In the past half-century (sounds like a long time and it is!) the Kovel family
has published more than 100 books on antiques and collecting. Their latest offering,Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles 2013
is the 45th edition of what has become the bible for collectors. Other experts have and still continue to publish general price guides over the years, but for longevity and trustworthiness, no one does it better.
Prices for Everyone
As mentioned in last year's review for the 2012 book
, the Kovel guides try to spotlight the prices that we as regular collectors want to know about. It's all well and good to know that a particular piece might have sold for $25,000 but that's not something most of us need to price on an everyday basis. The Kovels concentrate on the average prices in a given category.
Remember, if you do have something that might be worth that much, it's a good thing to have it professionally appraised, rather than depending on a book for pricing.
But that doesn't mean they don't report those high prices, a section at the front of the book details the record prices over the past year in several categories. For instance $240,000 for a 1915 prototype Coca-Cola bottle from 1915 is mentioned in the advertising category. The sports category only lists four items, a Babe Ruth road jersey, ($4,415,658) a 1903 World Series program ($241,500) , a 1922 Ty Cobb uniform ($358,500) and Shoeless Joe's autographed baseball ($77,675).
The format is similar to what we've come to expect in recent years, categories which are alphabetical and in each category a text list of prices, also alphabetically listed. Each page has three to four color photographs bordering the edge. In several instances, this format is discarded to have a few pages of all images with short descriptions and prices.
I really enjoy reading the expert's tips sprinkled throughout the pages. Sometimes I'll turn the pages to read them, not even paying attention to the prices. At times they make me chuckle and other times, it's a real lightbulb moment. Last year I learned the ketchup cleaning copper trick and this year, I just might start walking backwards out of the house when it snows*.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for a general resource guide for prices, this is the one to get. The Kovels list all new items and prices each year, no repeats or updating. This particular guide has 2500 color photographs and over 40,000 prices, based on actual sales.
Their books have been getting bigger every year and now it's so big, it's downright heavy! I wouldn't be carrying it around at an antique show or flea market, but I might leave it in the car while I'm out shopping.
*When walking outside after a snowstorm, throw would-be crooks off the trail by leaving footprints to the house, not just leaving it.