Appraisals

We are unable to provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials offered as gifts, brought in for identification, or submitted for any other purpose.

The United States Internal Revenue Service regards libraries and museums as interested parties and appraisals prepared by them for gifts that they receive are subject to question. This is because some libraries and museums in the past were tempted to compete for gifts by providing high appraisals. Consequently, the Association of College and Research Libraries recommends that "to protect both its donors and itself, the library, as an interested party, ordinarily should not appraise gifts made to it." Most libraries and museums now follow policies on appraisals similar to ours.

When an appraisal is used for tax or insurance purposes, an appraiser must be prepared to defend his appraisal in court. This requires an expert knowledge of prices. We are not in the business of buying or selling on a daily basis, so we cannot provide current market information as appraisers can. Furthermore, appraisers often have much more extensive collections of price guides and related bibliographies than can be found in most libraries.

Similar considerations apply when appraisals are requested for reasons not connected with gifts and tax deductions. Accurate establishment of prices can be a complex procedure, requiring a time-consuming search in auction records and price guides that we are unable to undertake.

Professional appraisers in your area can be located by checking the telephone directory under headings such as "Appraisers," "Books - Rare & Used," and "Antiques - Dealers." Other sources are the web sites of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of AmericaThe Appraisers Association of America, Inc., and the American Society of Appraisers.

You should expect to pay an appraisal fee unless materials are subsequently purchased by the appraiser. For income tax purposes, fees paid for the appraisal of materials donated to a qualifying charitable institution such as a library or museum are deductible within the limits established by law.