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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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Collection Management Made Easy and Meaningful  

Artifcts thanks Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History Appraisal, for her contributions to the following article.

Reading time: 4 minutes

You may have one or many collections, intentional collections and accidental collections. Part of the fun of collecting is keeping track of it: Knowing what you have and what you’re still hunting for, what is sentimental vs. valuable, and what is okay to sell some day versus you’d prefer to pass down to someone special.

Short checklist about collections

We know a thing or to about accidental collections. Try out our free checklist available here.

If you were a professional archivist, librarian, or appraiser, you’d have a ready tool in your pocket to help manage your collections. It’s called a finding aid. But guess what? As you Artifct your collections, you are implicitly leveraging the best of finding aids, but in a friendly form that all can enjoy and benefit from. 

Here’s your peek inside the world of archivists where we show you how finding aids and collection management are made easy and meaningful with Artifcts!

What Is a Finding Aid, and Why Should You Care?

Unless you are a collections professional (archivist, librarian, appraiser…), the concept of a finding aid is likely foreign to you. For the longest time at Artifcts we even mistakenly referred to them as finding keys. Oops!

A finding aid is exactly what it sounds like: A tool that helps you locate items within a large collection in a fast and efficient way. A finding aid is a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection. A well-designed finding aid makes quick work of determining the topical relevance of any collection. After all, what good is a collection if discoverability hinders locating and using elements within the collection in the future.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of dread and being overwhelmed upon contemplating many boxes of inherited items that probably have something important contained in them but what and where? Imagine if you had a finding aid that told you exactly what was important and where you could locate it!

This is the magic of what finding aids do.

To a large degree, information within a finding aid is standardized per guidelines from the Society of American Archivists, “Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” better known simply as DACS. Standardization means a professional could work with or for any gallery, library, archive, or museum (aka GLAM) and their collections without much difficulty. They might simply display the information differently than one’s accustomed to.

A finding aid would have information such as: reference code, title, date, extent, name of creator, description, dates, and location. Does that list look familiar? If you Artifct, it should… 

For those of us who didn’t go to Library Science school, in our daily lives we probably do not want to think about taxonomies, metadata, bytes of storage, or even finding aids. We want to enjoy and share the meaning behind the items we’ve collected and ensure the stories and value behind them live on!

Enter Artifcts: Solving Age Old Problems of Finding Aids for Every-Day Collectors 

What we created at Artifcts is the solution to several age-old problems of finding aids in an individual and family-friendly fashion. And this means great things for you all!  While finding aids are brilliant tools for professionals, they are disconnected from how most of us describe and catalog the ‘why’ of our collections. We need more multitasking support in our lives.

Here’s how you can use Artifcts to preserve the history and the value of your collections beyond the constraints of traditional finding aids.

Use those QR codes.

If you were to work with a professional appraiser, archivist, or collections manager of any type, they will likely offer as part of their services a description of the collection and list organizing the inventory within your collection, a finding aid of some sort. But how do you link that list to your physical collection? At Artifcts, you can print a QR code or use Artifcts QR code stickers to link the physical and the digital.

music box with Artifcts QR code on the bottom of the base

An Artifcts QR code unlocks the story and value!

Record your stories.

Move beyond “scope notes” and “meta data” inherent to the archivist’s expertise – “This is a 19th-century {name of item}” – and breathe life, context, and personal meaning into the objects in your collection, e.g. “This is what Great Great Grandma brought from France when she moved to New York. And I’m giving it to you now.”  

Artifcts offers the options to share your story, indicate what you want to do with items in the future, and supply critical other information like where on earth you’ve stored the item in your home or elsewhere and the supporting documents (receipts, appraisals, and more). 

Connect the dots.

We typically describe each Artifct you create as connecting the dots, because only you know how photos of those specific items relate to shape a story or history. But we help you go a step further, too. You can use our @ feature to cross reference one Artifct with another, tying together pieces of a collection and pieces of a story that others may not otherwise realize relate.  

Description field on Artifcts with menu open showing options for linking with @

Simply type @ as you add the story or description to your Artifct to link to other Artifcts.

Leverage your community.

