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Georgia Caraway: Welcoming the bundle of joy

New book will help antiques keep valuable luster

Many of you have contacted me about how tickled you were with the “nice boots” column. Al’s boot business at the Antique Gallery has stepped up and there are more of us out there strutting our stuff (or should I say scooting our boots?). Consequently, Al just brought in 100 more pairs of boots to stock his shelves. Pam and I had such success with our first purchases that we were among the first to buy a few more of his vintage beauties.

Turns out that red boots are a real turn-on! I promise all you single guys and gals out there, cowboy boots are the rage and the new aphrodisiac.

It did not take long after that romantic fling to result in the delivery of my new “baby.” The University of North Texas Press published my preservation guide, Tips, Tools & Techniques to Care for Antiques, Collectibles and Other Treasures, this month. This whopping 10-ounce bundle of helpful hints came into the world at 2:35 p.m. March 2. She will have her first public appearance at the Antique Gallery of Denton from 3 to 6 p.m. March 31 — and all of you are invited to her baptism celebration.

Tips, Tools & Techniques was first conceived of in 1999 when I was teaching a course on preservation of antiques. It was inspired by my job at the museum, where I became more conscious of the need for people to understand the importance of preservation of their own treasures, as well as those kept in the public trust. I gathered together some material from various sources, especially those that were addressing the concept of going “green.” I wanted to provide as many ways to clean and preserve materials while keeping the environment and health issues in mind. That led to laboring through books and pamphlets from the 1890s to the 1950s on the topic. It amazed me that our ancestors were more adept at cleaning formulas that were made from natural and easy-on-the-environment ingredients than we are.

These early formulas became the embryo of the book. What started out as a twinkle in my eye developed into a fully developed body of work.

Tips, as I have nicknamed her, has easy-to-follow instructions about cleaning and pampering common antiques and collectibles, including metal advertising signs, buttons, glassware, clothing and jewelry. Addenda provide information such as how to get a good deal at auction, U.S. patent numbers and the dates of Chinese dynasties. The especially handy pronunciation guide helps those who want to speak with confidence about the provenance of Schlegelmilch porcelain and Hermes scarves.

Many collectors furnish their homes with antiques and use them as part of their everyday lives. Although collectors are very good at collecting and know that they must care for their collectibles, practical knowledge for such care is often lacking. Antique items should not be cared for or repaired in the same manner as modern home furnishings.

Collections of such items as jewelry, glass, coins, postage stamps, china, porcelain, silver, linens, bottles, stoneware, quilts, stamp boxes, scrimshaw, snuffboxes, fans, watches, clocks, postcards, photographs, periodicals, toys, folk art, military and political souvenirs, buttons, and railroad, airline and ship memorabilia all require their own special care and feeding.

As has been stated repeatedly on Antiques Roadshow and other antiques-related programs, you can destroy the monetary value of an antique by not taking proper care of it. If you are ever in doubt about how to care for an object, consult a professional before proceeding — or consult my Tips, Tools & Techniques.

Come see Tips and her proud mama on March 31. There will be refreshments, entertainment and a chance to win some great “birthday” presents. This is one bundle of joy that you won’t want to miss.

GEORGIA CARAWAY is executive director of the Texas Institute of Antiques & Collectibles and owner of enVogue & Vintage at Western Heritage Gallery in Denton. Her book will be available for purchase on April 5.



Tips, Tools & Techniques to Care for Antiques, Collectibles and Other Treasures by Georgia Caraway

Publisher: UNT Press

Cover price: $14.95

Details: 144 pages; 25 illustrations

Release date: April 5, at bookstores everywhere and on