for your quilt if its value is higher than their minimum allowance.

Special Quilt Insurance: I do know of a special policy that you can purchase to cover your quilts while they are in your home, while they are being shipped and while they are on display at a quilt show. The policy will cover antique quilts, new quilts and the contents of your sewing room.  You will need an appraisal or record of sales as your proof for a claim for a quilt loss. The policy is written through the Hartford Insurance.  Here's the contact information of the agent who writes this policy:

The Hartford Company
Chris Johnston, Agent

Taking Care of Your Appraisal
An appraisal is hand written or typed in duplicate. Generally, you receive the original copy and the appraisal keeps a copy in their file for reference. The appraiser usually takes photos of your quilt for their files and to put photos directly on the appraisal. These photos and the appraisal may be needed to identify your quilt in case it is lost or stolen.

The appraisal contains information about your private property; therefore the information contained in the appraisal must be kept in confidence by the appraiser. Legally, the appraiser cannot disclose information about your appraisal or the quilt’s value without your permission. The exception would be a request by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.  Likewise, you are not allowed to publicly post the appraisal or use the appraiser's name when selling a quilt.

The appraiser may need to consult with other professional appraisers to help determine an appraisal value for your quilt. They may also want to use general information about your quilt for professional purposes (e.g. comparing quilts and their values or writing research papers). There should not be a need for them to disclose your name in conjunction with the quilt in these cases. Regardless, they should request your permission prior to using or sharing information about your quilt.

As a general rule, under current markets, appraisals are accurate for up to five years. It is a good practice to contact the appraiser and update your appraisals every five years, particularly for insurance purposes. As with the original appraisal, there is a fee for updated appraisals. Keep your appraisal in a safe place, separate from your quilt. Most quilt owners keep their appraisals in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box with other important papers. If your quilt is stolen or destroyed, you will need the appraisal as proof of value. Most appraisers keep copies of appraisals they have performed for five years.

No changes may be made to any item on the appraisal by anyone other than the appraiser. Other important information about the quilt should be kept with the appraisal. Awards, photos of the quilt, information about the quilt’s maker, purchase receipts and other historical information are valuable and should be kept accordingly.

Appraisals are only valid for use by the owner listed on the appraisal. If you were to sell or give your quilt to someone else, the appraisal becomes invalid. The new owner should consult the appraiser for a new and updated appraisal, made out in their name.

Appraisal Fees

2021 Appraisal Services and Fees
Kathy became an AQS Certified Appraiser of Quilted Textiles in 2001. She is experienced in appraising antique, vintage and new quilts as well as wearable art. Typed appraisals include a description of the quilt, its condition, history, appraised value and photo of the quilt. Verbal consultations are for quilt dating and suggestions for care and repair. A verbal consultation is $30 and does not include a written appraisal or quilt value. Appraisal days are sponsored by guilds, shops, shows or museums. Quilts may be brought in or hanging in a show. Each appraisal appointment takes 30 minutes.  The typed appraisals are mailed within 2 weeks of the appraisal appointment.  It includes 4 color photos of the quilt.  Suggested advertising and an appointment schedule is included with a contract.

Fee:  Written Appraisals – $55/quilt
          Verbal Consultations – $30/quilt
And upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

 Matthew 13:46