Let’s not forget the value in sharing and collaboration to learn more about items in your collections. Through Artifcts Circles and the option to give ‘Edit’ permission to other paid Artifcts members, you can crowdsource information from your loved ones and experts alike to capture important details about your collections that may add historical and family history information as well as increase the value, too. 

Preserve what is.

Add the photos, videos, and original documents you have to your Artifcts. There’s a spot dedicated to securely preserve each as is. No compression. No conversion. What you upload is what you can always download again, too.

In our spring 2024 series finale of Evenings with Artifcts, our expert guests shed light on the 'why' and 'what' of collections.

Ensure that if you work with an appraiser or other collections manager in the future, they provide documentary support through Artifcts, so that you can protect and share the value of your collections with friends and family as well as knock off those “to dos” with your insurance company, financial planner, and estate attorney. 


You may also be interested in these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

From Rare Art to Family Heirlooms: Tips From a Master as You Consider Selling Your 'Stuff'

Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals but Were Afraid to Ask

How to Artifct that Collection

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Collections of Dubious Financial Value

“The number one reason I hold onto things is I don’t know what to do with them! And I never want to take the time to figure out how to properly dispose of them either. Poor Earth. We are such a wasteful species.” — Ellen Goodwin, co-founder of Artifcts

For others, the mere possibility of items “someday” becoming valuable is enough to trigger the collector mindset within us all: Barbie dolls and beanie babies, stickers and trading cards, stamps and coins, even free toys from fast food restaurants make the cut for some people.

three mint collectors coins in their boxes

These coins aren't valuable or sentimental, really. Maybe at a stretch they are aspirational.
To save my family a headache, I should just sell them at some point. — Ellen Goodwin

One of the great joys of the Internet is the ease of checking online consumer marketplaces like eBay and Etsy and high-end auction houses alike to get an instant sanity check on the value of whatever it is you’re holding onto. 

Bear in mind, if you love it and it’s doing no harm (you have the space, it’s not creating conflict or a safety hazard, etc.) then you may have no immediate need to get rid of anything at all. But even then, we’d ask: why not Artifct it? At least then your loved ones have a clue as to where you got it and why you’ve held onto it so they not only know you better NOW but one day, hopefully many years from now, they can make easier and faster decisions as to what to do with it all if you are no longer here.


You may also enjoy these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

Going Green with Artifcts (+ Downloadable Guide!)

Upcycling Stuff After You Declutter: Personalized Art


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

Reading time: 3 minutes 

It does not matter if you have one piece or dozens of art or other collectibles you would like to pass on via a charitable donation. The same processes and rules of the road generally apply. While Artifcts does not offer tax or estate planning services, we certainly know a thing or two about ‘stuff’ and the questions and concerns top of mind for many people about their own collections and valuables and those they inherit.

Today we’re talking about all the art, historical documents, family heirlooms, and other collectibles you may want to donate. Whether you’re planning on a donation soon or it is years off and a part of your will or estate planning process, these insights offered to you direct from consultation with seasoned estate planners and organizations on the receiving end of donations will help make sure you don’t miss anything in the art of the possible (and the reasonable) in donating your ‘stuff.’

Think beyond museums!  

Libraries, universities, halls of fame, historical foundations, and hospitals may be even better fits than the museum you had in mind, depending on your personal affinities and passions.

While preparing this story for ARTIcles by Artifcts, we chatted with Michael Darling, co-founder of the Museum Exchange, “The first digital platform for art donations, which enables collectors to donate works of art to institutions in North America. If you are struggling to find the right institution for your donation, you may want to contact the Museum Exchange. We are intrigued by this new enterprise.

Have a conversation with the (desired) receiving institution.

Find out if the institution is accepting donations, whether your item fits within its current or planned collections, and how often the institution will be able to display the item. You might learn of other conditions of donation, too, such as accompanying one-time or ongoing donations to cover preservation, installation, storage, and other costs.

Be prepared. Details matter. 

Do you have proof of ownership? Where’s the qualified appraisal? What’s the provenance of the item? Where is the item presently located? (Ahem, all information easy to attach to your Artifcts!) 

Inform yourself.

