Have you ever come across something that’s interesting but have no idea what it is or what its potential value may be? Officially known as a “Thingamajig,” I’ve come across many of these in my travels and have found a few places that have been helpful in my attempts to find out “what the heck is this thing?” Let’s take a look at a few of them…
Reverse Image Search
A great place to start the research process is through an online image search. This is especially true if it’s difficult to adequately describe the item in words. More times than not, Google Images will be your best bet for conducting image searches. We have detailed instructions on using Google Images in our post, Reverse Image Search With Google. Not a fan of Google? Bing also offers a similar tool on their image search page.
While Google Image Search is widely recognized as the biggest and the best, there are other companies supplying reverse image search tools. One that I’ve successfully used in the past is TinEye. I often use their search tools when I’m striking out with Google. Very similar to Google, just upload an image and search!
Just about any social network can help with research. You can ask friends on Facebook or take to Twitter and plead for help. I’ve found that Instagram works well for me.
Instagram is a photo based, mobile social networking platform. In a way, it can function as a type of reverse image search tool with the added benefit of having a person on the other end. While you can’t upload an image to search with, you can search by hashtags and scroll through the results.
Once you’ve installed the Instagram app on your mobile device, take a few detailed pictures of your item with your phone and post them to your Instagram account. Be sure to load your post with hashtags describing the item. For example, if it’s a coin, use #coin, #antiquecoin, #silver, #silvercoin, etc. Ask people to comment on the photo with any information they might have.
Reddit & Online Forums
The world is full of passionate collectors who jump at the chance to share their knowledge and help other collectors identify objects. If you have a general idea of what the object is, then search out an online forum specific to that type of object. Is it a Civil War artifact? If so, then try one of the many Civil War focused online forums and post your question. For example, check out My Treasure Spot. And always add detailed photos when possible!
If you really aren’t sure what you have; or just don’t want to create multiple online accounts, then I would try the biggest forum of them all, Reddit. To get started, sign up for an account and then find the forums (or subreddit) you think might help the most. Have a coin you need more information on? Try /r/coins and post your question there. Have a general antique? Try /r/antiques. You get the idea… My experience with Reddit has been good. If the subreddit has a lot of subscribers and appears to be active, you will probably get an answer to your question within a few hours (if not minutes).
Ask an Appraiser
Lastly, the most tried-and-true way to find out anything in life is to talk to someone who knows their stuff! Professional appraisers can be a great resource to tap into to help with a single item or even your whole collection. However, keep in mind that an appraiser’s service most likely isn’t free. You’re asking a professional to provide a service; and as such, you may be expected to pay a fee in exchange for their help. After all, providing this kind of service is how they make their living.
Before you go down the path of asking an appraiser for help, be sure to read through a few of our articles such as the 7 Things to Know About Professional Appraisals and Appraisals – How Much Is This Worth? for additional information. If you live in or near a big city, chances are you have a local appraiser in your area. If you are in a more remote location, you may have to go online to find an appraiser. For example, check out the International Society of Appraisers for help.
Hopefully these tips will help you find new and productive ways to pinpoint exactly what you have! As we continue to develop RelicRecord, we will take such resources into account to build an application that will do many of the things listed above. What research tools do you use? Drop us an email or comment on this post. We would love to hear from you.