While mentally working through the favorite trap/puzzle post (which never appeared), I came up with a way of presenting magic items so that a solo adventurer should learn how to identify something about magic items over time. I assume that the solo adventurer is not a magic-user. My solo games, meaning 1 GM and 1 Player, usually feature a Fighter or a Thief. The system worked really well for a Thief, as it make a lot of sense for the class.
All magic items have a few glyphs on them and a word. As the player gets more familiar with the symbols and decoding the words, they will become better at estimating the particular magic an item has.
Essentially, magic effects are broken up into eight categories: Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necormancy and Transmutation. (I'm sure you recognize these as D&D's traditional schools of magic.) Each categories has its own unique glyph or symbol.
The magical category also determines the first and last letters of a code word that appears on the magic item. For example, any magic item with a Evocation effect will have a word that starts with the letter "m" and ends with the letter "r". The more powerful the item, the more letters appear between the first and last letters. For example, a scroll with a Light spell would have the code word mar while a staff that generates fireballs would be mentafer.
I'll get a pdf up of the entire system, soon. I plan on using Lorc Icons for symbols and a word generator for the rest. For the DIY folks (aren't we all, though?), here a link to get you started from the S&W Companion: