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Quilts Have Value


Published: 06/03/2011

by Rosalie I. Tennison, PAAQT


What was once considered a utilitarian household item is now in the realm of fine art in some circles. Collectors seek the finest examples of quilts that were made to keep families warm. Even though most makers created a “best” quilt to be used for special company or to be given as a gift, the vast majority of quilts were made to be used. This is why the quilts in the best condition and with the most interesting design and quilting motifs can command a high price at auction or in antiques shops.

Today’s quiltmakers are no different. We make quilts for gifts and we make quilts to use. The tools we use are different and we have the luxury of the availability of fabric designed specifically for quilting. As well, many of us have enough disposable income to buy new fabric for quilts instead of using the remains from garment construction or the best sections of worn clothes.

The artistic and creative qualities of quilts make them as desirable and difficult to replace as any other unique hand crafted item, such as hooked rugs. Insurance companies and quilt owners are beginning to recognize that quilts have value and that they cannot be replaced, in most cases, by visiting a local department store.

Get an appraisal
The only way to ensure you are compensated if your quilted item is lost or damaged is to get an appraisal from a certified, accredited appraiser who specializes in valuing quilted items. Members of the Professional Association of Appraisers - Quilted Textiles (PAAQT) can be found in most areas of Canada and the United States and they can provide a valuation document that is accepted by insurance companies and the law profession when a quilt or quilted item needs to be identified or replaced.

An appraisal contains a legal description of the quilted item and places a value on it that will ensure you will be compensated fairly if something happens to it. While we might think your quilts are not worth appraising, a quick calculation of the cost of the materials will indicate that whatever amount your insurance company will pay out if your quilt is lost or damaged will not cover the costs of those materials. Certified appraisers consider much more than the cost of materials and they have an understanding of the marketplace and where similar quilts can be sourced. A qualified appraiser offers an unbiased opinion of value along with documentation to support the value conclusion whether it be cost to reproduce or comparable sales.

Other reasons for an appraisal
There are many other reasons to have a quilt appraised and PAAQT members can help quilt owners decide which best suits their needs. Besides securing insurance coverage, appraisals can be provided when a quilt is being donated to an institution that will supply a receipt for the value for taxation purposes. An appraisal may be needed to settle an estate when there is a dispute over the value upon the death of the owner or a value may be needed in the event of a divorce settlement.

hen you are shipping a quilt as a gift or because it has been accepted into a quilt show, an appraisal will provide proof of value for show insurance or in the event the quilt is lost during shipping. Finally, you may wish to sell a quilt and a certified quilt appraiser can assist in determining market value for your quilt.

Beyond value
PAAQT members are also available to speak to guilds on many topics from the basics of having quilts appraised to how to care for quilts and the history of quilt making. Many appraisers are authors of books on quilting and fabric history, some are award winning quilters, while others are experts at restoration. Appraisers have extensive knowledge of quilting techniques, historical context, fabric, and societal influences. When you get a quilt appraised, you are getting more than just a value. You may learn that a treasured family heirloom was not made by grandma, but by her mother because of the fabrics used in the quilt. You will also learn how to properly store and care for that heirloom.

When engaging the services of an appraiser, ensure they have completed specialized education in appraising and that they belong to an organization, such as PAAQT, that certifies or regulates the profession. Appraisers who have been tested and certified will adhere to a code of ethics which protects quilt owners if there is a dispute. Appraisers also act as expert witnesses in the event a quilt owner needs support in a legal action.

To find a quilt appraiser in Canada or the United States or to learn more about the profession of quilt appraising or to better understand why you should have your quilts appraised, visit the PAAQT website at www.quiltappraisers.org. At this site you can search for appraisers in your area and connect with knowledgeable experts in many aspects of quilting. As well, some PAAQT members can provide appraisals in English or French, please visit www.quiltappraisers.org to find a bilingual appraiser near you.

Aussi, quelques membres de PAAQT ( Association des Évaluateurs Professionnels de Textiles Piqués ) peuvent performer des évaluations autant en anglais qu'en français. S.V.P. visitez www.quiltappraisers.org pour trouver un évaluateur/une évaluatrice bilingue près de chez vous.

(All photos used by permission)