Today I’m going to bring you a resource guide unlike the previous ones we’ve had. I usually focus on websites (particularly free ones!) that can help both collectors and sellers find what they’re looking for. On this fine Monday, however, I bring to you…this:
It’s a book! How archaic. How simple. How…awesome!
Books are a great resource when it comes to buying and selling antiques and collectibles. One of the drawbacks is that they often go out of date fairly quickly and will need to be updated. It’s also hard to lug them around and if you’re anything like us, you can quickly gain a library’s worth of them.
But, on the plus side, books are reliable. Anyone on the internet can slap together a website these days and pretend that they’re an expert. But books like this one are usually written by a specialist and distributed through a publishing house with a solid reputation for quality. Although mistakes are bound to be made, you can pretty much guarantee that the information within its pages is correct.
This particular book is one we just recently came across. As you probably know by now, my favorite designer of costume jewelry is Sarah Coventry. We have some general books on costume jewelry, but since we deal with a few designers more frequently than others, I thought it’d be worth the investment to go ahead and purchase a book about a more specific topic. (And, luckily, The Wallet agreed.)
This book is titled Emmons & Sarah Coventry Jewelry Fashion Show, by Deborah A. Robinson. It’s a “Schiffer book for designers and collectors, with price guide.” The first part of the book deals with Emmons jewelry, which was the sister company to Sarah Coventry. This section gives a history of the company, examples of all different kinds of jewelry, and pages from catalogs.
The next section is all about Sarah Coventry. You can find more history here, more examples, and more catalog pages. Later sections also deal in international jewelry, pieces from the 1980s and 1990s, and Home Shopping Network jewelry. Finally, you can find a glossary, bibliography, and an index.
There are three particular things I like about this book:
This book is just full of so many great pictures. As I always say in our Word of the Week posts, a description or a definition is a great thing…but pictures are even better. Nothing compares to actually being able to look at a piece of jewelry and find its match within a book. All doubt is removed and you know you’ve found the right item.
There are pictures on nearly every page here, and probably more images of jewelry than there are words. This isn’t a drawback, however – it’s an asset! They’ve also set it up so that bunches of similar jewelry (for example, you can find cameo necklaces on page 81) are all on the same page. It makes searching for something really specific even easier!
By far my favorite thing about this book are the names and descriptions that are provided to just about every piece of jewelry. If you flip to page 74, there’s a large picture of several pairs of earrings on a bright pink display. Below this is a simple list of each earring. It gives the name of the piece and a nice description of what it looks like, plus what the maker’s mark looks like, when it was made, and roughly what it’s worth.
This is extremely helpful to sellers – not for the price range (which I only use as a VERY loose estimation of value), but for the name and the dates. These two snippets of information are probably more important than your description (as long as you have pictures!) because certain buyers are looking for specific pieces – either by name or by decade. These are excellent key words to use in your listing title.
Not a lot of people utilize the last section of a book – the one filled with glossaries, indexes, and bibliographies. But this can sometimes be even more useful than the content of a book. This particular volume does have a glossary, which is great if you’re still learning the terms associated with costume jewelry. It also has an index, which is a quick way of looking up particular pieces of jewelry or styles.
But – and perhaps this is the most underutilized part – the bibliography is often ignored. I love bibliographies! They’re great for following up with additional reading on a subject, or broadening your knowledge on a more general topic. For example, the bibliography in this book lists others that are about Emmons and Sarah Coventry, but also about collectible jewelry in general. No one book can hold all the information relevant to a topic, so it’s important to follow the trail – if you like the book you’re holding, then chances are you’ll like its source material as well.
What book do you have in your library that you couldn’t live without? Have you ever used these Schiffer books before?