Today’s our first Book Review Sunday, where I’ll go over some good – and not so good – reference books about elegant or depression glass. Today it is Gene and Cathy Florence’s Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, which is the last in this best-selling series. I’ve read that Florence’s ongoing series of books, updated every 2-3 years since the early 1970s, are best sellers in the collector / hobby genre, and I can believe it based on my experience.
This latest – and last – offering in Florence’s series is the 19th edition. The changes from #18 are minor. Florence added no new patterns; some of the photos are new but by no means all. The prices for many patterns were adjusted, mostly downwards.
Positives for the Book
- Florence has detailed piece lists, many with dimensions. This is very helpful if you need to decide whether your piece is the dinner plate or chop plate.
- Florence includes his observations about the pattern, whether it sells well or has reproductions or how common it is, for each pattern. Most of these are interesting; some are entertaining. In this edition I noticed fewer comments of the “seller didn’t know what they had” type which is an improvement.
- The text explains some of the confusing pieces and gives detailed dimensions. I have a big set of Patrician to list and relied on Florence’s clear description to decide whether I had jam dishes, cereal bowls or butter bottoms.
- He mentions patterns that have been reproduced in the body and gives more details in the back section. He covers each pattern that has been reproduced clearly and gives tips to distinguish real from repro.
- This 19th edition, like the last few, has piece guides and photo legends which is great. After selling glass for over 10 years I don’t need this quite so much, but if this had been available when I first started it would have been great. As it is, some patterns have goofy shapes that become clear with the photo legend.
- Lots of color pictures.
- Price. Amazon lists this for $16.47, and if you can find another $9 book or what have you, you get free shipping. Florence stressed that he and Collectors Books worked hard to keep the book affordable and it certainly is reasonable for all the quality information.
Not So Positive
- The repro section gives good information but shows photos of the repros. It would be more useful if it included side-by-side photos with the comparisons. Of course this would have taken more pages and probably increased the price. Personally I’d have gladly paid another few dollars for this.
- Photos are good for the most part. There are a few where a close up would have been helpful. Confusing patterns, like Old Cafe vs. Fortune, would be easier to tell apart with detailed pattern shots.
- Like any price guide this is user beware. I’ve written before about my Eureka moments about price guides. You simply cannot take these as gospel truth. Do your research and know what your business strategy is when you set your own prices whether buying or selling.
- One canard this book should dispel is that there is any relationship between Florence’s price lists and whether he is buying or selling. Since he retired this year he is most likely in a selling mode – and his prices are mostly down. Like any successful person Florence attracted his share of criticism, both real and not. This is one nasty story that can be put to bed.
If you collect, buy or sell vintage glass, you need this book. Even if you do not collect or sell depression glass, it is useful to know what you see when you see it. And if you do collect or sell depression glass this is essential. Buy the book.
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