Last post we talked about how important good reference books are whether you are a casual collector or serious. With a good book you know what you have.
Today let’s see what features to look for in glass books and sadly, what to be wary of in any book.
- Good books will have clear photos that show the pattern and the shapes of individual pieces. Is the pattern square? Do all the pieces have scallops on the rim? Good guides will show this.
- Really good books will show close up photos of the design. There are so many etchings that are similar, it’s valuable to get an up close picture.
- You’ll have a write up that explains key points about the pattern. For example, Hocking’s Fortune and Old Cafe depression glass patterns look alike in line drawings. How can you tell them apart? The better books will explain confusing patterns like this. (Fortune is the pink glass pictured.)
- It’s helpful to have individual pieces explained. What’s the difference between the cream soup and the sugar? Or the butter dish and the cheese dish? Gene Florence included legends to identify specific pieces in his later editions; that is helpful.
- It’s important to describe any reproductions and give directions to tell real from fake. Some books show pictures of the fakes, but unless you have the real one to compare it to the photos are not much help.
- You need dimensions, ideally height and capacity for stemware, width for plates and bowls. I recently bought a Rose Point wine described as the cordial – had I checked the height I’d have known what I was getting. You’ll find a gazillion sherbets described as wine goblets or cordials, so check the heights, capacities and general shape.
- Lists of colors, pieces available, interesting information, production dates so on. After all, we got the books because we have the glass and we have the glass because we like it! We want to read about it.
Not So Good Features
- Sadly the price lists are rough guides at best. I can tell you from painful experience that some pieces are woefully under priced and others are so overpriced you wonder what the author was dreaming. When I started selling glass I thought book prices were gospel. After I sold a few rare pieces of Duncan Sandwich for “book value” within seconds of listing them, I got the niggling suspicion that was silly.
- Not everything in a book is valuable, desirable or even particularly available. It is an unfortunate truth that some patterns you just cannot give away and also true that some patterns are so hard to find that you could go years without seeing more than a couple pieces, even on line. Do a bit of homework before you fall in love with a glass pattern. (I have to take my own advice here!)
- Every once in a while authors say things that are just plain misleading or incomplete. A good example is Hocking Princess. Books mention that the reproduction candy jars have smooth feet. The better books mention that Hocking made two styles, one with rayed foot and one with smooth foot, and that the only one that was reproduced has the smooth foot.
Next post in this series will review some of the better glass books out there for you.