BOOKS / In the lists

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The Independent Culture
You know it's autumn when Miller's Antiques Price Guide turns up in the bestseller lists. A perennial favourite, this gargantuan tome has been a bestseller since it first appeared in 1979. It gives current prices for all sorts of antiques, but at 800 pages it's a grand encyclopaedia of furniture (and silver, china, toys, you name it) too. 10,000 photographs depict hundreds of categories - from goblets to guns, grandfather clocks to garden ornaments. It could be a maze, but there's a detailed index, so if you wanted to know, say, what a Davenport desk looks like, you could turn to page 116 and find 14 variants. Miller's will also tell you where to buy a piece - there's a list of auctioneers and dealers - and how to look after it ('Never use aerosol sprays on wood', 'Never let people lean on the backs of chairs'). The book's clever pitch - simple enough for the beginner, just informative enough for the trade - must explain its 135,000 sales a year.

And the mystery author? There are two Millers, Judith and Martin, backed by a team of expert compilers (some of whom double up on the BBC's Antiques Road Show). They began by selling the guide from the back of their car. Miller now also produces price guides to pictures, 'collectables', classic cars and motorbikes. Wannabe Lovejoys should stand by for How To Make Money Out Of Antiques, due out in January.