NH’s Guide to Antique Shopping

The 58th annual NH Antiques Week brings buyers and sellers from around the nation to New Hampshire. It is one of the biggest fairs for trading antiques. To commemorate the occasion, we have created a beginner’s handbook for those who have seen antique collectors’ joys (and addiction) and wish to learn the craft. Our managing editor, Barbara Coles, who has long been an antiquer, sets you on the right track. Start the game now. You should know about Hampshire antique dealers.

  • Choose a direction and gain knowledge before you begin

Most serious antiquers (we include collectors in this word) can be found at any of these locations, including group shops, flea markets, auctions, estate sales, and eBay. Others might focus exclusively on one strategy, like eBay. We’ll describe each route with resident antique expert Jason Hackler, co-owner of the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford, offering a professional recommendation and potential pitfalls for each. 

Before starting the game, you need background knowledge about antiques and collectibles. Otherwise, you risk paying too much or discovering that you purchased a copy. Knowing everything about every antique or collectible is tricky because there are so many. There are many ways to educate yourself — there is a tonne of information online, you can buy price guides (Kovels is probably the best known), or you can watch programs like PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” as well as the less polite “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel. (That’s one reason people specialize, collecting only Depression glass or daguerreotypes, for example.).

  • Group Shops

When you desired an antique or expensive item in the past, you went to an individual-owned antique store. You went to a flea market if you desired a less expensive collectible. But in Maine, a cooperative shop opened in 1972 and wholly altered everything. The business owner constructed rows of booths for dealers (or amateurs) to rent. Early on, most of the material was from flea markets, but soon antiques started to show up. Although some independently-owned stores exist today, most of the selling is done in group stores, many located in expansive spaces with a maze-like arrangement of booths.

  • Pawn shops

They typically open early on Sunday mornings (we’re talking 7 a.m.) from April to October. According to antique dealers, arriving at 9 a.m. is too late. The majority of the beautiful material will indeed be lost. Dealers have already passed through and are now enjoying coffee at their homes. Some pickers begin even earlier; at 6 a.m., they look into car and truck beds. The individuals who will set up wait in line to enter.


They typically buy goods right there. Even if you arrive early, it can be challenging to spot antiques or collectibles amid the socks, cleaning supplies, and leather goods when browsing the tables on the field. But that doesn’t matter; the excitement of the search is unaffected. Keeping antiques in your home should be a pleasure for all. It’s both eyes soothing and gives self-satisfaction.