Chicago Music Appraiser

When it comes to Chicago music history, there are professional appraisers that ensure the value and authenticity of these artifacts or possessions. Music appraisers are reliable and credible because of their method of Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (“USPAP”) as required by the I.R.S. and most legal forums. The music appraisal services covers different areas, such as insurance replacements, legal settlement of damages, IRS charitable donations values, and expertise for archives and institutions.

An appraiser who is specifically qualified in the area of music memorabilia – whether it be record albums, posters, sheet music, or any other related item – has the added expertise needed to properly identify and value the material. Chicago has many historic archives and collections that warrant serious attention for appraisal.

Music Appraisal for Insurance Companies

Insurance companies can rely on a music appraiser’s objective comparative values to insure property, adjust for a loss, settle disputes, and to assist in litigation if necessary. If the University of Chicago’s Music Collection ( (773-702-8447, 1100 E 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637) needed consultation for insurance purposes, a music appraisal service would be a great help.

The Music Collection, comprising over 70,300 books, 49,000 journal volumes, over 115,000 scores and 54,000 audio and video recordings, supports Music Department programs in music history, music theory, ethnomusicology, and composition.

A major component of the Collection is the Chicago Jazz Archive, founded in 1976 to preserve materials on the birth and early growth of Chicago jazz. Their Web site is:

Chicago Jazz Archive of Historical Music Photographs - Music Memorabilia
Chicago Jazz Archive of Historical Music Photographs

 Members of the public can view and listen to many of the print and audio collection maintained by the University of Chicago. For more information, visit

Music Appraisal for Donations

A common need for music appraisal services is evaluation for a charitable contribution credit with the I.R.S. For example, if one were to donate an album collection to the Center for Black Music Research (, 618 South Michigan, 6th Floor, Chicago, IL 60605 (312) 369-7586) or the Newberry Independent Research Library (, 60 W Walton Street, Chicago, IL, 60610, (312) 943-9090) a music appraiser can help determine its Fair Market Value and provide the required documentation. Both of these archives are located in Chicago:

Center for Black Music Research                                               

Founded at the Columbia College Chicago in 1983, the Center for Black Music Research is the only organization of its kind. It exists to illuminate the significant role that black music plays in world culture, by serving as a nexus for all who value black music, by promoting scholarly thought and knowledge about black music, and by providing a safe haven for the materials and information that document the black music experience across Africa and the diaspora.

The Library and Archives of the Center for Black Music Research holds comprehensive research collections covering all genres and styles in black music of the United States and the African diaspora.

Visit their website to review the resources available at the Library:

Newberry Independent Research Library

The Newberry collects manuscript and printed source materials for western European music from the late Middle Ages into the early twentieth century and for American music from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century. There are also strong holdings for musical life in Chicago, from the mid-nineteenth through the twentieth century. Their Web site is:

Evaluating Music Collections

Suppose an institution needs affirmation of certain archives, a music appraisal service would be the best service for a variety of operations. A music appraiser can help you understand the strengths and weakness of the archive while providing a thorough review of the formats, editions, and condition of any recording media as well as printed memorabilia. Many specialty archives can benefit from appraisal services, from donation appraisal to collection evaluation. An excellent historical music archive can be found at the Chicago Public Library, which holds various collections including the Chicago Blues Archives (, 400 S. State Street, Chicago IL, 60605 (312) 747-4300).

Established in 1981 with a generous gift from Chicago radio station WXRT, the Chicago Blues Archives house audio and visual recordings, promotional materials, artifacts and related materials. Of particular interest is a collection of demo and live recordings not commercially available and an extensive collection of material from the Chicago Blues Festivals – including audio and video recordings of festival performances.

About Stephen M. H. Braitman

If you or your institution need professional music appraisal services, Stephen M. H. Braitman is an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers. He is the ONLY accredited appraiser in the country with a specialty in Recorded Media (LPs, 45s, CDs, all formats) and Music Memorabilia (Posters, Photos, Signed Instruments, Promotional Items, Artist-Owned Objects, Sheet Music & Scores). His services consist of:

Professional Appraisal Services for Individuals

  • Insurance Replacement Cost Coverage
  • IRS Charitable Donations
  • Equitable Division of Property in an Estate or Divorce
  • Estate Planning
  • Expert Witness
  • IRS Federal Estate Tax
  • Loss of Value Claims
  • Opinions of Value
  • Settlement of Damage
  • Valuation and Settlement

Expert Appraisal Services for Collectors and Professionals

  • Record Collectors and Dealers
  • Archives, Libraries, Auction Houses
  • Insurance Agencies
  • Executors for Estates

Stephen M. H. Braitman can be contacted at 415-897-6999 or email at braitman@musicappraisals.