How Much Are Antique Handmade Quilts Worth?


Do you have an antique handmade quilt that you want to display or sell? Let’s find out how much it is worth before decision.

How To Determine The Value Of A Quilt?

The monetary value of a quilt is based on five criteria:

  1. Design
  2. Condition
  3. Workmanship
  4. Historical Interest
  5. Age

Different collectors may give added weight to one or another aspect of the quilt when buying. When collecting, it finally comes down to a matter of personal taste.

How To Appraise A Quilt?

There are professional quilt appraisers who will do appraisals for a quilt. Usually, they must see quilts in person to do a full appraisal.

When evaluating a quilt for appraisal purposes, it is important to know there are five basic values for a quilt:

  • Sentimental Value is the value an owner places on a quilt because of family connections, memories and personal experience with the quilt. For a collector, this is often the most important value, but it is not a factor in determining monetary worth either for resale or for insurance.
  • Insurance Value is the amount the owner should insure the quilt for in case of loss, in order to replace it with a quilt of similar age, condition and quality. The replacement is usually figured as the cost of another similar quilt, but in some circumstances may include the cost of re-creating the quilt with like materials and workmanship. In some cases, insurance value may exceed fair market value. Many insurance companies require a written appraisal before accepting quilts as “scheduled property” on personal insurance policies. If the quilt was purchased, receipts should be maintained to establish worth, and appraisals over time will be needed to establish any increase in value. Sentimental value is not considered by insurance claims adjustors in determining the amount of a loss.
  • Fair Market Value is the amount a willing buyer will pay a willing seller for this quilt within a reasonable period of time and within a reasonable geographic area. Fair market values are determined by recent sales prices of quilts of similar age, quality and condition in the local marketplace. It does not take into account the replacement cost, or sentimental value of the quilt. It also does not take into account extraordinary marketing circumstances such as prices the quilt could command at an international quilt show with thousands of buyers present. Fair Market Value is a legal definition used by the I.R.S. in determining the tax-deductibility of donations to qualified non-profit organizations, or for valuing an estate. Fair market values may vary somewhat by geographic location, and can change due to current market trends.
  • Retail Value is the amount a dealer will sell a quilt for. The price could be slightly higher or lower than fair market value depending on the marketing plan — internet sale, auction sale, quilt show, location of shop etc. Generally retail prices are higher in major metropolitan areas because of the cost of overhead, and auction prices can be skewed if family and friends are bidding using sentimental value as a guide.
  • Wholesale Value is the amount a professional dealer will pay for the quilt. You can generally expect this to be approximately half of the retail value. In some cases it will be less if the dealer is in a high cost area (New York, L.A. or a resort) where the cost of doing business is higher.

Online Quilt Appraisal

E-ppraisals are a new area of appraising brought on by the advent of the internet. They are done using photos scanned and sent by e-mail. Because they are based on the owner’s description of the quilt, including the assessment of any damage, and because photos can make a quilt look better or worse depending on the quality of the photo, e-ppraisals are necessarily limited in scope, and cannot be relied on for insurance or tax purposes. So why bother?

There are a number of circumstances when an informal e-ppraisal will do. A family trying to develop an equitable way to divide mementos among family members wanting a general idea of value to compare with grandma’s teapot. The owner of a newly acquired quilt, wanting to know if the quilt warrants a formal appraisal for insurance. Bragging rights — a dedicated quilt lover wants to be able to tell a skeptical spouse that she got a good deal at an auction.

Remember, an e-ppraisal is never a substitute for a formal appraisal if you need an insurance valuation or a tax valuation for donation or estate purposes. The pirce range may be similar to : Verbal e-ppraisals are $10, written are $20. Written e-ppraisals will include a statement about the limits of the examination.

Know Your Appraiser

When you take a treasured antique quilt or a quilt you have recently completed to an appraiser,  you have the right to expect that appraiser to be ethical, fair, and knowledgeable.  The appraiser should have extensive knowledge of three hundred years of textile history, fabrics, dyes,  and printing processes;  should be able to identify regional, ethnic, and cultural variations;  must have a keenly developed mental inventory of quilts that allows them to compare the quilt on the table to other quilts in the marketplace; must understand current costs to reproduce new quilts and much, much, more.  The written appraisal must comply with USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices) standards.  Certified appraisers must recertify every three years and they abide by a strict Code of Ethics, requiring the confidentiality of your appraisal information and more .  

The only way to be assured that your appraiser meets the standards you deserve is to verify that he or she is certified.  The only agency that administers rigorous testing and certification for appraisers in the field of quilted textiles is the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, KY.   Before you hire an appraiser, ask if he/she is certified.  If they are not, you might want to ask why they aren’t certified when those credentials are so important to verify their expertise, to stay on top of proper practices, legal requirements, markets and trends.  

Certification is crucial to validate that the appraiser complies with the requirements of insurance companies and the IRS.  If your appraiser answers that they are “AQS trained” be advised that anyone can attend the classes. These are simply introductory classes for various procedures, they do not pass/fail classes, and there is no criteria whatsoever for attending or completing the class.

There is no official government regulation for quilt and textile appraisers;  anyone can say they are an appraiser.  It is in your best interest to verify the qualifications of the person you entrust with your quilt and personal information.

The state of Florida has, at this date, the following Certified Appraisers:  Brenda Grampsas in Brooksville, Alma Moates in Pensacola, and Teddy Pruett in Lake City, Marian Smith in Clearwater Beach (winter months) and Phyllis Hatcher, who will be appraising at the World Quilt Shows (Mancuso) in West Palm Beach.

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