personal property appraiser

"Value in Doubt? Find Out!"


 Call Novotny in Los Angeles area:  626-292-2224


General Personal Property Appraiser

in Los Angeles 

Demand Credibility and avoid appraiser incompetency.


Read an article published by Novotny that discusses in depth the USPAP competency and scope of work requirements that apply to general personal property appraisers who value many different types of antiques  and fine and decorative art and collectible objects as well as ordinary household goods. Competency and scope of work considerations particularly apply when the subject property cannot be inspected.

Expert Personal Property Online or Distant Appraisals in Los Angeles or Nationwide

Mechanical Iron Banks



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Specific Property Types Each Have Important Specific Characteristics


Collectibles: There are many types of collector categories such as dolls, military, music, sporting, ephemera, textiles, etc., and within each category are different objects: Barbie dolls, bisque dolls, firearms, swords, knives, rare records, music boxes, sports cards, comic books, autographs, posters, samplers, quilts and lace etc. 

Each collectible object type has unique condition, quality and value characteristics that informed buyers seek.  Knowledgeable sellers consider and evaluate these same characteristics during negotiations with potential buyers. These characteristics are important to identify. When describing a property: 

Identify the name of the property type, quantity, condition, age, cost and important characteristics 


Furniture: What is the typical name or the form it is called (type: e.g. table, chest, wing-back chair, tall case clock, etc)?  Is there a style that describes it, What is the age, What wood or material used? What finish or surface? In what country and what date was it created? Are there maker or manufacturer marks? What style? What special features (inlay, carvings, paint etc.). Describe the parts, the condition and dimensions. Need Help? Manufactured furniture after the mid 19th century are frequently doable with inspection with sufficient information.

Fine art: Describe medium (e.g. oil on canvas or type of print on paper), subject, artist, title, note exact signature, date, inscriptions, image size, labels or marks on the back of the work. Prints: type of print and edition size. Describe frames and overall size. Bronzes: height, artist, editions size, foundry marks, subject. (Many or most works of art are not appropriate for distant appraisal without inspection)

Clocks: type (mantle, wall, tall case, carriage, bracket, skeleton, etc.), maker, materials used, date created,  [figural clock, banjo clocks, iron clock,] dimensions, condition,  special characteristics (ormolu, movement, escapement type, dial features, winding holes, chimes, actions, apertures, decorations).

Silver: Type: (e.g. flatware service, tea and coffee service), object name, marks (e.g. hallmarks, sterling, .925, .800, electroplate), decoration (e.g. monogram, repousse, chased, hammered), date, maker, country of origin, Troy oz. weight, condition.


Books: State title, author, publisher, publication date and location, illustrator, editor, bindings, hard or soft bound, cloth or leather? What color? Dust jacket? Condition? Anything written? Any notations? When/where purchased, What date? Cost? Which edition and printing? 

Stamps: Novotny will not appraise stamps. If stamps are in an assignment with other objects, and the objects cannot be inspected, Novotny can probably value the stamps with the assistance of a stamp expert if the following information is provided. What are the Scott Catalog numbers? Mint stamp or mint sheet? What is quantity of each? Identify any rare or important examples.

Novotny's most cost effective option is a 20 minute oral appraisal at his home office or conducted with a telephone conference, or email report. Such online distant appraisal require payment in advance. 


Novotny will decline assignments that are inappropriate for distant or online appraisals. Novotny will also decline any assignment, and to appraise any property type, for which he lacks the necessary knowledge and experience. Some high value antiques, fine or decorative art objects are not appropriate for appraisal without an on-site inspection when objects

  • have quality characteristics that do not reveal well in a photograph, and 
  • that require the touch, feel and personal examination of appraisers 
  • that may require specialized tools or technical analysis

  • Some appraisal assignment types are not appropriate for distant or online appraisals such as
  • most IRS tax appraisals (thought the IRS routinely uses photographs for valuation review)
  • litigation support appraisal assignments when the property is available for inspection
  • most insurance assignments to obtain coverage 
  • when the subject property has geographical competency requirements, or
  • when there are local jurisdictional laws or regulations that apply to the assignment.


A brief, no cost, email or telephone consultation with Novotny can determine whether or not a distant appraisal would be appropriate or to arrange for an onsite appraisal. During such a consult the costs and procedures can be discussed. Contact Novotny now by Email 

The task of the client seeking appraisal services is to find the best appraiser that is a good fit for the client's intended use, objectives, priorities, budget, property types and report needs. It is not an easy task. In some areas of the country there are few appraisers that can meet those needs. Distant appraisals or online appraisals without inspection by Novotny, a highly competent personal property appraiser with 38 years of experience, is often the best solution in Los Angeles or nationwide.


