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Home | Articles | The Appraisers' Registry: 22 Years and Still Going Strong

When my wife and I came to the United States from England in 1948, we found we had to be self-employed to make ends meet. We started by making marmalade in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Over the years I entered the non-profit and educational worlds. By the time I reached my 60s in the late 1970s, I had the urge to go into business for myself again. Luckily, it has been a success, and the result is The Appraisers’ Registry of New England LLC.

From 1948 to 1978, I had come to know many people throughout New England, so I started spreading the word among them that I was starting a company. Its purpose was to take professional photographs of the treasures in private collections for insurance purposes.

I found myself traveling all over New England, taking slides. Those who invited me knew and trusted me; they wanted a friend in their home rather than a perfect stranger. After I completed a job, I’d invariably be asked if I knew an appraiser of fine arts or other areas who could be trusted. I replied that several years earlier I had hired Roland Hammond, a person of good repute, to come to my home to appraise—but he was the only one I knew.

It was then that I came up with an idea to try to fill what seemed to be a gaping hole—a way to bring together an unconnected world of generalist and specialist appraisers. Shortly thereafter, I met a woman at a lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, who was a silver appraiser. Upon hearing my plan, she asked whether I thought she might get more work if she joined me. Taking her up on her suggestion, I suggested that we discuss things further, and if all was on the up-and-up, we might work together for mutual benefit. She became the first member of my Registry.

Today the Appraisers’ Registry has twenty-two members. Five of these are generalists, and the rest are specialists in their many fields of expertise including stringed instruments, Quimper, Asian art, paintings, and jewelry. Included in the group is my business partner, Wallace Savory, who joined me a couple of years ago. At 80, I thought I was getting a bit lazy, and he thought I needed modernizing, so it has made for a good union.

Recently, the Registry has made great strides. We now have an informative Web site where we post the credentials of members, costs, and other important details. Our referrals usually come from the foremost insurance agencies in New England, many of whom have participated from the beginning. We also connect with clients through the ever-effective “word of mouth” method. In 1997 the Registry was awarded the designation, Best of Boston, by Boston Magazine.

Our customers often return to us every few years for an update on their appraisal, and we are grateful to them. We appreciate our clients, be they private, corporate, educational, or non-profit. We have made, and still enjoy, many great friendships, and that’s just the way I hoped it would be many years ago when I became self-employed…again.

For more information, contact The Appraisers’ Registry at 781.467.0010 or visit www.appraisersregistry.com.

Michael Wynne-Willson is the founder and president of The Appraisers’ Registry, based in Westwood, Massachusetts. He is the author of a memoir, Before I Forget: Book One (2001).

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