A little self-study never hurts and will help ensure your broader interests and intentions are met. Read up on and consider:

  • What is your timeline? Do you want to donate now, during your lifetime, or via your will and or estate plan posthumorously?  
  • How will you donate, e.g., directly to the institution versus a vehicle such as a donor advised fund or a charitable trust or foundation? 
  • Ideally, do you have any gift conditions in mind? The fewer the better for a smooth process. And does your perspective on any of these conditions change if you consider your aims for the donation during your lifetime versus your direct heirs’ lifetimes versus 100+ years from now? 
  • Would you change your mind if the institution you donate to wants to receive and then sell the piece to use the funds to support its work?
  • If you want to receive a charitable tax deduction for the gift and/or if you plan to donate the gift in your Will or through a charitable vehicle, you should contact your tax and financial advisors early to make sure your wishes (and any tax or other benefits) will be met. 

Be patient.

It’s a process from donation agreement to actual appearance on display, unless terms dictate otherwise, of course! The institution will have its own registration process once they receive the item(s), in addition to potentially undertaking preservation, restoration, and cleaning, before finally adding the item(s) to its collection.

Special Consideration: Are you the creator of the item you plan to donate?

Do you want to donate the piece only or the piece and the copyright? And, again, don’t forget the tax consequences, which change when you're the creator.

With all this in mind, we wish you Happy Artifcting. May your Artifcts make even charitable donations that much simpler!


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Before You Thin Out That Stuffed Animal Collection, Consider What Scientists Have to Say

Why do we have and keep so many stuffed animals to start with? It turns out, this is exactly the right question to be asking as we strive to balance the need to declutter and downsize these fluffy collections and protect our mental health.
In a recent decluttering spree with my daughter, I found myself unexpectedly sentimental over so many stuffed animals that she was ready to part with because I not only remembered when and from whom she got each, but I could picture her toting them around with her, cuddling them on car trips and during naps, and setting them up to play school.  
My conversations with my daughter about these stuffed toys all went something like this:

Me: You don’t want kitty? 
My kid: No, she’s really big. 
Me: But you and your cousin each got one together when we went to Disney. You insisted they watch the fireworks with you. 
My kid: I don’t remember. 
Me: O-kay. [Into the donation bag it goes.]

Imagine my surprise when trying to pick some of the stuffed animals to rehome and donate that I learned about a series of studies, first published back in 2014 in the journal Psychological Science by researchers at VU University Amsterdam that touched on my stuffed animal dilemma. “These toys are more than toys,” I consoled myself.

What Research Tells Us About Stuffed Toys

The research team at VU University Amsterdam investigated how interpersonal touch, including holding a teddy bear, influenced self-esteem in those who are more prone to depression and anxiety. And these are certainly anxious times in the world for us all with global pandemics, extreme weather, and a sea change in the US education system to name a few culprits.

Care Bear Cousins Plush Purple Stuffed Animal - COZY HEART PENGUIN 14"

Some stuffed animals even have “care” built into the name,  
like the Care Bears, popular in the 1980s.
You’ll probably not be surprised to learn that the study confirmed what many of us sense intuitively: touch can calm our fears and anxieties. The study also suggested touch is a means of increasing social connectedness and found that these effects are strongest among those of us who have strong intrinsic motivation.  
I mean, what’s the alternative when you’re on your own? Snuggling up to a digital device? Or, as in the researchers’ study, a cardboard box? We didn’t think so.  
We’re sharing this in hopes you go easy on yourself and your kids when you’re feeling overwhelmed by so much stuff, including stuffed animals. Stuffed toys can play an important role in how we relate to the world and cope with whatever it throws at us.
collection of stuffed bunnies
Some bunnies in this little girl’s collection made the cut, others did not. First, she Artifcted them.

Bonus! Want to learn more about the science of stuffed toys?

If you want to dig into some of the science yourself, check out some of the resources we also explored:

Kid ‘stuff’ on your mind? You may also enjoy these related stories from ARTIcles by Artifcts: 
Pint-Sized Perspective on Decluttering and Moving
15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters
Who Wants This Rocking Chair?

© 2023-2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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How to Artifct That Collection

Capturing Simple to Complex Collections 

Don’t hesitate, dive in! Those collections of wine, dolls, watches, art, stamps, and handbags all have stories to share and will not speak for themselves.  

