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12 Excellent Reference Books for Collecting Vintage Costume Jewellery in the UK
You have a thirst for knowledge and want to know more about vintage costume jewelry in your collection. But which book to buy if you live in the UK?
There are hundreds of reference books to choose from and most of them are written in the United States by authors who have a collection in the United States. How special is it to us in the UK?
So here’s a quick guide to 12 books that will give you a good overview from the Victorian to the Eighties and beyond. There are actually more than 12 books here, as some authors have written more than one useful book.
This guide should include general unsigned pieces and some signed jewelry. However there are currently no specific books for most of the mass produced costume jewelery made by UK companies or made for the UK market apart from Wilson and Butler.
1. Costume Jewelery: A Collectors Guide by Caroline Behr (Miller’s) (ISBN 1-84000-373-1)
A good place to start is with an overview and timeline of Victorian, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, 1950s, Czech, Austrian and some designs. It’s an easy read and has good pictures. Hand bag size and ideal for reading on the train
2. Vintage Costume Jewelry: A Passion for Fabulous Fakes by Carol Tanenbaum (ISBN 1-85149-511-8)
It is a must buy and has a timeline with detailed information. Includes Art Nouveau, Birmingham silver, machinery, introduction to Bakelite and plastics and a glossary. Lots of good pictures but none of the back (necessary for identification but rarely included in a book)
3. Jewelry Collecting Secrets: How to BUY More for Less! by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-89689-180-1)
Again a timeline and adventure through history but an absolute gem of a book because it shows the background and mechanisms or discoveries that are fundamental to marriage. This book looks at styles and materials with specific photos. Prom jewelry, plastic art, retro, manufacturing methods, Scandinavian, cameo. Mostly short information but a very good visual guide. US Book Price Guide $ (2005). Another wonderful book to read on the bus or train as it fits in your bag.
4. Clare Phillips Gold and Silver (V & A) (ISBN 978-1-85177-535-4) or Jewellery: A Decorative Arts Library edited by Janet Swarbrick (ISBN 1-902328-13-2)
Couldn’t decide which of these UK books was the most informative. So I included both
Jewels and Jewelery covers materials, chronology of styles and manufacture and distribution. Museum photos and pieces. It includes silver filings, Berlin Iron, pearls, glass and enamel. Faithful jewelry, cut steel, blue and loved jewelry not just jet or wild. Lalique, Ashbee, Liberty Cymric, Wilson, Gaskins and a pre-Victorian timeline to 2000.
Jewelery is a visual celebration of the world’s great jewelery making techniques. From the ancient world to 1989. Full of information and photographs with specific references to Jewelery in the UK.
5. Popular Jewelry of the 60s, 70s and 80s by Roseann Ettinger (ISBN 0-7643-2470-5)
Three decades of jewelry reflect the fashion and political trends that have influenced the designs. US Book Price Guide $ (2006) Most of the antique jewelry found is from this period and therefore makes this book worth reading. Well drawn with pieces recognized here in the UK. Including Mod jewelry, oriental influence, Pop Art, novelty, revival pieces, love gardens, Art Metal, jade, plastic, wood and pave. The author has produced other reference books over the decades that are well worth the investment.
6. Collecting Art Plastic Jewelry by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-87349-954-9)
Bakelite is rarely found in jewelry in such quantities and varieties as in the United States. It is useful to know and see a variety of designs that have used plastic or have been used with other materials. Celluloid, Lucite, thermoset, thermoplastic, laminated, reverse lined are common and easy to find here in the UK. This book makes you look at plastic accessories in a new light. There is insufficient information on gallstone, the earliest type of plastic most common in the UK. For this, read books about Jakob Bengel.
