Price and identification guides can explore the history of a company, show marks and other company resources usually much better than a single web site or two. Although it's difficult for a printed book to have current prices in a time when prices can fluctuate so much, you can still find out the relative values to pieces in the same line. Here are a few picks from my collecting library.
Although there are plenty of good pictures and catalog sheets, I feel this book's strength lies in the extensive history of the company, as well as complete descriptions of the various lines. Gibbs helps explain away the confusion of the different divisions, numbering system and different markings.
If you're a beginning collector, this McCoy book is perfect for you. I like the way author, Mark F. Moran, groups like-items together for comparision, especially in the cookie jar chapter. For instance the two different McCoy Christmas trees, one silver and one gold. Or the two rocking horses, one cold-painted and one glazed. Another feature included is a few "fake" items next to the real McCoy. The book makes extensive use of old McCoy catalog sheets -- always a great reference.
Lots of pictures, especially good images of the marks used on the pottery's wares. Decades of Design is just that -- the book is laid out by the timeline items were produced, which I found little harder to use without lots of turning back and forth to the index.
If you love Shawnee Pottery, this is a terrific book for your book shelf. Lots of good information, labels are shown and chapters covering much Shawnee products and design lines. I just wish the pictures were better, some are not very clear with poor lighting, the darker pieces are especially hard to see.
Gonder Ceramic Arts, A Comprehensive Guide
And comprehensive it is. The first fifteen pages are devoted to the company history and the people that were a part of it. Numerous copies of letters, catalog sheets company photographs and advertisements help document the history of this Zanesville, Ohio pottery. Pictures are excellent and descriptions underneath them are very detailed, it just doesn't get any better than this.
The book is a potpourri of Lefton pieces, separated in sections such as animals, banks, bells, birds, etc. Each figure is given an approximate price along with the size and description. The prices appear to be pretty close to what is found in the midwest area. Read the review for more details on this book.