Cover image for Antiques roadshow primer : the introductory guide to antiques and collectibles from the most-watched show on PBS
Antiques roadshow primer : the introductory guide to antiques and collectibles from the most-watched show on PBS
Prisant, Carol, 1938-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Workman, 1999.
Physical Description:
xix, 366 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK1125 .P75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
NK1125 .P75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
NK1125 .P75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
NK1125 .P75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
NK1125 .P75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
NK1125 .P75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The national treasure hunt, Antiques Roadshow is, in its third season, the most popular show on PBS. Every week it draws millions and millions of viewers to the edge of their seats as independent dealers and specialists from the country's leading auction houses appraise family heirlooms and flea market finds alike. Now this knowledge, authority, and passion is distilled in the Antiques Roadshow Primer, an introductory guide to American Antiques and collectibles.

Antiques Roadshow has taught us to look for fortunes in our attics--perhaps to find, as other lucky souls have, an Anna Poole Peale portrait miniature worth $5,000 to $7,000 or a Confederate sword worth $35,000. Focusing on 11 major areas--including Furniture, Painting, Silver, Jewelry, Porcelain, and Toys--the primer addresses the essential things buyers and collectors need to know, covering vital details for each category, such as shapes, styles, and patterns, provenance, periods, and motifs. A 32-page full-color section amplifies each chapter by illustrating numerous examples of styles and techniques, and individual items are fully identified, often with their appraised value. Above all, it helps even first-timers to answer the two key question every collector must face: Is it old? Is it valuable?

Author Notes

Carol Prisant is the New York editor of the British magazine The World of Interiors. She also writes about antiques and collectibles for Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, New York, and other magazines. A former antiques dealer, Ms. Prisant is an appraiser of fine and decorative arts and a member of the Appraisers Association of America.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Lines snaking around every major and minor U.S. metropolitan civic center are the hallmarks of PBS' wildly popular Antiques Roadshowand may soon queue at library doors. Why? Appraiser-dealer Prisant, with a lot of help from marketing-savvy Workman Publishing, has extracted some of the best finds and tips and data from the TV series, and has added selected background information. Photographs and illustrations are prolific throughout the 10 chapters; either solo or within a chart, all pictures include annotations as well as narrative "crib sheets." From furniture to books and manuscripts, each section features a broad overview of manufacturing and techniques, makers, "discoveries" from the show, distinguishing characteristics, and clues that will reveal the rarity of the object. Easy on the eyes--and the wallet--as well as the best place to begin serious antiquing. --Barbara Jacobs