Novotny travels throughout So. California charging a small hourly rate for the travel component. He has traveled throughout the USA to teach his appraisal classes or to provide appraisal services. There is a per diem fee and expenses for distant appraisals. Hiring Novotny may be your best option. Don't hesitate to call and discuss this option.


In 2008 William Novotny published an article in the Journal of Advanced Appraisal Studies entitled "Equivalent Sampling" which explores the significant issues regarding appraisals without an inspection. He explored appraisal theory issues and the USPAP requirements that apply when property is destroyed, stolen, lost or converted and cannot be inspected. He has specialized in such assignment types since 2008.


If an inspection is necessary Novotny will not accept a distant or online appraisal assignment, but is available make the inspection. It all depends on the intended use of the report, the needs of intended users and the relevant characteristics of the objects. Relevant object issues must be carefully considered along with intended use and the needs of intended users. Any uncertainty (e.g. limiting conditions) must be disclosed along with any necessary and appropriate assumptions. 


Some appraisal assignments can be conducted using digital photographs and careful communication between the appraiser and the client. For instance: The objects in photos to the right may be doable if the client is sufficiently informed to determine if the paint and iron or steel body of the toys is original and is able to detect replacement parts and condition problems. The Icart print of the woman and greyhounds to the right should be inspected to determine if it is authentic or a reproduction, unless It it is known to have been in the family since the 1930's.

Expert Witness Appraisals

Novotny is frequently retained to provide litigation support valuation services when objects are not available for inspection. Most cases involved the total loss or damage of personal property or antiques in California. His first trial was in 1996. For more information visit the Expert Witness section of this website. In some of these appraisal assignments there were multiple plaintiffs, with each suffering a complete loss of their antiques, personal property and residential contents.



Extent of Description Needed for an Appraisal without an Inspection


The appraiser seeks to identify the term an object is typically called by informed market participants and common alternative terms (e.g. "tall case clock" or "Grandfather clock"), original cost/replacement cost, quantity, age, marks, makers, artist/author etc., condition, quality and significant property attributes such as color, size, material etc.. This is not always possible since such characteristics may be unknown by the owner and the property cannot be inspected. 


A simple written description with few words is sometimes the only basis for a property identification. At a minimum the appraiser must sufficiently understand the object common name (e.g. bicycle, racing bike, mountain bike), it's quantity and some indication of it's quality (perhaps it's cost new). The appraiser can employ appropriate assumptions consistent with the information that is provided. If no special characteristics are claimed, the appraiser may assume that the property is of a common type that is typically found in the marketplace. Such brief descriptions frequently apply to total household losses and in litigation support with loss/claim descriptions with few words.
  

Important General Property Descriptive Information in General​


Clients are generally advised, to the best of their knowledge, to identify the term that will best identify what the property is typically called (e.g. the term most commonly used by market participants when buying and selling comparable properties). 

State the maker; estimate of the quantity and the material from which it was created. Describe important quality characteristics and condition. Provide your opinion of the date or period in which the object was created, state the date and cost of acquisition, the country or culture of origin, any special decorative or quality features, design characteristics and unusual materials  and techniques of construction.

The description should include the size (weight if relevant) and any marks such as the manufacturer, maker, author, notations, signatures, inscriptions and model/serial numbers, labels, brand names, logos,  pattern names, title, or edition size and dates.

A good object description should also provide an opinion of when the object was created: 18th century, early 19th century, circa 1920, mid 20th century, late 20th century, nearly new, contemporary, etc., but only if it is true or there is a reasonable basis for an assumption of age. 

Gather and provide copies of purchase receipts, canceled checks, prior appraisal reports, inventories or family photographs that show all or part of lost objects.

Provenance, celebrity ownership, signatures, labels, citations in related literature and history of exhibition should be noted. 

Condition factors are very important. Describe any restorations, alterations, additions, part replacements, missing parts or damage(breaks, fading, surface losses, cracks, chips, dents, rubbings, scratches, abrasions or discoloration. Note factors such as obsolescence, mileage or hours of use. 

​​Online Distant Appraisals Without Inspection

in Los Angeles or Nationwide 

Arrange a distant or online appraisal

Call Novotny now: (626) 292-2224



Geographic competency: Novotny is very experienced with the Southern California competing market levels. He also regularly reviews the completed sales of major regional auctions that publish completed sale results for most collectible and vintage object types. His general object and alternative market knowledge and experience goes back 38 years. He generally knows when a regional or national market may have regional market factors. 


Novotny has flown to distant locations when client's seek his expertise and are willing to pay the extra per diem to cover the travel and costs such distant appraisal assignments.