Our very first barn adventure was at our client’s gorgeous estate in the Philadelphia region. The fantastic old barn was part of a gentleman’s farm that operated some years ago. It was full in all four compartments leaving, what seemed like, an endless supply of high quality and interesting antiques and collectibles.
Tip #1- Safety is the first step to finding antiques and collectibles in your old barn. Start by dressing in long pants, long sleeve shirts and thick leather gloves protecting your arms, legs and hands. Make sure you have a face mask as there is plenty of dust and dirt around. Remember, much of the dust and dirt can come from animal nests etc. so it’s very important that you wear a face mask. It is also important to wear sturdy boots or hiking shoes that support your ankles and protect you against nails. Some old barns are built in multiple levels with uneven dirt floors. On a side note, old ladders and staircases have to be checked carefully before using them. Finally, bring you own large, battery operated, tri-pod light as barns are usually dark making it hard to see. The tri-pod will free your hands up and light up the whole room.
Tip #2-Bring the proper equipment and supplies. In addition to the above mentioned; small Shovel (for dirt floor barns), Dust Brush, Loop, Magnet, Measuring Tape, Bug Repellant (Mosquito’s love old barns) , Wet Wipes, Tie down rope or straps, water and computer with internet access.
Tip #3-Group the clutter to reveal the treasure! Start by removing the obvious items that are not antiques and collectibles. For example, the large pieces of lumber and plywood moved to an empty corner will open things up and in many cases reveal many treasures. Other items in this category include modern items currently being used like garden equipment or lawn mowers. Secondly, remove the obvious trash and bag it up putting it outside making it ready for trash day. Addressing these two categories will eliminate the overwhelming feeling you get when faced with a full barn.
Tip#4- Take Breaks but be persistent. Some of the most interesting antiques and collectibles will not be in plain sight. You must be persistent if you are to find your treasures. That doesn’t mean you can’t break for lunch or take a much needed water break. However, you have to look in and under every nook and cranny. Look at what is hanging on the walls, look behind the wall panels, in the rafters, under the loose floor boards, on and above window sills. I remember being in one room in the barn and it didn’t look very promising as most of it was old lumber and power tools. We refused to walk away and started our search. In an old workbench drawer double boxed, wrapped up in a brown paper bag we found a WWII Sherrill compass. In the same manner, we also found two WWII aircraft engine warmers in their original boxes sitting in the rafters just above the same workbench.
Tip #5- Don’t assume but gather information. Some items are worth more then you think and others are not worth as much as you think. Take the appropriate measures to properly identify your antique or collectibles. When you start to come across interesting antiques or collectible enjoy it but don’t let the adrenaline cloud your judgement. Some will be familiar to you while others may not be as familiar. Examine the piece carefully using a soft bristle brush to gently remove any dust or dirt off. A small bright pocket flashlight is essential as it can be used to direct light in small nooks and crannies. To further help in the process, we found it helpful to look in near by drawers and shelves. Doing this sometimes turns up the original paperwork, manuals etc. giving you all the information you need. After finding some basic information, use your portable internet access to help in your identification. Having your antique and collectible price guide may help you to determine if you found a treasure or not, however sometimes it’s far more complex then that. If you just are not sure, it may be appropriate to pay for a certified appraisal.
We hope you have as much fun as we did!
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