The Best Books about American Antique Furniture

shelved under Americana and Hobbies

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.

 

Fake, Fraud, or Genuine?: Identifying Authentic American Antique Furniture

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.

 

Field Guide to American Antique Furniture: A Unique Visual System for Identifying the Style of Virtually Any Piece of American Antique Furniture

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.

 

Miller's Antiques Encyclopedia

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."

 

Emyl Jenkins' Appraisal Book: Identifying, Understanding, and Valuing Your Treasures

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.

 

Objects of Desire: The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them

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.

 

Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture

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

 

Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2010-2011

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.

 

Stealing with Style

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.

 

The Big Steal

by Emyl Jenkins

This is another book in Jenkins' Sterling Glass series... see the description of the book immediately above.