Dear Lee,

These have been the strangest few months I can remember, starting in March when the virus struck. We decided that since everyone at Kovels has a computer, we could all work from home for a while. Of course, there were challenges, but with virtual meetings, messaging, faxing and phone calls, we have managed to make our deadlines, including those for Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2021, our 53rd annual book. It’s available for pre-publication orders now to arrive, hot off the presses, on its publication date of Sept. 22, 2020.  Our readers ask for more pictures every year. When you see this year’s book, you will see more pictures than ever and, like every year, all new prices!

It’s hard to believe that the very first price guide in 1968 was a hardcover black-and-white book with no pictures. It was the first commercial bookstore book done on a computer. We used punch cards.

The ugly but useful book was a bestseller. Take a look at some of the prices from the 1960s. (Too bad we didn’t buy a Tiffany lamp!)

We are looking forward to both seeing the new book in print and being able to work in the same office again.

Since we have all been spending more time at home here are some tips on how to care for your collections.

1. It’s okay to wash wine glasses in the dishwasher. It’s probably safer than hand washing them in the sink. Load them upside down on the upper rack, making sure they do not touch each other or any other dish. Use dish detergent plus a rinse product and the no-heat drying setting.

2. Don’t soak a piece of pottery or porcelain that has chipped or cracked glaze. It will flake off or crack further and lead to a stain. A friend served borsht (beet soup) at a holiday party and several of the soup bowls had tiny cracks in the white glaze that are now red. That reminds me of the husband who put the turkey on its silver platter in the oven to keep it warm. When he went to retrieve it, he found the soldered handles of the plated silver tray had fallen off. His wife was not pleased.

3. Be careful where you hide valuables. Studies show the worst place is the bedroom closet. Thieves will check pockets and purses. A home safe isn’t safe if it isn’t bolted to the wall or the floor. It can be carried away.

4. A friend hid a house key near the front door, not under the mat as they do in the movies but buried in a large Victorian iron urn filled with flowers. A bold thief came with a lift truck and took the urn — flowers, dirt and all. No way to know if they found the key, but the owner had a locksmith change every door lock in the house just in case. The fake stones that hold a key also can be a problem. We all recognize the fakes from the pictures in the mail-order catalogs.

My favorite sad-but-true tale is about “the diamond bracelet hidden in grandma’s bed pillow.” She died, never told her family she was hiding things, and the pillow was sold. Someone got a real bargain at that sale. I’ve always wondered if she had hidden any other jewelry in the hems of the drapes, or taped to the back of a picture, or underneath a drawer.

Original punch card used in Kovels' 1968 price guide.

Original punch card used in Kovels’ 1968 price guide.

Prices from Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles 1960 price guide.

Prices from Kovels’ 1960 price guide. There were no pictures in the early price guide.

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