July 17, 2011

Books on Sunday: Junk Books

A number of years ago, I happened on a little series of books about Junk: Looking in Junk Shops, Still Looking for Junk, More Looking in Junk Shops and Restoring Junk. These volumes are small enough to be tucked into a handbag or a jacket pocket. Although they’re more than a half a century old now, their information is still current – after all, history’s history, isn’t it! You can find copies on Amazon or Ebay, and you shouldn’t pay more than a couple of dollars for each.

junk 003 The books are by John Bedford, who was English and who was an authority of antiques, china, chinoiserie and junk. There’s not much information about him on the interwebs, just a list of books he’s published. junk 004The fun thing about these little books is how relevant most of the information is. The prices are all in shillings and pence, which are long gone, but the basics are all still worth reading. junk 005 If he’s talking about pottery from Stoke-on-Trent, the information about an old piece is still relevant today, and perhaps even more accurate!

The books are illustrated with loads of line drawings, including a series of illustrations on the pottery marks on old English ironstone and china. I’ve gone through these books while researching a piece I’ve found, and have often gotten the information I was looking for.junk 007 The book on restoring junk by Suzanne Beedell is very helpful in providing information about cleaning woods and metals. It even has formulas for making your own cleaning solutions, something I am not brave enough to try!junk 006 The illustration above is from a section on blanc-de-chine, a white Chinese figural pottery. The descriptions are easily written and read and you can pick up these books and put them down, all while learning bits and pieces.

Do you have a reference book you go back to time and time again?


  1. I swear by a little tiny white and blue reference dictionary that I was stupid enough to lend someone. I suppose I should say "I swore". It defined every obscure term imaginable and had nice line drawings as well.

  2. I shall keep my eyes out for these delightful little books. I have been collecting a similar series published in America in the 1950s by the Peter Pauper Press, with titles that all begin with "The ABC of..." and cover such topics as "Herb & Spice Cookery," "Chafing Dish Cookery," "Wine Cookery" and "Canapés." Delightful illustrations and charming (albeit dated) recipes. Reggie

  3. Great little books! "Sotheby's Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture" is one of my favorite reference books.

  4. What a timeless set of reference books! I could use some training on how to spot the gems among the junk.
    xo Cathy

  5. I have these books on London printed 20 or 30 years ago. They were printed in Great Britain. They broke down London into sections. I forget how many books there are...six? Here's the kicker. They go street by street in each neighborhood and tell about the street, any important houses, the history of the street, if it was bombed during the war, etc. Unbelieveable. I also have a book on Household duties that came out a few years ago, but again, highly details on "tasks."


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