March Book Review by Adrienne Shivers
Title: Answers to Questions about Old Jewelry, 6th Edition
Author: C. Jeanenne Bell
General description: This book focuses on older jewelry, 1840-1950. It's been expanded and revised several times. The first edition came out about 20 years ago, this latest edition is from 2003. It's got tons of pictures, pieces you will not see in any other book, especially some of the earlier items. And, it's one of the few books that extensively covers eras, what was popular during the decades, both in fashion and jewelry. Gives some insight as to how trends changed and followed society, which is a nice historical perspective not found in most other books.
This review will cover several categories and will include a rating for that category 1-10, 1 being 'forget it, 10 being 'must have'. There will also be a short comment about each category and then a general review at the end.
QUANTITY of PICTURES:
Comments: A ton. Not only a LOT, more than most, but also pictures of some older items not frequently seen
QUALITY of PICTURES:
Comments: Unfortunately the majority of the pictures are in black and white. There is a color section, but there are not the best I've see, and many are on blue backgrounds, which detracts. The black and whites are mostly very clear, but some are not great. There are almost no back shots, but then most books do not show those unless it's a book that focuses on construction and ID, I don't count that against. Many, if not most, of the pieces in the book are not signed, except for the color pictures and sections on costume and Mexican.
QUANTITY of INFORMATION
Comments: An unusually large ranges of style and eras and it's great to follow jewelry as it changed. A lot of info on earlier periods, fashion dictates, what was popular. Each piece has a good written description, necessary as most pictures are black and white.
QUALITY of INFORMATION
Comments: Quite accurate for the most part. A couple of mistakes in dating of individual pieces, but for the quantity of pieces shown, it's not a lot. Very detailed text covering fashion. The marks section in the back is just so-so, the marks have been recreated and are not exact. Very good info on the back for identifying various materials and a nice section on manufacturing.
Comments: Values are all over the map and not well researched by todays standards. I checked some of the previous editions and many values have not been updated. As current collecting trends change, so do values and you'd expect more change from a book that is updated with new editions, as this one is. The newly added sections have somewhat more typical high end retail values. I find that the sections carried over from previous editions don't reflect the changes, either up or down, on various items. I pass on commenting on values of precious metal and gemstone pieces, as I don't deal in those.
Comments: Very easy to follow, really well organized until you get to 1940-1950. Because there is a separate newly added section for 'costume jewelry', which is also included in the 1940-1950 section, one need to be aware that there are really two sections covering this time period. She's put unsigned pieces on the 1940-1950 section and signed pieces in the 'costume jewelry' section, even though the same time period is represented. The index and contents pages are helpful.
Total average rating: 7.33 but the rating for values pulls the average down. If you ignore that, the average rating is 8 for information and overall value to the reader.
A must have book for those interested in jewelry pre 1930's especially. Really good variety of different pieces and a great help in dating styles. I use it constantly for older pieces and have been able to ID pieces I would have never seen before otherwise. A good example is my crepe stone brooch. When I first received it in a larger lot several years ago, I had never seen one before and recognized in through the pictures in this book.Helps to differentiate between true Victorian and early 1900's pieces and later Revival pieces. There's very few other book out there (one or maybe at most two) that covers these older pieces in the same quantity. I wouldn't be without it.
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