BUILDING A LIBRARY
Collecting antiques can be fun, but it can be even more enjoyable to track down details of who made your favourite piece. Dealers can help but there is nothing quite like having the information at your fingertips in a reference book.
As well as collecting antiques in your chosen field, you should start to build up a small library of selected books.
There is a huge selection of books on antiques on the market at the moment. Museums and art galleries often sell books of interest to collectors, while public libraries should have a fair selection; some counties have one library that specializes in books on antiques. Non-specialist bookshops can be disappointing in their stock, but second-hand specialist book dealers often have a very good selection, although you may have to pay a high price for an out-of-print hook.
So where do you start? Perhaps the first hook to buy is one on marks. This will tell you who made your treasure and where and when.
Collectors of ceramics need Encyclopaedia
of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks by Geoffrey A Godden, regarded by devotees as their 'bible', and containing over 4000 marks; a small pocket edition is also available.
of European Porcelain: Marks, Makers, and Factories by Ludwig Dankaert is a must for collectors of European china, while an even more comprehensive (and expensive) guide is
Marks on German, Bohemian and Austrian Porcelain: 1710 To the Present by Rontgen.
These books will help with general collections, but books on specific subjects abound, such as the
Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery by A W Coysh & R K Henrywood or
Collecting Victorian Tiles With Price Guide by T A Lockett.
of British Cups by Michael Berthoud will help with identification and dating. Other books concentrate on single factories, such as Worcester, Minton and Wedgwood, Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper and Crown Devon.
The identification of glass is not always so easy. Pressed glass is covered admirably by
Glass 1800-1914 by Charles R Hajdamach - a very comprehensive title. Austrian, Scandinavian, Italian, Bohemian and Venetian glass are covered in individual books, as are designers such as Loetz, Galle and
Lalique, and some products such as paperweights and drinking.
An American book by Anne Geffken Pullin called Glass
Signatures, Trademarks and Trade Names: From the Seventeenth to the Twentieth
Century is also useful.
For collectors of precious metals, a book of hallmarks is essential. These range from an adequate pocket edition costing a few dollars, to an expensive two-volume set of
Directory of Gold and Silversmiths: Jewellers and Allied Traders 1838-1914
Another 'bible' is Treen
and other wooden bygones an encyclopaedia and social history by Edward Pinto, which covers small wooden collectables.
Furniture is admirably dealt with by Ralph Edwards in
Dictionary of English Furniture (three volumes). John Andrews has written two compreheusive books. The
Guide to Antique Furniture and Price
Guide to Victorian, Edwardian and 1920s Furniture - both profusely illustrated. Designers like Sheraton, Hepplewhite and Chippendale are all dealt with in specific books.
BOOKS ON DOLLS
Dolls and toys are very comprehensively covered. Apart from the encyclopeadia-type books, there are specialist books such as
by Constance King and Patricia Smith's Album
of All Bisque Dolls: Identification and Value Guide.
Comparatively recent dolls are covered by The
Collectible Barbie Doll: An Illustrated Guide to Her Dreamy World. Shirley Temple dolls, Raggedy Ann dolls, and Merrythought teddy bears have also been written about.
The current edition of Blue
Book Dolls & Values by Foulke is a must for collectors. The Collector's
History of Doll's Houses: Doll House Dolls and Miniatures by Constance King is regarded as the definitive work. There are also books on battery toys, Disney collectable , and plastic toys. Books on diecast toys include titles on Dinky, Corgi and Lesney. John Ramsay's Catalogue of British Die Cast Models includes a price guide.
Price guides can be invaluable for recognition and dating, as well as giving you an approximate valuation of your treasures. Miller's
Price Guide 2003, Miller's Collectibles
Price Guide and Lyle
Official Antiques Review and Kovels'
Antiques & Collectibles Price List 2003 by Kovel Ralph are all issued annually and are comprehensively illustrated general price guides. More specific price guides are available on subjects as diverse as coins, comics, Goss china, crested china, Beswick and Royal Doulton character jugs and figures.
Books on antiques and collectables cover a huge range: militaria, golf, radios, corkscrews, nautical antiques, cameras, scientific instruments, lace, textiles, carpets and juke boxes. There is even a book on German telephone cards with prices. And there are also books on collecting books!