The Seasoned Collector: Best gift books for antiques collectors
By Steven Wayne Yvaska
The Seasoned Collector
11/29/2012 10:00:00 AM PST
11/30/2012 07:46:39 AM PST
For some folks, Kindles and Nooks rule. But I'm an old-fashioned guy. I like holding a real book. With this in mind, here's my annual roundup of works meant to please the antiques hound on your holiday gift list.
Even with the growth of the Internet, most people who collect antiques like having a price guide handy. My favorite is "Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2013" by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, $27.95, 736 pages). The weighty paperback has more than 40,000 entries for objects in 700 categories featuring 2,500 full-color photos. You can't go wrong giving this book as a present.
Working at his family's used-book store, Michael Popek frequently finds bits of paper scribbled with a recipe tucked inside the cookbooks purchased for resale. He has compiled many of these oft-stained recipes from the 1930s to 1950s into an endearing, intimate book: "Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller's Collection of Curious and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages" (Perigee, $20, 193 pages). I was taken with the recipe for "chef meat sauce" hastily written in pencil on the front and back of a blank restaurant guest check. It's a recipe I'm eager to try.
Nowadays, collectors are all atwitter about the design style popular from the 1940s into the early '70s. It is the chief reason why "Mid-Century Modern: Living With Mid-Century Modern Design" by Judith Miller (Octopus, $39.99, 256 pages) will surely be one of the most welcome additions to anyone's reference library. This hardback is generously illustrated with more than 500 photos that highlight the furniture, glass, ceramics, textiles and metals designed by geniuses including Georg Jensen, Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen plus other artists now discussed with hushed reverence.
Reading "Instant: The Story of Polaroid" by Christopher Bonanos (Princeton, $24.95, 192 pages) rekindled memories of Polaroid's Instamatic camera for me. And I think it will do the same for legions of others who were also mesmerized back in the day by this cool gizmo, one of America's greatest inventions. You'll learn about the company and the camera's inventor, Edwin Land, a visionary who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I found that Ansel Adams and Andy Warhol were among the first fans of the amazing piece of technology.
If you have a fondness for vintage ephemera, or send invitations, letters or cards via "snail mail" rather than over the Internet, you will genuinely enjoy "The Complete Engraver: Monograms, Crests, Ciphers, Seals, and the Etiquette of Social Stationery" penned by Nancy Sharon Collins (Princeton, $29.95, 224 pages). The book is jam-packed with sundry details concerning the art of engraving and showcases a fantastic array of fonts. The author includes a nifty glossary that provides the definition of a "burin" or "monarch sheet."
Twenty years ago, what we know as costume jewelry was referred to as "junk jewelry." Luckily, times have changed. We have come to appreciate the stellar designs and superior workmanship of many of these nonprecious baubles, whether signed or unsigned by their maker. Once again, prolific author Judith Miller has quite a bit to do with enlightening us. The recent release of the "mini" edition of her noteworthy treatise "Costume Jewelry" (Octopus, $19.99, 256 pages) enables collectors to identify grandmother's trinkets, or a fabulous flea-market find.
Devoted fans of Hollywood memorabilia have long had a special spot in their hearts for the idolized fashion icon, humanitarian and gifted actress Audrey Hepburn. "Audrey Hepburn: A Charmed Life," written by film scholar Robyn Karney, (Arcade, $24.95, 192 pages) is filled with 177 shots of the acclaimed star who to this day personifies beauty. Another work for "those wonderful people out there in the dark" -- as Gloria Swanson referred to film zealots in "Sunset Boulevard" -- is "Classic Hollywood Style" by Caroline Young (Frances Lincoln, $29.95, 224 pages). I was enraptured by each of the 180 glamorous photographs in this treatise -- a must-have for movie enthusiasts.
"Magnificent" best describes the hefty volume "Classical Chinese Furniture" written by Marcus Flacks (Vendome, $85, 280 pages). This book is a commanding overview of the exquisite Chinese furniture crafted from the 16th through 18th centuries. The fascinating text is accompanied by 200 jaw-dropping photographs that feature the kind of objects in heavy demand by well-heeled collectors both in this country and in China. The coffee-table-sized work is for individuals enamored with an aesthetic that has ruled for centuries -- and will surely last across time.
I have long been a believer that there cannot be a soul alive who would not want to own a lighting fixture made by the fabled Tiffany workshop. "The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany," by Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen (Vendome, $35, 224 pages), offers a dazzling roundup of some of the beauties. The lamps -- many are on view for the first time -- are shown in full glory by gifted New York photographer Colin Cooke. This is "eye candy" at its very best.
I was deeply touched by a most extraordinary new work that is destined to become a yuletide classic. "The Lost Christmas Gift," sensitively written by Andrew Beckman (Princeton, $29.95, 40 pages), is a book within a book. It tells the remarkable story of a superbly handcrafted tome sent to a boy by his mapmaker dad deployed to Europe during World War II. The parcel, however, gets lost in the mail. Seven decades later, it arrives -- to the stupendous joy of the recipient. Like me, you will marvel at this tale. And perhaps have a tear in your eye by book's end.