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Antiques Shopping Tool Kit

Martha Stewart Living Television

When shopping for antiques and collectibles, you never know what might turn up, so it's best to be prepared. Here's what you'll need to transport your treasures so that they arrive home safe and sound. Martha uses a canvas bag to hold all of the smaller components of this kit.

Packing blankets
You'll need several of these to cushion furniture during the ride home.

Flattened cardboard boxes or corrugated cardboard
These protect pictures and frames. 

Rope
You may need to tie the leaves of a table together. Or, if what you've bought doesn't quite fit in your trunk, you'll need to tie the trunk shut -- or lash your purchase to the roof of your car.

Zip cords or giant rubber bands
These are useful for keeping drawers from opening while in transit. They're also good for tying groups of objects together.

Scissors and utility knife
You'll need these to cut the rope.

Magnifying glass
It's helpful to be able to read hallmarks on silver or on the back of fine porcelain.

Large plastic bags
Plastic bags protect purchases on rainy and snowy days, and they're great for transporting textiles or rugs, which may possibly be infested with pests.

Bubble wrap
A roll of bubble wrap always comes in handy for fragile items.

Stretch wrap tape
Wrap it around furniture. Unlike conventional moving tape, this tape won't leave marks.

Sturdy tape measure
A tape measure is indispensable when deciding whether or not to buy that medicine cabinet for your new bathroom.

Measurement log
It's important to bring with you the dimensions of your home or apartment. You'll want to know the overall dimensions of each room (good for carpet decisions), plus window-frame, fireplace, stairway, and entry-way dimensions, as well as the dimensions of the elevator in your building. The dimensions of any unframed artwork you own are also useful, in case you come across a beautiful old picture frame. Knowing the interior dimensions of your car is important, too.

Mini casters
You can buy these at hardware stores. They make moving heavy objects really easy.

Reference books and websites
"Kovel's Antiques & Collectibles Price List" is a good price guide/reference book (see also Kovels online). "Antique Trader's Antique & Collectibles Price Guide" is also helpful.

Flashlight
The corners and back rooms of antiques shops can often be dark. A flashlight is also useful for peering underneath a piece of furniture.

Black light
These handheld lights are often sold at antiques centers. They are ideal for inspecting old wood for evidence of any past repairs.

Cameras
A digital or cell phone camera comes in handy. If you're not sure about something, take a picture, then contemplate the object at home, or talk to an informed friend about it. It's also worth taking a picture so that you can go home and measure before making a serious investment.

Cash
Most dealers prefer to deal in cash, though checks or even traveler's checks are better than credit cards.

Umbrella
It's important that you and your treasures stay dry.