It's a ritual repeated every weekend in cities and towns across the country: as Saturday morning dawns, antique hunters converge upon yard sales, antique malls, flea markets, and swap meets. These tenacious folks scrutinize every piece of old furniture they can find, pulling out drawers, turning things upside down. They are not beyond crawling on the ground. The following books offer an overview of what these people are looking for. Developing an eye for antiques takes years of practice, but a little book smarts goes a long way.
by Myrna Kaye
This easy-to-read and well illustrated manual, tells step-by-step how to identify legitimate antiques from reproduction pieces. Kaye tells what to look for, where to look, and how to process the information you uncover. You'll be crawling on the floor with those savvy collectors in no time.
by Joseph T. Butler, illustrated by Ray Skibinski
Butler's Field Guide offers an extensive overview of the many different styles of American furniture from the 17th century to mid-century modern. It includes a detailed summary of each era's distinguishing characteristics and line drawings illustrating the differences between the various styles.
edited by Judith Miller
Judith Miller has written many useful books on antiques, but she is perhaps best known for her Antiques Encyclopedia. I recently heard an antique dealer refer to it as "priceless."
by Emyl Jenkins
Renowned antiques appraiser Emyl Jenkins takes you on a journey through your own home, explaining how to assess your treasured pieces. She discusses practical details including how to inventory and insure your collection.
by Thatcher Freund
If you've caught the antiquing bug, you should not miss this history of the American market for high-end antiques and how it exploded at the end of the twentieth century. It's a competitive world in which determined collectors stop at nothing to get their hands on a prized piece.
by Leslie Keno, Leigh Keno, Joan Barzilay Freund
Twin brothers Leigh and Leslie Keno of the hit PBS series "Antiques Roadshow" tell how they were raised on antiquing and became top experts in the field. They reminisce about their most fascinating finds and offer an invaluable behind-the-scenes look at the business side of the antiques world
by Judith Miller
I am generally not a fan of price guides. The chances of finding a specific item are slim, and the prices typically are out of date as soon as the books are published. (Online data tends to be much more useful for researching up-to-date valuations.) But, price guides do have their merits. Miller's, in particular, can be a useful tool for identifying items and obtaining a general idea of what they might be worth. Don't feel compelled to buy a brand new guide every year. Even the out-of-date editions are useful.
by Emyl Jenkins
Jenkins put her years of experience in the antiques business to good use in this series of mystery novels about a fictional appraiser named Sterling Glass. Not only are the stories fun reads—The New York Times called Stealing with Style "delightful"—Jenkins educates the reader along the way with her insider's knowledge. Sadly, Jenkins passed away in 2010 before finishing the third installment in the series.
by Emyl Jenkins
This is another book in Jenkins' Sterling Glass series... see the description of the book immediately above.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Ellen F. Brown
Ellen F. Brown is an award-winning freelance writer known for her stories about bookish subjects. A former rare book dealer and appraiser, she has taught classes on collecting at the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University. Author of Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, you can follow Ellen on Twitter for all things GWTW-related.
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