We’ve learned that Articting collections often relates closely to your motivation, that’s your motivation to collect something in the first place as well as what you would like to one day become of your collection. Is it a casual hobby that brings you joy, an investment that you will sell off in part or whole with time, or is this a passion that you will transfer one day to family or perhaps a philanthropy or foundation of choice?  

See if one of these Artifcting approaches will help you to preserve the ‘why’ and greater ‘value’ and also align with your motivation. 

  • Put on your sentimental hat. Think about the collection this way: If someone were to inherit your collection, are any pieces of particular value to you? Why? Start with these because there’s no time like the present. 
  • Most collections have natural groupings. Start and complete Artifcting for one group before moving on to the next. 
  • Attach inventory lists as “Documentation” in your Artifct and use the Artifct photos and video to go into the true value (market or sentimental), your personal ‘why’ behind the collection, and highlights pertinent to any special pieces in the collection. 
  • Start big, work your way down by taking a video to scan the collection. You can then dedicate a certain amount of time per day, week, or month to add more details to individually Artifct each piece or Artifct together in “like” groupings and add to the description details about individual pieces of the collection. 

Four vintage masks with different facial expressions

A mask collection becomes wall art, with a story. View Artifct.

Don’t forget! 

You can request free valuations after you Artifct an item if you have a paid Artifcts membership so you have more information to decide how to store, distribute, insure, and otherwise manage your piece for the long haul. 

Documentation is your ally. Inventory lists, warranties, certificates of authenticity — the full story you don’t want everyone else who views the Artifct to see... endless possibilities. Attach those documents in the "Documentation" field when creating an Artifct to keep them private and only viewable to you. 

Digital storage is your secret weapon. Artifcting the most revealing family photos to make sure history is not lost? Still have 1000s more where that came from? Digital collections can sit happily where you have them. Simply provide the file path/folder/site information in your Artifct under “Location” so those you give Full Control or pass on your Artifcts too will know where to look for more if they are interested! 


Have another tip or approach for collections?  

Share on social media or write to us at  


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Grandma's Secret, Not-So-Secret Coin Collection

Sometimes collections sneak up on you. You may not realize it as you browse through tin spoons in a souvenir shop, or rummage through stamps at a yard sale. Yet, when you get back home, you might realize as you go to put your newfound treasures away, wow, I have a lot of those spoons, stamps, you name it!  

This is the story of  @Grandmom, and her secret-not-so-secret coin collection.  

Grandmom never set out to collect coins per se. She's a world traveler, and enjoys bartering in local markets, from Kathmandu to Liberia. Grandmom has always found that she can get a great deal if she offers to toss in an American coin or two. And, when she’s lucky, she gets back local coins and currencies.  

Forty years and just as many (if not more) countries later, Grandmom has quite a coin collection. Not just a couple of bowls of coins by her bedside table. Nope, we’re talking bins and bins of coins and currencies from all over the world. Some date back to the 1800s!  

Forty years and just as many (if not more) countries later, Grandmom has quite a coin collection

The funny thing is, she never explicitly told anyone about it. Her grown sons vaguely recall, “Yeah, she might have had a coin collection.” Her grandkids had no clue either. Imagine our surprise one Sunday afternoon when she pulled out the bins (and bins) of coins and asked for help to identify a couple of her favorites as she can no longer remember when or where she got them, “It was so long ago.” 

Got a secret-not-so-secret collection on your hands? Don’t know where to start? Grandmom’s got a couple of tips to share when going through collections that may have snuck up on you over time.  

  1. Start with your favorites. Which ones do you like the most? What can you remember about them? Don’t worry if you can’t remember everything. You can always go back and add more details later. This is one of Grandmom’s favorite coins 
  2. Are there any unique pieces that you think others should know about? Grandmom has all the stories in her head, but she’s started to Artifct some of the more unique pieces of her collection to make sure that her family knows the details, like these Victory nickels 
  3. Pair travel photos with coins from that location to tell the story. It’s a great way to connect the “what” (the coin) with the experience (the trip, the memories). Can’t remember the exact details? Knowing just the trip and some of your favorite memories from that trip is easily enough to tell the story and connect the dots.  

Have a surprise collection to share? We’d love to feature you! Reach out to us at 

Happy Artifcting! 


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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