The young lady enters our stall at the antique show, and looks around for a few minutes before spotting a Candlewick 7″ ice tub in the back corner. Out comes her iPhone and with the help of the Internet finds one for sale near the same price we have on ours. She weighs the ability to carefully inspect the one in hand, and the advantage of instant gratification plus the savings of not paying for shipping and she purchases our item. It was a good method to do a quick analysis of value, and one we use often before selling an item. But our knowing what we have and correctly labeling it, whether offered at an antique show or on the Internet, often requires special knowledge.
For me, I’m addicted to collector books. Our library of these books has well over one hundred different copies–some purchased early on and proved to be too broad and not deep into any one subject. I soon learned the value in spending money on great books. By now, many are well worn to the point of having loose covers, and several have been replaced with more updated versions. Most of these books have price guides, but with an ever-changing market, I only use the prices as a loose reference, adjusted for current trends in collecting and the economy. One style of compote listed at twice the price in ruby red as it is in clear will most likely be worth about twice as much in the future.
I pulled out six books that happened to be in the book case closest to my desk, indicating recent use. They are favorites because of their helpfulness for both collectors and sellers.
Here is the list. The first two are from the same author, Mr. Gene Florence.
- Elegant Glassware of the Depression Era, ninth edition ©2001
- The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, eleventh edition©1994
- Kovel’s New Dictionary of Marks, by Ralph & Terry Kovel, ©1986
- McKeown’s Cameras, by James & Joan McKeown ©1998 10th edition
- Antique Hardware by H. Weber Wilson ©1999
- U.S. Marks on Pottery & China by Lois Lehner ©1988
McKeown’s book is indexed by manufacturer and filled with pictures. Cameras are listed chronologically and in a book that contains over 600 pages, it has great visual and descriptive detail.
Kovel’s and Lehner’s books feature copies of makers’ marks and give production dates and company locations. Kovel’s book has better readability for me and a better index in back, but they cover different parts of the world.
Wilson’s book on antique hardware is very useful in identifying the style and period the hardware was produced, and gives insight into the building styles of the 1800s.
Gene Florence’s books are a constant companion to identify the manufacturer and pattern as glass from that period was not marked.
Each of these books have great value in identifying an item, its maker, style, period of production and special features. All have good indexing and visual presentations. One book that I’m still searching for is an earlier edition of the Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass. Strangely, the older version had black and white photos, but in black and white the patterns were easier to discern.
As an example of a recent need for one of the books, Wifey had an elegant stemmed champagne glass she judged to be Cambridge from the Depression era. How to be sure before selling it? A quick look in the back of the Elegant Glass book where the stems are shown by manufacturer. There it was, produced by Cambridge Glass in the Depression era, the page showed a very distinctive stem pattern and confirmed the name of the manufacturer.
While no longer useful as price guides, the wealth of information sitting next to my desk in these six (and many of the other) books will help in giving identity and age to all the different types of antiques and collectibles we deal with on a daily basis.