The Best Books for Pickers – Learn How to Pick Antiques Like a Pro

With the rise in popularity of shows like Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers, there has been a huge surge of interest in buying and selling antiques, often with the hope that a “lost treasure” is ready to be found at the next estate sale, garage sale, or flea market.

As with any topic that has captured a part of the public’s imagination, “picking,” or combing sales for antiques and other valuable items has generated a flood of books on the topic. In this brief review, we’ll look at a few of the best books on the topic available today.

1) Picker’s Bible: How to Pick Antiques Like the Pros by Joe Willard

Aimed at helping readers improve their antiquing skills, Picker’s Bible is an informative and entertaining look at “The Science of Scrounging,” whether it’s estate sales, garage sales, or even dumpster diving. Full of tips on where and how to find the best deals on antiques and memorabilia, Willard’s book highlights many of the pros’ secrets to success, including how to negotiate for better prices, both when buying and selling, and he includes some of the common pitfalls and information on how to avoid them. A quick and fun read, Picker’s Bible is great for anyone interested in the “Picking” phenomenon.

2) American Pickers Guide to Picking by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz

Mike Wolfe and Fritz have singlehandedly popularized the idea of “picking:” a kind of hybrid of antiquing and acquiring what they call “rusty gold.” Bringing their expertise as professional treasure hunters to their American Pickers Guide, the authors relate stories of their travels and encounters with collectors, extreme stockpilers, and professional dealers.

Steering clear of “fine antiques,” the two share tips for finding hidden gems, how to negotiate prices, and how to cultivate relationships with buyers like art directors and interior designers. Whether you are a fan of the show or a seasoned picker yourself, American Pickers Guide is a fun and useful look into the current “picking” phenomenon.

3) Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider’s Look
at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques and Collecting by Maureen Stanton

The vast and diverse world of flea markets has undergone a surge in popularity thanks to shows like Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers. Maureen Stanton takes readers deep inside the “flea-a-sphere” subculture with Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, from everyday flea markets to the highest levels of competitive antique auctions.

Filled with colorful characters and outrageous stories of hidden treasure revealed, Stanton’s book is a great look at the cult of collecting, and includes insider tips on finding, buying, and selling the hidden treasures available through flea markets and antique dealers today.

4) Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2017 Price Guide by Eric Bradley

Touted as “America’s #1 selling antiques and collectibles guide,” Eric Bradley’s book is a must have reference for anyone interested in any kind of collecting, whether flea market and garage sale “picking” or high end antiquing. With over 150 collecting categories, this guide contains high quality photographs, tips for locating identifying details, and current market values for 5000 commonly bought and sold collectibles. Helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling collectibles, Bradley’s 2017 Price Guide will instill confidence in any collector, whether a seasoned buyer or a weekend estate sale warrior.

5) The Unofficial Guide to Collecting Antiques by Sonia Weiss

Whether you are a serious collector or a casual browser of flea markets, Weiss’ Unofficial Guide to Collecting Antiques is a great resource for anyone interested in the popular “picking” phenomenon. Filled with an insider’s perspective on a wide range of sources (from auctions and junk shops to flea markets and estate sales), this book provides the reader with a wealth of information on everything from evaluating a piece’s condition to how to spot fakes.

Sections on negotiating fair prices, how damages can affect price, and even what might be the next ‘hot item’ in collectibles all provide the reader with valuable information essential to being a successful collector.

6) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying & Selling Antiques by Emyl Jenkins

For any collector, seasoned pro or rank amateur, The Complete Guide to Buying and Selling Antiques is a great resource for both sides of the antique and collectibles trading market. This book offers insights into whether or not to utilize the services of a dealer, consignment shop, or auction house, as well as information on actually evaluating the age, quality, and value of all kinds of collectibles.

Covering a range of collectible items, from toys to everyday household items to fine furniture and more, Jenkins’ book is a useful tool for any collector. The book also includes appendices that cover periods and styles, as well as information on different venues and auction houses.

7) Picker’s Pocket Guides to Signs, Comic Books, Hot Wheels,
and More by various authors

This series of books is a great resource for those with a specific area of interest in their “picking” activities. With introductory material on the history of the individual category, and how they became “collectible,” these Picker’s Pocket Guides set their subjects in the larger context of the collecting world, and then get quite specific. The Picker’s Pocket Guide to Signs includes information on the best categories of signs to collect, where to find them, and how to spot common reproductions and fakes.

For those interested in collecting toys, the Picker’s Pocket Guide to Toys offers information on toy-box treasures: from antique toy motorcycles to the value of unopened Lego sets, action figures, space toys, train sets, and more. And if that isn’t specific enough, The Pocket Guide for Hot Wheels is an amazing tour through the world of Hot Wheel collecting—complete with color photos of Hot Wheels that have sold for over $70,000.

If your interest is in comic books, The Picker’s Pocket Guide to Comic Books shares the most valuable comics from every era, and practical strategies for locating, buying, and selling them. 

How to Sell Picked Antique Jewelry & Watches

Have you been successful in picking valuable antique jewelry or Swiss watches, and are ready to sell your items? It is best to contact an estate expert like Diamond Estate Jewelry Buyers, who deals exclusively in these items and can often pay you higher prices than other buyers. To receive a free appraisal of your antique diamond & gemstone jewelry and antique timepieces, contact DEJB today toll free or by email.

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