The Best Books on Antiques and Collectibles

Our favorite is Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2022

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Best Books on Antiques

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When it comes to antiques and other collectibles, it’s wise to have a thorough and accurate source to help guide your purchases.

We researched the best books on antiques and collectibles, looking for accuracy, readability, and affordability. Our top selection, Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2022, was written by a widely acclaimed expert mother-daughter collector team, is easy to understand, and is easily accessible and available at a great price.

Here are the best books on antiques and collectibles:

Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2022

Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2022

Amazon

What We Like
  • Highly reputable source

  • Excellent photos for reference

  • Kovels’ site includes a free gift of two eBooks with purchase

What We Don't Like
  • Some novice readers were confused by descriptions and index

This is an updated version of Kovels’ 2016 guide, featuring the actual prices of 12,500 items gathered from last year’s actual sales—not the estimates many other guides use. Written by the mother and daughter team of lifelong collectors Terry and Kim Kovel, the guide is one of over 100 books they’ve created. Ideal for the beginner to the master collector, readers can look forward to current info and tips on the hottest antiques and collectibles of the day, as well as 3,000 color photos for reference. 

Named as national authorities on antiques and collectibles by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and House Beautiful, Kovels’ books set the standard for guides on collecting. It's available at many retailer sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kovels’ own website, where readers can find this book at a reasonable price.

Readers can look forward to the highlights and history of pieces not only from high-end UK sources as found in most guides, but many from international, American, and other origins as well. Considered a trusted must-have reference book for any serious collector, this guide helps you prepare for the next antique venue or event, be it a yard sale, shop, or estate sale, with wisdom.

Miller's Collectibles Handbook & Price Guide 2021-2022: The indispensable guide to what it's really worth

Miller's Collectibles Handbook & Price Guide 2021-2022: The indispensable guide to what it's really worth

Amazon

What We Like
  • Durably made

  • Features a wide range of items

  • Author has been on Antiques Roadshow, House Detectives, Martha Stewart, and has lectured at the Smithsonian

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t share much about identifying fakes

Both buyers and sellers can benefit from this educational guide. Written by globally-renowned antique and collectibles expert Judith Miller, this comprehensive guide showcases over 4,000 items with complete descriptions and all-new, full-color images. Each description includes the item’s expected price range and a detailed summary of its features.

Readers will learn how to place the proper value on a vast assortment of pieces. Sections on specific collectibles share tips on appraisal and what makes certain items more valuable than others. An excellent general guide on the subject, this book is most useful for collectors with broad interests.

HowExpert Guide to Collectibles: 101+ Tips to Find, Buy, Sell, and Collect Collectibles

HowExpert Guide to Collectibles

Amazon

What We Like
  • Written by an experienced collector

  • Makes a great gift for aspiring collectors

  • Includes a section on museums and collectors’ groups throughout the nation

What We Don't Like
  • Some found it less helpful than anticipated

This 177-page guide gives the lowdown on how to successfully navigate the world of collectibles. With the goal of building the collection of the reader’s choice, this book shares how to find quality pieces and start a collection, as well as tips on buying and selling. Available in Kindle, Audible, hardcover, and paperback, this option is easy to fit into your schedule and bring along when it’s time to hit the yard sales, auctions, or other collecting venues.

Written by a seasoned collector with experience collecting miniatures, wooden boxes, journals, and more, this book is a reliable source of information and guidance. Within its pages are instructions on how to differentiate between fakes and original pieces, as well as tips on purchasing and sales, cleaning collectibles, and the first steps of building a collection.

Best Coins: 2022 US / BNA Postage Stamp Catalog Collectors Price & ID Guide

2022 US / BNA Postage Stamp Catalog Collectors Price & ID Guide

CollectorBookstore.com

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Well-organized

  • Includes stamp identifier and guide for grading criteria of stamps

What We Don't Like
  • Some had trouble finding what they needed in the book

A stellar reference and price guide with full-color images, this book gives outstanding tips on collecting U.S. coins today. Available in hardcover with 404 pages and a concealed spiral binding, the H.E. Harris/BNA Postage Stamp Catalog is great for any level collector. Using the Scott’s numbering system to identify different types of stamps, this guide is easy to navigate and helpful for learning all facets of U.S. coin collecting.

