I have been in this business for 20 years, a store owner for the last 12 and have given many, many free appraisals. I have learned over the years how to tell someone what their item is worth(if I know)
This is the deal with free appraisals. They are only worth what you pay for them, meaning you will have to do some of your own research in order to back up the appraisal, but the information you receive can certaintly head you in the right direction.
Many times I will do the appraisal just to find out for myself what an item is or what it is worth. You never know when the info will come in handy.
If I tell you that the item you have is worth a LOT of money then I am the smartest guy in town and you tell all of your friends that this guy KNOWS what he is doing. BUT, seeing that I am an honest man(yes there are some in this business) and will not lie to you(again there are some in this business) and I tell you that what you have is not worth anything then I am just an IDIOT and have NO idea what I am doing.
I have sometimes acquired my knowledge the hard way by buying or not buying an item and losing money either way. I have done a lot of research for others also. One way to learn is to listen to those who know. As an example I know someone who knows virtually everything about carnival glass, but knows nothing about pottery and et al..I have met people who have taught me how to identify Blenko glass. They did not know much else, but they do know their Blenko. If you will close your mouth and listen to these people they will educate you, but if you act like a know it all they will not tell you anything. I recently made $500.00 by doing just that. BTW, do you know why most carnival glass is marigold or amber instead of the more popular blues and purples?
A free appraisal is most often a prelude to you trying to sell me an item. While I won't lie to you about what your item is worth, what I am willing to pay you is entirely different. Someone told me once "I know you have to make a little money" No, honey I have to make a lot of money. When asking for a free appraisal or trying to sell your item telling me that it is on the "internet" for $35,000 is kinda silly. Why would you sell it to me for $1500.00 if you can get $35,000.00.
In light of all of this, remember an item is still only worth what someone else is willing to give you. Happy buying, selling, and collecting.