1. 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles, 5th edition, by Linda Campbell Franklin (Krause Publications). So you didn’t inherit your grandmother’s antique furniture or jewelry, but you did get a weird kitchen gadget she had for years. It has a wooden knob handle and five cast-iron cones. But what the heck is it? 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles comes to the rescue. Flip through this nearly 900-page tome, and you’ll learn that your grandmother’s gadget is an ice-cream cone fryer. Not only will you see a picture of the device, but you’ll also find a description and recipe, so you can make your own ice cream cones. This book contains more than 100 recipes and historical anecdotes, as well as pricing. Whether you’ve inherited a kitchen item or want to remember dishes your family once owned, 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles is a handy reference guide.
2. Collectible Glassware from the 40s, 50s, 60s…, 7th edition, by Gene and Cathy Florence (Collector Books). From glass dishes to punch bowls to condiment holders, Collectible Glassware can help you identify and write about your family heirlooms. This 253-page book has hundreds of color photographs, plus descriptions of antique glassware, including the date, manufacturer and price. If you’re a baby boomer, you might find some of these pieces in your parents’ kitchen cupboards. The next time you visit them, take this book along and see what treasurers you can find. I’ll bet the price they paid doesn’t come near what these antiques sell for today.
3. Collectible Teapots by Tina M. Carter (Krause Publications). Starbucks may have rendered tea drinking nearly obsolete, but our grandmothers knew how to brew a strong cup. Teapots come in all shapes and sizes, and if you’ve inherited one, this book — showcasing more than 900 and their prices — can help you identify it. Just thumbing through the pages will inspire you to start collecting teapots (and brew a cup yourself). Along with a history of teapots, you’ll find these treasures grouped by type, such as floral, novelty, miniature, silver and figural, with explanations of styles and patterns.
4. The Dictionary of Blue & White Printed Pottery 1780-1880, 2 volumes, by A.W. Coysh and R.K. Henrywood (Antique Collectors’ Club). In the late 18th century, potters invented a technique that transformed the ceramic industry. They began to transfer paper prints onto porcelain and pottery and then glaze over them to preserve the pattern. Their technique caught on, and soon our ancestors were snatching up blue-and-white printed pottery in a variety of patterns. If you’ve inherited blue-and-white ceramics, these guides will help you identify them and give you historical background on the pieces. Although the books have only a few color illustrations, the hundreds of black-and-white photographs will help you match up designs. Coysh and Henrywood also reference a number of books you can consult for more details about your heirloom transferware.