Appraisal Basics – Using Authenticators and Specialists

Appraisers, Authenticators, and Specialists – Oh My!

At WorthWise Art and Antiques Appraisers, we conduct rigorous due diligence to ensure our appraisals are thorough, relevant, and accurate. That means properly identifying your items and their most relevant value characteristics, researching the markets in which they are most commonly traded, and compiling and analyzing comparable items before making our value conclusions. And, on occasion, it means using authenticators and specialists to obtain a deeper level of knowledge before completing our appraisal assignments.

We will always let you know if we believe your appraisal project will benefit from using authenticators and specialists before bringing them on board. We will work with you to find the most appropriate ones for your particular needs, and will coordinate their participation in the project for you.

But, what roles do authenticators and specialists play in participating in an appraisal? And how are they different from appraisers?


The job of a professional authenticator is to determine and verify that an item of personal property is genuine or has an undisputed origin. They do this based on the scholarly application of past and present knowledge of the item’s identifying characteristics compared to those of a like kind. They conduct extensive research into an item’s acquisition history and may incorporate state-of-the-art laboratory analyses on the materials used such as mass spectrometry or infrared reflectology. If the item is found to be genuine, they will provide it with a certificate of authenticity.

Using the services of an authenticator is sometimes necessary for items that are commonly faked, are of a very high value, or where an authentication would have a dramatic impact on the item’s appraised value.


A specialist is any kind of advisor to the appraisal process who can help to identify (but, not necessarily authenticate!) and evaluate a unique item in your collection. They may be highly specialized appraisers, or they may be conservators, interpreters, signature analysts, authors, professors, museum curators, customs attorneys, cultural artifact experts, or stolen art investigators. Or they may be subject matter experts such as gemologists, firearms specialists, farm equipment valuation experts, or coin graders.

Appraisers often have speciality areas, and may be considered to be experts in their particular field of interest. Rarely, though, are appraisers ever trained and qualified authenticators. Similarly, authenticators are rarely trained and qualified appraisers. They bring unique and important skill sets to the appraisal process, though, when the situation calls for it.

Using authenticators and specialists, while often very valuable, can add significant costs to the appraisal assignment. If we believe that the appraisal of your item warrants the additional services of such a person, we always consult with you before doing so. We then select the most appropriate person for your appraisal assignment and manage their activities as part of our commitment to providing you with quality, timely, and cost-effective customer care.

“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.“

~ Edward Hopper


“Certificates of Authenticity” can sometimes be quite helpful and legitimate sources in verifying the identify or authenticity of an item. Too often, though, they are used to make false, inappropriate or intentionally confusing claims!