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The Legend of Bohemian Glass:
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This book offers a comprehensive overview of the history and traditions of Czech art glass. Divided into 12 chapters, the book details the evolution and development of glassmaking as an art form from the earliest times, when the first glass beads appeared in central Europe, to the present.
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Bohemian Tango Cordial Set

Identifying Your Antiques and Collectibles
by Bob Brooke


Part of the fun of collecting antiques is learning about what you collect. And in today’s data-rich world, there’s a lot of information to be had if you can find it, that is. The Internet is today’s information highway, but don’t overlook the traditional information outlets—libraries and antiques books.

There are two questions associated with researching an antique or collectible—what is it and how much is it worth? It’s almost impossible to answer the second question without answering the first.

Misidentification of old objects is a major problem. You’ll find lots of examples at flea markets, antiques malls, antique shops, and auction and direct sale sites on the Internet. Generally, the misidentification is not deliberate but the result of a lack of research skills, and/or the unavailability of research materials.

Identifying the correct collecting category to which an object belongs is the first of many questions that you must research. You’ll also need to find out who made the object, how it was made, how it was marketed and used, why someone saved it, and what it says about the person who saved it?

I receive many Emails from persons who tried to research an older object on the Internet and failed. Most of them say that the person couldn’t find any information on their object. And yet, when I search for information on the same object, I find something.

While it’s true that there’s a wealth of information on the Internet, there are two other truths as well. First, there’s a wealth of misinformation on the Internet. Unfortunately, there’s no screening agency for information offered online. Second, there are tremendous gaps in that information.

Searching the Internet

The best thing about the Internet is that you can type in a keyword or two and come up with hundreds of results. This makes things easy—or so it may seem. Choosing the right keyword is important, but most people choose the most obvious.

Did you know that the first word you type into the search box is generally what the search engine searches for first? Let’s say you type in “antique chair.” The search engine will look for results for “antique” first, followed by "chair." But if you want to be more specific, you need to add another word or two. Now type in “antique chair Chippendale.” For an even more specific search, add the words "18th century."

The challenge is to ask your question the right way, so that you don’t end up overwhelmed with too many search results, underwhelmed with too few, or simply unable to locate the material that you need.

Search engines don’t read sentences the way people do. Instead, they look for the key words in your query in the Web sites they search. In other words, you’re not asking a search engine a question, you’re asking it to look for Web sites where those words appear in the code. In order to use a search engine or database effectively, you need to be able to choose the best combination of keywords.

Most search engines work best if you provide them with several keywords.

Your most powerful keyword combination is the phrase. Phrases are combinations of two or more words that must be found in the documents you’re searching for in the EXACT order shown. To search for a phrase, enclose it in quotation marks.

If you find that you’re getting results that aren’t what you’re looking for, you can use a minus sign to exclude results that include a certain word or phrase.

Most search engines have tabs at the top that let you choose between Web sites, images, videos, news stories, and so on. What most people don’t realize is that choosing the results of the image search will give them a variety of photos related to their keywords. Afer you get your image results, scroll down through them, searching for one or more that looks similar to your object. Then click on the image. This will bring up a dialog box that tells you a little about the object. By clicking on the Web link above the description, you’ll be able to follow it to the Web site where the image has been posted. This usually leads to information about the object.

But don’t forget your local libraries. While many of them aren’t keeping as wide a variety of books as they once did, you’ll find those of historical societies to be particularly useful. Their book collections include titles useful in identifying antiques.

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