The Antiques Magpie:
A Fascinating Compendium of Absorbing History, Stories, Facts and Anecdotes from the World of Antiques
By Marc Allum
Published by Icon Books, September 5th, 2013
Along with probably most of the population of Britain, a programme called "The Antiques Roadshow" permeates the background of my life. It has been running for a staggering 36 seasons and has unearthed hidden treasures which people have had in their homes, some suspecting their items may be of some value, others totally unaware that the china bowl they used for their dog's food was actually incredibly rare and of enormous value. I always wondered how on earth one became an antiques expert but never found out the answer; this did not deter me from watching the show and wondering how to tell if things were of value.
Now, Marc Allum, one of the show's resident experts and an ex-auctioneer himself, has written an informative and very funny guide to collecting antiques which covers the basics such as bidding for items at auctions and an A-Z directory of knowledge about art styles, famous artists, types of Greek urns, radioactive watch dials, famous people's body parts, ecclesiastical relics, poisonous pigments, different types of plastics and metals, art forgeries and their forgers, collecting cereal packet toys, the language of flowers, famous underwear and so much more.
I read the book straight through from cover to cover and entertained my family by reading huge chunks of it out loud, but it can also be used as a browsing book as each entry is only a few pages long at most. A delight of a book!