Valuing, securing & insuring your antiques

The protection of antiques and works of art is becoming ever more important not simply because of the increasing value of such possessions, but also because there has been a marked rise in the incidence of theft of antiques. This is fuelled not just by antique inflation but also by the fact that previous targets for thieves, such as cameras, Hi Fi systems and computers continue to reduce in price and have a very short life-span due to continuous improvements in their specifications.


BADA and its members are often asked about how to value, secure and insure antiques and works of art, so, in conjunction with Aon, specialist art insurance brokers, this leaflet has been prepared to help owners and collectors understand the issues and, through taking the right measures, reduce significantly the risks of owning such items.

The following three steps are recommended:

  1. Understand the true value of your possessions and retain accurate descriptions and photographs of them.
  2. Know how best to secure your home and contents against loss or damage by a burglary or perhaps fire or water.
  3. As a final safeguard have the right level of insurance to compensate you in the event of loss or damage.

Professional valuations and descriptions will help you understand the true value of your antiques and works of art. The basis of valuation will depend upon its intended purpose, which is usually either for Probate, Inheritance Tax Planning, Family Division, Sale, or Replacement. For the purpose of insurance the replacement value is usually used, but for larger collections this can vary according to the wishes of the owner, provided this is agreed with the insurer.

Valuations, with good descriptions and photographs, can assist with identification after a burglary or repair after damage, and with any subsequent insurance claim. Details of stolen items can be lodged with international databases, such as the Art Loss Register or Invaluable.

  • A good valuation should include the following details:
  • Type of object
  • Materials and techniques
  • Measurements
  • Inscriptions and markings
  • Distinguishing features
  • Subject
  • Title
  • Date or period
  • Maker

Some members of BADA will be able to help with valuations as well as provide photographs of your antiques and works of art. To find a BADA member who carries out valuations use our Dealer Search facility - go to advanced search and choose one of the pre-defined categories from the Category drop down box (for example "Clocks, watches & scientific instruments"), type in the word "Valuations" into the keyword box, and then hit the "SEARCH" button!.

If you are thinking of selling an item always take advice from a reputable source — organisations such as the BADA offer free advice to help you avoid pitfalls. Never give your name and address at antiques roadshows — someone may be listening out for the information.

It is advisable to keep earlier valuations and receipts, so that you can maintain a complete history of your collection which will assist in confirming provenance for future generations.

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