- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Random House Reference; 1st edition (October 21, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0517568829
- ISBN-13: 978-0517568828
- Product Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Kovels' American Silver Marks Hardcover – October 21, 1989
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"What the Kovels don't know about antiques isn't worth knowing."
"The Kovels are arguably the authorities on antiques and collectibles in this country."
--Los Angeles Times
"As millions already know, any book carrying the Kovel byline will be as reliable, informative, and fact-filled as any collector could wish."----------------
--American Country Collectibles
From the Inside Flap
What the Kovels don't know about antiques," says House Beautiful, "isn't worth knowing." American silver -- from Grandma's coin silver spoon to Art Deco tea sets -- is becoming increasingly popular, and the Kovels have stepped in with a guide to identifying American silver marks. Before collecting another piece of silver, collect Kovels' American Silver Marks.
Almost everyone owns an old piece of silver. Few know the complete history of the piece. Kovels' American Silver Marks is a simple-to-use guide to identifying marks and monograms that appear on silver. Collectors and dealers can quickly determine the maker of a piece of silver. The listings include working dates, location, mark (if known), and bibliographic references to more than 160 books and articles. Makers working from 1650 to the present are included. More than 10,000 silversmiths are listed in alphabetical order, with a cross-indexing system for monograms and pictorial marks, Kovels' American Silver Marks, like Kovels' New Dictionary of Marks -- Pottery & Porcelain, an equally scholarly and useful book, will become a standard in libraries and museums.
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That's the good; what's the bad? It's chock full of mistakes, of several sorts. The information was mostly compiled from other publications with minimal cross-checking, and has both mistakes from the sources and mistakes of copying over. Dates are a hodge-podge of working dates and life dates, some incomplete, some quite likely just made up by guesswork - but with no indication whether a given one is good or not. The most serious flaw is that this edition replaced the sometimes poor (but sometimes good) hand-drawn marks of the previous edition with typeset versions - so there's no chance at all of comparing different makers' similar marks. This is especially important with the (usually earlier) initial marks. I have a friend who corrects all the mistakes he finds in his copy - there are about as many corrections as there are entries!
Serious collectors and dealers will have the six or so shelf-feet of original publications to check such information, and the knowledge to evaluate the different and sometimes conflicting data. I will often carry a copy of this in my backpack when going to shows, knowing that I can interpret from it and using it as a convenient "pocket" reference. It can also sometimes help in quickly identifying which better sources to turn to for identification. But if you don't have the resources and experience it can be seriously misleading. I couldn't say how many times I've seen mistaken, and sometimes laughable, attributions made by people relying on this for their information - who are confident because they "found it" in this book.
In summary, it's a seriously flawed collection of information that can nevertheless be useful for certain things. Caveat emptor.
The book is organized and alphabetized by maker.
Unfortunately, there's very little information about the maker him/herself. Just circa and location. That's it. If I wanted to know more about a specific maker, I would have to refer to the bibliography section and buy another book.
I expected much more from Kovels.