I bought this book as a gift for a person that wants to start collectiong antiques. Needless to say that she found the book a great source of information and was exactly what she was looking for. The book has various topics from ceramics to posters including books and furniture. Its a must have for anyone that needs to gain an idea of the market price of the objects and has useful tips.
I think it's safe to say that the Antiques Encyclopedia is now the standard reference book for the trade and general reader. This latest edition updates price values and the Where to buy pages. Two things impressed me about the book: the excellent coverage and the beautiful look of the pages.
The Contents has seventeen chapters but turn over the page and there's a spread with a further breakdown of these. For example Ceramics has over a hundred sections, Furniture has fifty-four, Art Nouveau seventeen. This is a world-wide look too, not just Europe and America but antique pottery from Asia, Oriental rugs and carpets and near the end of the book several pages on Oriental art: metalwork; carvings; lacquerware; jade; ivory. The back of the book has a comprehensive twenty-three page Index.
Each chapter begins with a Basics spread or two, very useful if you haven't an overall clue about Clocks and Watches or maybe the Arts and Crafts Movement. I knew nothing about Oriental rugs before I read the useful Basics on page 316! The amount of information in these pages can be a bit overwhelming but each section is broken down to clearly headlined text and things like Key Facts (which pop up on most spreads) get their own light blue coloured panel.
I mentioned the look of the pages. With just over three thousand colour photos, mostly a very reasonable size, these look inviting and interesting (from my experience books from other publishers for collectors suffer from images of varying quality which make their pages look dull) the text is in a readable type, all the captions start with a little arrow pointing to the object. These are actually quite busy pages but all the elements blend together so that a reader easily gets to the required information. I do have a little niggle though, all the items have a value letter (A under £100/$160 to U £1/$1 million) and the key is on page thirteen which requires a lot of turning to if you're curious about a value. Maybe these, perhaps every alternate letter/value, could have been printed in the margin on each spread or incorporated into the book's end-papers in some way.
I think it's worth mentioning the scope of the book. Reading reviews of past editions several commented on the lack of modern items. Judith Miller, in the Intro, suggests that antique now refers to anything up to and including the Second World War. Items after that should probably be called Collectables. The book does have a chapter on Mid-century modern and Postmodernism. For these items Miller's have published a separate book: 'Mid-century modern' and for more down-market items: 'Collectables handbook 2012-2013'.
Overall I thought this was a remarkable reference book that really can't be faulted but be warned that once you start looking up something in these pages you'll find it's easy to get distracted by related items and several pages later you'll realise you've spend a very pleasant hour or so and know a lot more too.
this is a really excellent volume and both my wife and I have enjoyed dipping into it since receiving it. we would both recommend it to anyone with an interest in antiques. One, of course,realizes it cannot really do more than touch the surface of such a vast subject as British antiques alone, but it nevertheless is a fascinating volume full of information.
This book was purchased as a gift for my son-in-law who has a passion for collecting. Just flicking through the pages one can't but help be impressed by this beautiful work, however, I'm not qualified to say whether it's a publication for everyone involved in collecting antiques. It's a reasonably priced book, well illustrated and I think good value for money.