from Chapter Ten BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS This chapter is about nothing less than the accumulated intellectual and political history of mankind, but don't let that intimidate you. It's in collectible form, of course, which makes it palatable, accessible, and even--trust me, now--fun. And as with all the excellent objects in this volume, you'll discover in this chapter that the closer your books and documents have been to those who possess genius, courage, and power, the rarer, more interesting, and collectible they become. Take books, for example. Victorian critic John Ruskin wrote, "All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour and the books of all time." And though he made this statement in 1865, the modern world of book collecting is, in fact, still conveniently divided into Ruskin's two categories: antique books and modern first editions. There is a third and extensive category of entirely noncollectible books, however, called "reading copies." These are the beach books, nightstand books, and bathtub books that are bought for no other reason than to be read. The antique books are Ruskin's "books of all time"--the Dantes, Shakespeares, Spensers, Keatses, and Melvilles of literature, the Darwins, Vesaliuses, Ben Franklins, and Captain Cooks of science and exploration. This field embraces works by Jane Austen, Umberto Eco, Mark Twain, and James Joyce (for "classics" needn't be from antiquity) and the world of children's books. Treasures such as The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, and Winnie-the-Pooh actually touch on a second dimension of books. For not only is the text of the book an integral part of our universal and individual consciousness; the book itself is also often a beautiful object. Its covers and narratives may be exquisitely illustrated. Its pages can be handsomely bound in morocco leather and gold leaf. Its paper may be handmade. Its binding can be set with precious gems or clasped in gold. All of this, from the collectibles standpoint, potentially makes books doubly valuable: precious as objects and as repositories of human wisdom. Modern first editions can be both beautiful objects and literary treasures, despite the fact that they are merely popular books--"books of the hour"--whose ascendancy to "classic" heights is still in doubt if even possible. It's rather unlikely that anyone will ever regard the 1993 first edition of John Grisham's first book, A Time to Kill (published by Wynwood) as a literary classic, but it did bring four figures at an auction recently. On the other hand, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, John Updike's Rabbit, Run, and Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander are far more likely to last beyond the current "hour." With this in mind, collectors of modern first editions mine our very recent past and bet, a bit, on the future. Manuscripts are a more spontaneous record and far more revealing than most books. The most popular type of manuscript is the handwritten letter, through which we can gain insight into the thought processes and personalities of famous people--just the kind of thing devotees of Lincoln, Napoleon, or Mozart hunger for. While today we can document our geniuses on videotape--study every nuance of facial expression, hear the timbre of their voices, note the color of their eyes--all we will ever have to hint at the most private thought of the legendary men and women who changed and made our world is their letters. Other types of documents, such as deeds, wills and records of court proceedings, are also manuscripts, which illuminate history in less personal but often surprisingly revealing ways. But, even if we can't truly know a man or his era, in compiling a paper trail we can still begin to puzzle out our past. It wasn't until the twentieth century, after all, that print technology and photography combined to give us comprehensive and reliable historical documents. Despite these undeniable advantages--our videotapes and scanners--we certainly won't see ourselves clearly until much more time has passed. Excerpted from Antiques Roadshow Primer Copyright c 1999 by WGBH Educational Foundation. Reprinted with permission by Workman Publishing. Excerpted from Antiques Roadshow Primer: The Introductory Guide to Antiques and Collectibles from the Most-Watched Series on PBS by Carol Prisant All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
Chapter 1 Furniturep. 1
Is It Old?p. 3
Is It Valuable?p. 17
American Furniturep. 25
English and Continental Furniturep. 31
Chapter 2 Silverp. 45
Types of Silverp. 47
Making Silver Objectsp. 50
Understanding Hallmarksp. 55
American Silverp. 59
English and Continental Silverp. 68
Is It Old?p. 73
Is It Valuable?p. 75
Chapter 3 Porcelain, Pottery, and Glassp. 79
Porcelainp. 80
Potteryp. 88
Is It Old?p. 94
Is It Valuable?p. 96
Glassp. 99
Is It Old?p. 111
Is It Valuable?p. 112
Chapter 4 Paintingsp. 115
Is It Legitimate?p. 125
Connoisseurshipp. 133
Folk Paintingp. 141
Chapter 5 Jewelryp. 147
Is It Real?p. 149
Is It Old?p. 166
Chapter 6 Clocks and Watchesp. 177
Anatomy of a Timepiecep. 179
Clocksp. 184
Watchesp. 194
Chapter 7 Metalworkp. 201
Bronzep. 202
Brassp. 211
Copperp. 217
Pewterp. 221
Ironp. 226
Folk Artp. 230
Chapter 8 Rugs, Quilts, and Samplersp. 233
Rugsp. 235
Quiltsp. 247
Samplersp. 255
Chapter 9 Toys, Dolls, and Collectiblesp. 263
Toysp. 264
Dollsp. 275
Teddy Bearsp. 284
Collectiblesp. 288
Chapter 10 Books and Manuscriptsp. 301
Booksp. 303
Manuscriptsp. 315
Glossaryp. 321
Suggested Reading and Resourcesp. 325
Finding an Appraiserp. 327
Auction Housesp. 328
Appraisal Organizationsp. 328
Antiques Roadshow Appraisersp. 329
Photo Creditsp. 333
Indexp. 343