Current prices are posted for not only the U.S. but also Canada and all of the United Nations. There is a handy guide inside for the grading of various coins, as well as identifying them. History backs up this well-known publication, as it has been in print since 1935.

Miller's Antiques Marks

Miller's Antiques Marks

Amazon

What We Like
  • Covers the meaning and origins of over 6,000 commonly used marks

  • Has a sizeable silver section for silver enthusiasts

  • Available in handy pocket size for travel to auctions and antique shops

What We Don't Like
  • Some felt the pocket size was too small, and certain features were missing

Another gem from globally celebrated antique expert Judith Miller, this guide focuses specifically on antique marks. A widely-accepted method of authenticating and appraising antiques, marks are the stamps, signatures, impressions, or other similar markings often found on the bottoms or backs of antiques.

These marks, once authenticated, can help identify pieces and assess their history, including date of origin. Conveniently made in a pocket size for bringing along to the antique shop or estate sale, this guide is an excellent reference for over 6,000 different types of marks.

Rare Record Price Guide 2022

Rare Record Price Guide 2022

Amazon

What We Like
  • Well-written and informative

  • Contains current listings on everything from albums to EPs, record labels, dates of origin

  • Excellent resource for British record collectors

What We Don't Like
  • Prices are written in pounds, not dollars (there are many free conversion sites)

If you like old school British music (hello Beatles!), you may be interested in this guide. Covering vintage vinyl from every musical genre you could dream of, this comprehensive guide has been published twice a year since 1987. Organized alphabetically, this book holds over 1,500 pages of information on collectible records produced from 1950 on.

With over 100,000 entries included, you’re sure to find anything you’re looking for, no matter how rare, as long as it was released in Britain during or after 1950. Readers will learn what kind of prices to expect if they ever decide to sell their vinyl. All record sizes are considered in the guide as well.

The Official Blue Book Handbook of United States Coins 2022

The Official Blue Book Handbook of United States Coins 2022

Amazon

What We Like
  • Includes prices from dealers from across the nation

  • Has a 16-page section outlining how to sell unique coins

  • Contains actual size photos

What We Don't Like
  • Some thought the lettering was too small

This popular collectors’ guide will help you find the official value of U.S. coins and tokens dating as far back as the 1600s, and how much dealers are currently willing to pay for their purchase. A best-selling guide since 1942, the Official Blue Book contains over 25,000 prices on several grades as well as straightforward instructions on how to grade your coins. It lists the up-to-date prices by categories of coin type, date, and mintmark.

With features on rare, federal, colonial, commemorative, bullion, and numerous other coins, this guide is remarkably thorough. Being the 79th edition of the Official Blue Book handbook, it consists of updates on everything from prices to images. Collectors are likely to appreciate having this book on hand before buying or selling.

The Always Jukin' Guide to Collectible Jukeboxes

The Always Jukin' Guide to Collectible Jukeboxes

Amazon

What We Like
  • 116 pages of history and careful guidance

  • Has entries for jukeboxes made as recently as the 1990s

  • Annual price updates are available

What We Don't Like
  • Hard to find

Essentially an encyclopedia of collectible jukeboxes, this guide is one of a kind. This book provides both ways to identify and the prices of more than 700 jukebox models, as well as speakers and more. While some jukeboxes turn out to be more valuable than others, this book can help you determine whether yours is museum quality-worthy or not.

No matter if you’re buying or selling, this guide has up-to-date prices on jukeboxes dating back to 1928. Additionally, readers will find an abundance of historical information and analysis to lead you to the right item or buyer. Images in black and white show the features of each jukebox with a tinge of antiquity in keeping with the historical theme of the book.

Lionel Trains Price Guide 1901-2022 (Greenberg's Guides)

Lionel Trains Price Guide 1901-2022

Amazon

What We Like
  • Well-organized format

  • Easy-to-read font

  • Has blank space for jotting down notes 

What We Don't Like
  • Some found the book was too large for their pocket

Model train collectors will find this guide useful, with over 400 pages of price, value, and identification information. Brimming with plenty of expert guidance, readers will find entries on Lionel Train models dating back to 1901.  Also, having all the necessary info in a handbook that can fit into a pocket is particularly convenient, especially for collectors on the go.

