Well, I’m still getting used to blogging on WordPress, but while I get a few ideas together, I thought it would be helpful (and easy from my point of view) to throw a few links together with some antiques books which I’ve found useful. It’s filler in terms of blogroll, but hopefully you’ll find these links and descriptions useful. The links lead through to Amazon.co.uk pages, but I believe these are all published internationally and should be available elsewhere…
Millers Antiques Encyclopedia is a very useful reference and introduction to basic antiques knowledge. It covers all of the essential categories (furniture, glass & pottery, silver, and so on), describing periods and their related styles. A very helpful start.
Jackson’s Hallmarks (Pocket Edition) is essential for anyone wanting to date and identify pieces of silver from the UK and Republic of Ireland. It is very clear and easy to use. It may not have exhaustive lists of silversmiths but it is the most useful for identifying dates of assay. It lists cycles of date hallmarks clearly, running from the very first hallmarks right through to the 1990s (when the date letter’s inclusion became elective rather than mandatory). You can find a couple of useful links for finding silversmiths on my links / resources page.
Jackson’s Silver and Gold Marks is a much larger volume, and I find it a little more difficult to use than the pocket edition. It’s laid out in a very different way which seems a lot less instinctive to my modern tech-age brain. Its use requires a lot more cross-referencing between the index and content than the pocket edition, and it doesn’t give more modern silversmiths (only listing into the very early 20th century). Having said that, it is useful for “proper” antique pieces of silver and is quite a heavy tome. While I certainly use the pocket edition more often, I do occasionally find myself turning to the masterwork, hence its inclusion here.
Miller’s Antiques Handbook and Price Guide is published every year. I’ve not usually bothered to buy these every year, but I have bought the current (2012-13) issue and am delighted with it. It has changed its format from the older copies which I have, becoming more of a handbook rather than just a price guide. It features reviews of how particular markets are performing, pieces to look out for and “case studies” of particularly fine examples in each of the categories. In comparison to the older format, they’re obviously making a concerted effort to offer more useful descriptions, rather than splattering scrappy photos onto a page with a handful of words and a price. I will certainly be buying a copy of this every year, based on its current format.