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The Enlightenment: The Lamb Studios Stained Glass Newsletter

Issue No. 4, June 2014

Does a Church Need a Stained Glass Appraisal?

It is important to check with the church insurance company to be sure that the valuable stained glass windows are properly insured against full loss or partial damage. Sometimes, insurance policies have “blanket” coverage, meaning that the building and all of its contents are covered. There are other times when a “rider” is necessary to cover fine art, such as stained glass windows, tapestries, silverware, etcetera. In this case an appraisal of those items is necessary. This article will deal with stained glass appraisals.

What is a stained glass appraisal?

Replacement Value for Insurance Purposes: The cost to replace a window in part or in whole using current available materials and artistry to appear as close to the original as possible. Definition of Retail Replacement Value (as stated by the Appraisers Association of America): “…the highest amount in terms of US dollars that would be required to replace a property with another of similar age, quality, origin, appearance, provenance, and condition within a reasonable length of time in an appropriate and relevant market.”

Market Value: The price a willing buyer and willing seller agree upon. The problem today is that there are many stained glass windows on the market, especially ones that are religious, some of which are less desirable unless made by a studio or artist currently in vogue, such as a Tiffany. Knowing the maker or artist of a window may add value, especially if there is documentation or a signature, usually in the bottom right hand corner. Tiffany Studios did not always sign their windows and the older J&R Lamb Studios never signed them.

Another simple way to establish value is to check online to see what other similar styles and sizes have sold for recently and what is currently being asked for them by other sellers. It is also possible to check with antique stores and architectural salvage companies.
Condition is an extremely important factor, since, usually, the older windows are more valuable. However, being older also has its drawbacks. The lead cames may need to be replaced, or minor restoration could be required. These conditions reduce the value since the buyer must assume this responsibility. Additional costs include the removal, crating, and shipping that the buyer must assume. And, last but not least, someone has to pay for a replacement window.
Whether your interest is determining replacement value for insurance purposes or market value, it is vital to establish whether the window is by a prominent studio or artist, such as a Tiffany or some other equally desirable source. This can be accomplished by reviewing books on stained glass in which the windows are identified. One can also look on the internet.

Checking the auction houses that regularly sell stained glass is another source for establishing identity and value.

In the long run, knowing who made the window may be less important than finding a buyer who likes the window and wants to buy it.
There is a limited number of private investors who buy high-end stained glass. A reputable appraiser, auction house, or antique dealer may have access to such individuals.

An appraisal should be written by an accredited person associated with an established appraisal group. For the report to be accepted by insurance companies, courts, and other legal entities, it should be prepared following the guidelines of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice as established by the Appraisal Board of the Appraisal Foundation, Washington DC, as authorized by Congress.

Hiring an appraiser can be expensive and could cost more than the value of the item. A reputable accredited person will usually ask to see pictures of the item and advise if it is worth the cost of an appraisal.

The appraiser will need to know how many windows and their sizes and if an on-site visit is necessary. If not, he will need to know if photographs of all the windows and their condition can be sent. Before engaging the services of an appraiser, ask for references.

You may expect the appraiser to make positive identification of the window, but that is not always possible. Do not expect an appraiser to give you a “ballpark” idea of the value or expect free values; their profession is their livelihood. Their value is in the amount of experience they have and the amount of research information that is at their fingertips.

This article was written by Donald Samick, an accredited member of the Appraisers Association of America and was originally published in The Stained Glass Quarterly, 2009.

In This Issue

Does a Church Need a Stained Glass Appraisal?
Replacement and Market Values for Stained Glass.

In the News

Detroit, MI – In May 2014 one of the oldest churches in the city, The First Unitarian Church, suffered from a massive fire and was demolished shortly thereafter. Fortunately, the original stained glass windows, created by John La Farge in 1890, had been previously donated to the Detroit Institute of Art Museum and were saved from the fire.

San Francisco, CA – A $35,000 stained glass window was stolen a couple of months ago. It appeared to be a professional job because the window was expertly removed, until the window ended up at a local pawn shop. The window had to be bought from the pawn shop, and rather than have the church pay, local police officers chipped in to return the window to its rightful owner. The thief has still not been identified, and no criminal charges have been pressed. top of In the News

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