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Antiques reference: Books or Internet?

*Antiques reference: Books or Internet?*

A recent Antiquer's forum post featured a pile of reference books bought for AU$50. While reaction was generally positive, and in some cases envious, one responder said that they were getting rid of their books and using internet resources instead.

So we thought, is it feasible to rely solely on the internet for researching antiques?

The internet certainly has some major advantages that we would not wish to lose:

Forums can be excellent for bringing together a wealth of far flung knowledge that can greatly assist identification e.g. Antiquers

Google can be invaluable at finding other examples of a piece.

Wikipedia has become an indispensable research aid

And there are many other sites that are important sources of information. We show several of these in our Links page.


I have a little silver hallmarks book that I consult regularly because it contains accessible information that is not easily found on the net, and saves me a lot of time searching for hallmarks

The depth of information found in books is rarely found on the Net, and if it is to be found it may be hidden behind a paywall or subscription site.So if I want to know the history of say, Derby porcelain, a book will be better than the internet which is more likely to have a short blog or article

So, while Internet use alone appears feasible, coverage is patchy and often very superficial. If the information has a value, such as realised prices on items sold, it will usually incur a charge to access. Such subscription and paywall sites may be worthwhile, but choose the trial option first to see if the rewards justify the costs

We see the internet and reference books as complementary, with books offering a depth of information often not found online. And it isn't just a choice between the two as there are many more ways to access information

The pursuer of antiques knowledge always has the option of visiting museums, corresponding with curators and joining societies and associations. Attending auctions, watching antiques tv and going to antiques fairs are all ways to build a depth and spread of knowledge.