Whether the collector in your life heads out into barns and outbuildings like Mike & Frank on American Pickers, or peruses flea markets and antique malls, these 10 items are “must haves.”
1. Flashlights – If you watch American Pickers, you’ve heard Mike and Frank chastise Danielle for not having a flashlight. You don’t need to be climbing piles of junk in dark buildings to appreciate a flashlight; the early hours at outdoor flea markets can be just as visually challenging. The model the pickers prefer is the rough & ready Maglite 3D Flashlight with an adjustable light beam — this one even has the pickers’ name on it.
2. Portable Blacklights - Regular flashlights may help you find your way, but UV blacklights are used to find the good stuff. Collectors use blacklights for everything from dating textiles and ephemera to identifying the authenticity of money, minerals, and vaseline glass. Blacklights can also help discover repairs in porcelain, cast iron, and paintings. Portable blacklights mean a collector can discover the truth about an item before he’s paid for it and brought it home. Shown here is the 365 NM LED Ultra Violet Blacklight Flashlight.
3. Magnifying Glasses – Whether a traditional Sherlock Holmes-looking magnifying glass or a a small jewelers loupe, portable magnifying tools allow collectors to note the small details on everything from coins and pottery to maps and stamps. Those who repair as well as collect may also want magnifying glasses on stands. Shown here is a pair of magnifying glasses with LED lights by Vivitar.
4. Tools – Speaking of repairs… Watch and jewelry collectors especially love their tools, but nearly any collector can benefit from carrying around at least a Swiss Army Knife. Along with prying open things, you can cut-off obsolete strings and rope. This Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker and Classic Knife Combo also has a Phillips screwdriver, scissors, and a nail file. (Never overlook the importance of a nail file when out picking!)
5. Magnets – Magnets are often used by collectors to test the metal of objects, helping differentiate say solid brass and bronze pieces from plated steel ones. Magnets can also help identify gold and silver jewelry from their plated counterparts. This magnet has a brass case and is on a keyring so that it can be kept with your keys, ready when you leave the house. (Just be aware that magnets can damage items with magnetic strips, like credit and debit cards; so carry them separately.)
6. Tape Measures – Sometimes deciding whether or not an item fits in a collection is a literal thing. When you need to know if that antique porcelain sign will fit on the wall above the sofa — or in the car to get home — the tape measure is your friend. These tape measures are not only practical, but decorative — and they can be personalized.
7. Carts – Once a collector has found what they want, portable folding shopping carts can help get it home. Or at least to the car. And they keep a collector’s hands free for more shopping. I personally prefer the canvas styles, as nothing can drop though the basket.
8. Publications - For the days (and nights) collectors can’t get out and about, subscriptions to magazines and other publications dedicated to antiques will keep them in the hunt. One of my personal favorites is Antique Week. This two-section weekly newspaper has a national section and a regional section with listings for auctions and news in the collector’s own neck of the woods.
9. Maps & Atlases - Sooner or later, all collectors venture out of their local neighborhoods. Maybe there’s an auction or antique show they read about in the next state over — hey, a collector might as well forage along the way. Many smart phones have GPS apps and there are GPS systems like Garmin too. (I am a complete sucker for Garmin’s catchy theme song.) But don’t overlook good old fashioned paper maps and road atlases either. They are not only practical for those those times you’ve slipped off the grid, but there are other benefits to good old fashioned paper maps as well. One, you can sit down and mark out your path. Two, you can make notes on the map, writing down the locations of great stores and scores.
10. Smart Phones & Tablets – Antiquers need to move into the technological future. Or at least the present. Smartphones are not only practical in terms of communication, GPS, and taking photographs, but you can great apps for collectors on them too. (For folks who are accustomed to their traditional cell phones or married to their calling plans, tablets are another means of getting apps.) A collector may not have a long list of experts to call like the Harrison’s do on Pawn Stars, but antiquing apps can make up for that.