7. Costume Jewelry Collection 303: The Back Side A review of costume jewelry from the back by Julia C Carroll. (ISBN 978-1-57432-626-0)
This book gets down to the basics, a must have knowledge of vintage costume jewelry. Various components include stones and cabochons that can be invaluable in dating and hardware markings that can be lost. Cameos, rhinestones, signed jewelry and signature photos, art glass, pin backs and more. I look at this book and always see something I haven’t seen before. It is one of my most valuable books in terms of knowledge. There is also a section of designs including Jonette Jewelry Co (JJ) that are not always found in other books. US Book Price Guide $ (2010)
Julia Carroll has written other books in this category, including Costume Jewelry 101 and 202. Both books are worth referencing.
8. Baubles, Buttons and Beads: The Heritage of Bohemia by Sibelle Jargstorf (ISBN 0-88740-467-7)
This is another gem of the book; because we had a lot of antique jewelry from Bohemia until World War II and then in smaller quantities in this country. There is still supply and stock but prices are rising. Parts on buttons, filigree, glass beads, plastic and glass cameos, 1930’s, enamel and more importantly history. After reading this book, it helped me to date and identify the cameos, filigree tapestry and colorful rhinestone jewelry of the 1920’s and 30’s. Hand-made and machine-made clothes clips and various accessories are used.
Sibylle Jargstorf has produced other books on bees and glasses that are excellent.
9. Cameos: A Pocket Guide by Monica Lynn Clements and Patricia Rosser Clements (ISBN 0-7643-1728-8)
Although there are many books on cameos, this little pack guide is full of cameos in materials other than shell. Shell is the most collected type of cameo jewelry but for me it had no appeal. I wanted to know more about the glass, plastic, metal and gemstones I was seeing. How to identify the materials used and when they were made. There are many photos in this book which includes a large number of cameos in these materials and more importantly they are known for the UK market. US book price guide $ (2003) For more in-depth information on cameo jewelry, get one of the publications Cameos: Old and New by Anna M Miller.
10. Victorian Jewelery by Margaret Flowers (No ISBN)
Not a book on ancient but ancient jewelry that is now out of print but still available in several editions. It was first published in 1951 but is well worth reading. A sense of Victorian influences can be seen in the revival pieces. Birmingham’s role in mass-produced jewelry. This book is often cited as an influence on subsequent books. There are 3 parts to the Victorian period and each part has the most used motifs of that period. Sometimes I laugh at the author’s sarcastic attitude but it is worth reading. Few photos and mostly in black and white which are not clear.
11. Scottish Jewellery: A Victorian Passion by Diana Scarisbrick
Scottish jewelry is found in abundance in Britain. From the middle of the nineteenth century with the increase in popularity, factories in Scotland and England produced thousands of designs and pieces. This continued into the late twentieth century, mostly in Birmingham. This book is a good introduction. Not as much as it could be and expect information on vintage Scottish souvenir jewelry from Miracle, The Ward Brothers, Exquisite or Hollywood. Pages of silver, glitter, and hand-painted photographs. But it is confused by the picture guide at the end of the book. A good introductory book to explore Scottish motifs.
12. Warman’s Jewelry: Fine & Costume Jewelry 4th Edition by Kathy Flood (ISBN 1-4402-0801-8)
This is the 4th edition of the Warman Jewelry Identification and Price Guide. So 3 more books to get and read. This edition covers two centuries of pearls, figures, cameos, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and plastic. The difference between Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian jewellery. Again, page after page of jewelry photos. A good mix of vintage, antique and modern jewelry. A mix of global designs that I found applicable to the UK. US Book Price Guide $ (2010)
This is just a brief reference of general books for antique jewelry that will change as more books come on the market or I discover out of print books. Then there are special books on Bengal, Avon, Sarah Coventry, Egyptian Revival jewellery, Haskell, D & E, Wilson & Butler and more to read.
Even with this amount of information I still feel like I just screwed up. As already mentioned, on the jewelry of Ciro Pearls, Sphinx, Exquisite, Miracle, Hollywood, Thomas Le Mott and many other companies that in the twentieth century in this country, which is now the most collectible in the world, mass jewelry produced, there is a deficiency.
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