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.
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. The 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. 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. 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! 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?