We often receive calls at the museum from people looking for someone to appraise their antiques. We don’t typically use the term “antique” because it implies monetary value on items that we look at from a historical standpoint. Instead, we refer to such items as “artifacts” or “collections.”
Our focus on historic value makes us hesitant to approach artifacts with money in mind; even the lowliest artifact from a financial perspective can have a huge historic value.
Even if museum staff wanted to assign monetary values to artifacts, for a variety of legal reasons, we are not allowed to. We can, however, help you with the history and/or provenance of an item, which you can then use in communicating with a certified appraiser.
We cannot refer you to specific certified appraisers, but here are a number of professional organizations that can help you find one.
The Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute page on appraisals (includes links to organization listed above, plus a number of other related links)
You can also conduct your own online research on your artifact to see if you can determine its current market value. This will allow you to judge whether an appraisal is within the range of what similar items are selling for. Keep in mind, however, that many factors go into appraisals, including condition of item, age, and historic ownership. These factors can lead to a variety of values on what seem to be similar artifacts.