These new books focus on special areas that are gaining popularity in the marketplace, and are written by collectors and dealers who impart their enthusiasm and knowledge.
In "Samplers and Samplermakers: An American School Girl Art," by Mary Jane Edmunds (Rizzoli, $40), which accompanies an exhibition now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the author lets each sampler tell its own story and relates sampler making to women's education in the 18th and 19th centuries.
"Buttons," by Diana Epstein and Millicent Safro (Abrams, $49.50), illustrates the comprehensive collection of buttons stashed away over the last 25 years by the owners of Tender Buttons, the store on East 62nd Street in New York where you can match the button you lost or find a whole new set. It is a visually thrilling history of the decorative arts through buttons. The photographs by John Parnell catch every detail of the most intricate micromosaics and mother-of-pearl masterpieces pierced, carved, layered and enhanced with foils and jewels.
"Victorian Jewelry," by Ginny Redington Dawes and Corinne Davidov (Abbeville, $40), shows off the non-precious gems of Victorian jewelry made of tortoise shell, cut steel, silver, Berlin iron, aluminum, gun metal, hair, agate and jet. The bangle bracelets, lockets, collars, agate brooches and safety brooches (which have patented secure padlocks), pictured in gorgeous photographs, are to die for, and the text is informative and easy to read.
"Cuff Links," by Susan Jonas and Marilyn Nissenson (Abrams, $35), showcases cuff links, which first appeared on the scene in the early 19th century and were made in every style and material, some by illustrious jewelers.
"Gems of Costume Jewelry," by Gabrielle Greindl (Abbeville, $65), translated from the German, is a short history of the art of imitation, beginning at the close of the 17th century in England and reaching new heights in 18th century France in the hands of Georges Frederic Stras, the Alsatian born goldsmith and jewelry dealer. The mass production of rhinestones, which began in Germany in the 19th century, reached enormous proportions in the 20th century when a simple dress demanded luxurious jewelry. Fine examples are pictured to size in rich color photographs, making this well-researched book a dazzling coffee table ornament.
Books often follow the market and sometimes expand it. "Lloyd Loom: Woven Fiber Furniture," by Lee J. Curtis (Rizzoli, $37.50), discusses a kind of furniture collected in England and America. The woven wired fiber was patented by Marshall B. Lloyd in 1917 and is still used for baby prams, tables, chairs, sofas, chairs, hampers and vases. The book tells how to date them, picturing all the labels and date stamps and detailing the characteristics that differentiate the American products from the Lloyd Loom "Lusty" line made in Britain.
"Navajo Pictorial Weaving 1880 to 1950: Folk Art Images of Native Americans," by Tyrone Campbell and Joel and Kate Kopp (Dutton, $32.50), is written by three dealers to show the cross-cultural influences on Navajo weavers. Grouping rugs according to designs incorporating birds, flowers, livestock, human figures, buildings, flags, trains, cars and planes and those inspired by American Indian sand painting and Kachina dolls, they document a traditional art.
"Picture Perfect Art Deco Photo Frames 1926-1946," by Steve Starr (Rizzoli, paperback, $30), presents 100 of the finest examples in this hot collectible.
"Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics: Marvel," by Les Daniels (Abrams, $45), makes a case for comic books as an art form and provides a readable history of the comic book on the eve of the first big-time comic book and comic book art auction at Sotheby's.
"Textile Designs: 200 years of Printed Fabrics, Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout and Period," by Susan Mellor and Joost Elffers (Abrams, $65), a coffee table swatch book with bright color pictures of 1,823 printed fabrics, is more than a short history of textile printing or a source book for designers or a key for dating quilts and costumes. It is an artful game designed by a collector and an artist which teaches us to see everyday patterns previously overlooked. The fun is in guessing when a particular print was made and guessing wrong most of the time.
For stocking stuffers: Tiny Folios of "Audubon's Birds of America," "The Great Book of Currier and Ives' America" and "Norman Rockwell, 332 Magazine Covers," first published in large-format to retail at $185, have been reduced to pocket size, 4 by 4 inches (Abbeville Press, $10.95 each).
Wrap them all up in the new "Gift Wraps by Artists," featuring patterns selected by Joost Elffers: "Roses," from designs by master flower painters, 1870 to 1920, in the collection of the Design Library in New York, and "Navajo Designs," from the collections of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe (Abrams, $14.95 each).