Antiques & Collecting Newsletter Volume 3, Number 8 U.S. Library of Congress ISSN: #1521-1827 October 1, 1998 Ron McCoy, editor []

A FEW GOOD BOOKS by Dan Simmons []

The arrival by post a few days ago of the October edition of a catalog of listings from a major publisher of reference books and price guides on antiques and collectibles provided less enthusiasm than one's arrival would have generated a few years ago. As a collector, as a dealer, and as an appraiser and estate sale agent, my varying interests and needs have justified my amassing a fair-sized reference library. Though I suppose I knew that I would never be satisfied with its completeness, especially in acquiring scarcer out- of-print books, the last few years the market has been so inundated with new publications that the arrival of each new catalog makes me want to scream "Uncle!" Approaching the listings with an enforced calm does help to deal with the jumble somewhat though. Eliminating such publications as the 27th series on "Fingernail Clippers for Fun and Profit" or "The Wonderful World of the Window Latch" or the last "most comprehensive" reference about almost anything does bring the choices into a manageable number from which to select. Even after having labored through the selections, however, the question still remains, "How well does this reference/guide fulfill its intended purpose?" Unless one actually has the book in hand, it is often impossible to tell. Those of you who have bought many reference books, may have likely encountered one or more where the hundreds of photos are actually variations on a relatively few items--or the history and background information, which comprises two-thirds of the book, recounts primarily deadly boring business details of the company. For some time I have wished that there were a comprehensive source of reasonably objective reviews of antique and collectibe price guides and reference books. Until then though, we will have to rely on our luck in discovering reliable information or take our chances. There are three new references that I have recently acquired that I think are quite good and would recommend to anyone with an interest in the areas of the dolls and toys which they cover.

These three books are published by Antique Trader Books and are available online at: I chose these three references for general purposes in selling and appraising since I do not collect any of these items. I was very impressed with their clarity and ease of use and somewhat surprised to find myself easily engaged in the effective prose style of the text.

--> "Marionettes and String Puppets Collector's Reference Guide" by Daniel E. Hodges This 168-page reference/guide is the first to explore exclusively marionettes and string puppets. Mr. Hodges' interest in researching marionettes began when his wife bought three at auction and they were unable to find much information on them, as opposed to items in their other active collections. The book is a substantial 8" x 11" volume and at least three-fourths of the approximately 500 pictures are in color, with excellent detail (others are catalog or magazine reprints). The book is quite attractive and easy to use. Short well-written essays at the first give a history of marionettes and string puppets, of the most important points on collecting them, on how to care for collections, on how to buy and sell them, etc. The book is organized by manufacturer with a brief, clear synopsis of each company/individual. Under each picture is a concise description and the current retail price. Aside from its value as a reference this is also a charming book. It seems to me that many of the more common examples are still quite inexpensive; these are collectibles that I should think will escalate considerably in the near future. The book is well-priced at $24.95 retail.