The most common reasons for an appraisal include divorce (for equitable distribution), insurance, estate (either estate planning or when someone dies), and donation. Sometimes someone "just wants to know what it is worth" and that is fine too. In every state there are qualified appraisers who understand how to craft an appraisal so it meets legal guidelines. They understand the different types of appraisals and they keep up to date on the laws, the tests, and different art scholarship. The two questions you should ask an appraiser are "Have you taken and passed USPAP?" and "Do you belong to an appraisal society?" Recently, the Appraisal Foundation determined there are 1 million persons performing appraisals. However, there are only 2000 members in the three appraisal societies. All three appraisal organizations require members to understand, remain certified in, and write reports according to USPAP. If your appraiser has does not belong to one of these societies and has not taken USPAP there is very little chance that they will be performing their job accurately.
I belong to the Appraisers Association of America, one of the three major appraisers associations for personal property appraisers. I do complete appraisals outside of Kentucky. Recently, a client with a second home in Florida sent me to that state because he trusted me to do a good job based on the appraisal I performed for him in Kentucky. I have also been hired as an appraiser in Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee. In many states appraisers charge $100-$200 per hour. I charge much less than this so if there is a lot of work it may be more economical to pay the plane fare and hotel bill for me than for someone else. Then again, if you only have five pieces it would benefit you to use someone locally.
Before you hire an appraiser do your research and understand the appraisers qualifications! In the long run it will benefit you and help you get the best apprasial possible.