Whether you collect glass or just enjoy buying a piece from time to time, it's more fun when you have an idea what you are buying. It can also save you a few headaches to have some knowledge about collectible glass and you may save yourself some money too. The Georgian tumbler photographed above is a good example. Wouldn't you like to know that this is a valuable piece if you spot one at an estate sale? Or to know that the water tumbler does not have any birds on it? This post looks at a few depression glass books. These collectors guides are meant to help you identify depression glass and to have an idea of approximate value. Book prices in these guides are wrong but they still give you an idea which patterns and colors are more or less costly.
First one is my favorite by author Gene Florence. You can get an idea of this book's influence on glass lovers when you see that this last volume is the 19th edition. Mr. Florence retired due to health reasons after writing this last edition, ending a career that began in the 1970s. He has had a tremendous influence on glass collectors and the overall antiques market. He helped popularize depression glass, researched many patterns and pieces, and publicized reproductions and fakes to educate us.
What makes this larger encyclopedia so useful are the good photos, fairly complete piece lists and color information. Mr. Florence provides a close up shot and one or more group photos. Each piece photographed has a legend to help you recognize which piece it is. When you first encounter a pattern that is important, believe me.
He includes interesting write up about each pattern. Some of the write ups will give directions on how to tell confusing pieces apart or how to spot fakes. For example Florence explains the difference between the Patrician jam dish and the cereal bowl. (Personally I don't have a separate bowl for jam so I was glad to see the write up!)
My only unhappiness with the books are that prices are way off and that the section on fakes sometimes has photos of the fakes without the real ones to compare. On a few patterns I noticed pieces missing, such as the cloverleaf shaped relish in Queen Mary, but those are trivial.
Overall Rating: A
This next book is also by Florence and serves a different purpose. This book is small enough to fit in your purse - I keep one in my car - and gives a good photo and partial price and color list. It includes popular patterns from the 1940s-70s too.
My problem with this book is that it omits several colors. For instance Hocking made Princess in green, pink and topaz. This omits the topaz which is a shame. Topaz is the least expensive of the three but you would not know that by this book.
Overall Rating: B
This next book is another pocket guide but it has an awkward shape, taller and thicker and it's harder to use. Barbara Mauzy has written several other guides, including a more encyclopedic one on depression glass. On the plus side this has good photos which are clustered in the center of the book for easy comparison. Piece lists are good and the section on fakes is first rate.
Ms. Mauzy contributes to different online forums and is helpful and willing to share her knowledge.
I just don't care for the style as much but this book has been in print for 12 years so other people must like it.
I am familiar with an older version of this next book. It is fantastic if you are new to depression glass because it shows the patterns in clear line drawings. Not only are the patterns a joy to see this way - they truly are beautiful - you can identify the design much easier. Much much easier.
I cannot comment on the price lists since my experience was with an older edition.
This last book is a classic and completely unlike either of the others. There are no prices and the author assumes you have her earlier edition. This is a superb reference if you are like me and enjoy buying the odd piece so you can have some fun researching it.
Colored Glassware of the Depression Era, Book 2
Ms. Weatherman has an engaging writing style and gives interesting tidbits about the companies and some patterns. This is the book to get for a compedium on all sorts of obscure patterns. I recently sold a green cake plate that - sure enough - was in HMW2.
I'll continue with more book reviews over the next few weeks. This is the last one for now since it is time to get back to glass!
The links and photos are from Amazon and I get a small commission if you click through and purchase something.
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