The popularity of television shows such as Antique Roadshow, where people find treasures in their attics and basements and get them appraised, has spawned a craze that has resulted in people getting items appraised free at walk-in events at a variety of locations.
But these kinds of appraisals, called “verbal approximations of value,” provide only a general sense of what an antique or heirloom is worth, according to an article in Forbes.
These declarations of approximate value may help you decide whether to keep an item or try to sell it, they are not good enough to have such items insured, divvied up as part of an estate settlement, or to justify a large tax deduction for a charitable gift.
To do any of these things, the article says, you will need a formal, written appraisal, and these are much costlier, certainly not free.
Most of the time, when people bring items to legitimate auction houses for formal appraisals, they are disappointed, the article says. It details a number of instances where people thought they had valuable antiques only to find out later that they were not valuable at all.
The chances of finding a fortune in your attic are slim, unfortunately.