With chapters on understanding values, Prewar, Postwar, and the modern era, Club Cars, and more, collectors are likely to find what they’re looking for. Readers will find a well-designed resource with a readable format and accurate, up-to-date information.

Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-2023

Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-23

Amazon

What We Like
  • Author wrote the best-seller Miller’s Antiques Price Guide in 1979, followed by 100 more books

  • Has a special section on highly unusual pieces

  • Available as eBook or hardcover

What We Don't Like
  • Priciest option on this list

Another outstanding guide from internationally acclaimed antique expert Judith Miller, this option focuses specifically and solely on antiques. Readers will find out the prices, dates of origin, and history of over 8,000 pieces. Available in both hardcover and Kindle, this book can be easily accessed on the go.

Over 5,000 color photos accompany detailed explanations of each piece for highly informative descriptions. Readers can also look forward to special sub-sections on several of the most popular antiques of the day and how to value them, as well as bonus sections about the designers who first created the pieces and the original factories that turned them out.

What to Look For in Books on Antiques and Collectibles

Informative and Accurate Content

When looking for a quality guide on antiques and collectibles, you’ll want something that lists plenty of great items and how to find them, how to check for authenticity, and what prices to expect. Tammy Janetzke, co-owner of the Unique Finds Fine Antiques and Cool Stuff Antique Shop, has numerous years of experience under her belt as well as time spent learning from other collectors, so she can usually tell if an antique is authentic just by looking at it and feeling it. However, she also uses a blacklight and other forms of verification at times, admitting it can get tricky with some antiques. A great guide on the topic should describe how to authenticate several categories of antiques and collectibles.

Readability

It’s also important to find a guide that is written at your level of understanding. With a huge range of collectors, from novice to highly experienced, there are also guides written for various expert levels. Flip through the pages and make sure you understand the vocabulary used before you purchase any book. The best option would be a book written for both beginner and experienced collectors.

Portability

Collectors often take their reference guides with them when frequenting auctions, estate sales, or antique shops. Some reference books come in a size that's small enough to stash in your bag or pocket.

FAQ
  • How can you tell if an antique is valuable?

    Check for marks like symbols or signatures on the bottom or back of items like glassware or pottery, or in the drawers of old furniture for makers’ names.

    Janetzke finds that her experience helps her determine by the look and feel of an antique whether it has value. While she notes that some people are good at falsifying things, she's learned how to tell by observing the details. "Check to see whether the lace on an item is hand done, or if the glass has a finer or heavier cut," she says. "Also, try investigating the age of the wood used or the weight of the item to give you clues about its value," she says.

    Janetzke also carries a blacklight flashlight on her keychain, as do many antique collectors, so she can authenticate true uranium glass from fake. She says if it's real uranium glass, it's either green or yellow, and a blacklight should make it glow in a darkened room.

  • What collectibles are popular in 2022?

    Janetzke shares that a lot of customers are currently looking for mid-modern 1960s style uranium glass, (also called Vaseline glass due to its appearance resembling the color of Vaseline), which can be found in numerous forms including lamps, jewelry, clocks, dishes, knick-knacks and more. They're also looking for old smoking paraphernalia like smoking stands and ashtrays, as well as '60s/'70s/'80s clothing and old lighting such as lamps from the 1960s or chandeliers with lots of prisms. Janetzke says, "I think some people just really want to find unique things."

    Comic books, collector cards, old dolls, vinyl records, U.S. coins, and stamps are also considered to be hot sellers in the antique realm right now.

  • How old does an item have to be to be considered an antique?

    Some experts say that items dating back from 50 to 100 years ago are considered vintage, while anything 100 years old or older is said to be an antique. ‘Retro’ items are generally found to have originated in the ’50s through the 80’s and are also considered within the vintage category.

Why Trust The Spruce Crafts?

KJ Callihan is a writer for The Spruce and has also created shopping, gift, and activity guides for sites like AAA Northeast magazine, CNET, Knoji, and Oh My Veggies. She puts hours of research into making sure her guides provide the best products and information available. For this guide, she examined numerous items to select the highest quality options. She also consulted Tammy Janetzke, co-owner of the Unique Finds Fine Antiques and Cool Stuff Antique Shop, for expert guidance on antiques and collectibles. She co-owns the store with Julie Sangster, who is also an expert on the subject.

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