Imperial-era Russian samovars -- elaborate kettles usually used for making tea -- are highly collectible. The height of samovars' popularity in Russian middle- and upper-class households came at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Thousands of factories sprung up to meet demand. Samovars from that period come in many shapes and sizes and their value varies greatly.
Determine the condition of the samovar. Is it tarnished? Does it have many dents? Is it missing any parts? Could it still be used? A mint-condition antique samovar will be much more collectible than one that looks old or damaged. Find out where, and by whom, it was kept.
Determine the history of the samovar. Trace the history from the year it was made until it came into your possession. Knowing the piece's history makes it more valuable to a museum or collector.
Determine what material the samovar is made of. Samovars may be made of brass, bronze, iron, copper and precious metals such as gold and silver. A samovar made of gold or silver is very valuable. Copper, bronze and brass pieces are more valuable than those made of iron.
Fine the maker's name and the place it was made. A maker's mark, sometimes accompanied by a place and a date, is found on the bottom of a samovar. If the maker's name is famous or rare or the piece comes from a well-respected samovar-making area such as Tula, it could affect the value. Famous maker's include N. Batashevym and V.S. Batashev.
Measure the samovar's height and breadth. The samovar's dimensions affect its value.
Determine the samovar's style and purpose. Most Russian samovars are large pieces designed for making the household tea. Others were made for travel or to make coffee. Note the design style, ornamentation, detail around the lid, rims and handles and any decorative figures or symbols. Find antiques' catalogs that feature samovars to explain what to look for.
Call appraisers. Once you've gathered your samovar's information, locate five or six antiques appraisers and ask for a valuation. Make sure the appraisers are certified by The International Society of Appraisers (ISA), the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) or the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and have experience with Russian samovars. The appraisers will not be able to give an official valuation without seeing the piece -- at which point they will charge a fee -- but they will be able to offer an estimate over the phone.
Do not assess the value of your samovar by using the Internet. Without expert advice, you could overvalue or undervalue your piece.