Authentication and Appraisal Services
For many years, we have provided document authentication, evaluation, and appraisal services to customers, institutions, as well as colleagues in allied collecting fields who desire the insight of a specialist.
Our standard written Manuscript Property Examination Reports include statement of expert opinion as to authenticity of the item under consideration, bases for possible dispute, if applicable, and estimation of current value. Such Reports are often desired by collectors for immediate or planned presentation to insurance underwriters, for use when the item is sold at a future time, or simply to reassure themselves of the genuineness (or lack of same!) of an item about which they've wondered.
The first Report, based upon examination by mail, fax, or Internet, is a reasonable $59.00, and each additional requested at the same time is $34.50. Discounted rates for groups, collections, and archives, by quotation.
Our standard written Manuscript Property Appraisal Report is tailored, as is customary, to the anticipated needs of its recipient, whether charitable, insurance, transit, replacement, or other in character.
For items requiring extended special research, and/or of a complex nature or presenting special considerations, fees are quoted based upon the particulars of the individual case.
In the last several years, new guidelines have been introduced for appraisers. Called USPAP - Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice - the new format is particularly expected in appraisals for charitable donation and for insurers. USPAP involves much more detail, discussion, and formatting than customary reports, hence the cost is rather higher. Our appraiser is USPAP compliant (effective to February 2023), the course conducted by the Appraisers Association of America, in New York City.
If your materials for appraisal are intended for donation, for insurance purposes, and/or are of especially high value, the long-form USPAP treatment is in your best interest. Rates gladly quoted, depending upon the nature of the material, and size of the collection. (The shorter USPAP Restricted Report format is also available to meet your needs.)
Note that for authentication only, and for broad pricing guidance, our standard, lower fees continue to apply, as listed above.
What kinds of items can we examine or appraise?
Historical documents, manuscripts, autographs, letters, diaries, old newspapers, rare books, antiquarian materials, posters, broadsides, printed matter, photographs, and generally memorabilia, ephemera and collectibles of almost any period or variety...as long as it incorporates paper in its composition. (We do not offer our services for modern celebrity, sports, and popular-culture autographs; unless these are obtained in person, it is exceedingly difficult to determine their authenticity.)
How old must an item be to merit professional examination?
We have handled manuscript items as early as the fourth century B.C., and as modern as the twenty-first. Even if an item has been purchased in good faith, and is accompanied by a "certificate of authenticity" (bear in mind that even replicas today include "certificates of authenticity"!), problems can be overlooked or missed for many years. Problems can include one or more of the following:
- an old forgery (these are actually collectible, though at values much lower than if they were genuine)
- a modern forgery (this is the kind of problem most people think of, but there are others)
- a complete fabrication (these entail such embellishments as old-stock paper, and can present so many misleading cues to the buyer that serious financial loss can occur)
- mistaken identity (just as today, "John Hancock" and "James Madison" were not unique names)
- altered items (these include repairs, old or new, using harmful techniques, repairs to conceal defects affecting desirability and value, trimming, and many other factors, whether the work of time or of a clever seller, which can reduce the value and marketability of an item)
- ... and more!
About the items most frequently submitted for authentication and appraisal:
Every few days, we receive an inquiry on a Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Gettysburg Address. These are, with literally a handful of exceptions over our appraiser’s half-century here, reproductions.
Over some two hundred years, untold millions (and perhaps tens of millions) of reproductions of these have been printed, in a wide variety of formats, sizes, and artistic treatments. To this day, such repro, can still be found - fresh off the press - for a few dollars at gift shops at historical sites, and purchased by teachers for classroom use. The telltale cockled, burnt-orange “parchment” did not exist at the time those documents were first created. It “looks” old, but rarely is. In fact, such paper is still made by a large mill in Wisconsin, and can be bought by printers by the carton or skid for projects requiring that “ye olde worlde” mystique.
Should you still wish to submit your foundational document, such as a Declaration, Constitution, or Gettysburg Address, we can offer a reduced half-price fee of $29.50 in the event it is determined to be a reproduction. This fee is in consideration of the time involved in downloading images, examination, and replying; because of the number of such inquiries, it became necessary to charge this modest amount. If examination of the item is necessary to remove any lingering doubt, return shipping at cost would be additional.
There do remain genuine and older commemorative printings of core historical documents which are of high value - and on occasion, spectacularly so. We are always pleased to authenticate and appraise all such material, but wish to share the above probabilities, as our services, as reasonable as they are, are cost-ineffective for ubiquitous reproductions, and we do not wish clients to spend money without a return.
What can we offer?
Our staff offers expertise in a blend of fields not believed to be available together at comparable firms:
From an extensive background in type direction, including knowledge of foundry variants, typesetting processes, and the history of print production methods, we can often identify questionable items due to the use of an incorrect typestyle.
From an extensive background in fine printing, we can often not only date an otherwise undatable item by its paper and finish, but sometimes identify the name and even the location of the mill that produced it.
From an extensive background in graphics and in-depth familiarity with materials, we can often judge the probability of authenticity of an item by its ink's properties.
From an extensive background in handling autographs, manuscripts, and paper items of all kinds (we've been in business since 1946), we've often seen tens, hundreds, or thousands of a particular kind of item...there's no substitute for experience.
And, if we're stymied, our reference library and colleagues often are of critical assistance.
Naturally, we cannot guarantee a definitive judgement in every single case--no one can. But the blend of our experience and backgrounds often offers an inexpensive shortcut to the same result that would have been obtained with forensic testing at a cost of many hundreds or thousands of dollars.
How are items submitted for a Report?
A good photocopy is usable to reach a decision in about 25% of all examinations. In the other 75%, we must see the actual item under consideration. We encourage contact by mail, phone, or other convenient means before sending anything, as we can sometimes offer insight just by knowing what the item is. Payment may be made by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, check, or money order.
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If we can be of service to you, contact us at:
Document Preservation Center
Postal 821, Yonkers, N.Y. 10702, USA
Telephone: 914-476-8500, 914-476-8573, 914-476-3051
FAX: (1-914) 476-8573
E-mail: info AT cohascodpc.com
BACKUP E-MAIL (ONLY): dpc AT dpc.nu
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