Behind the Spine: Calling attention to the Warman’s Advantage

The voice on the phone was nice. A little concerned, but nice.

“It’s changed,” said the woman calling from Indiana. “It’s not the same as it used to be. I think I like it, Warman's-2016but it’s very different from what I expected.”

The caller, a longtime subscriber to Antique Trader, had just purchased a copy of Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2016. She bought the book regularly years ago, she said, but hadn’t picked one up in a while. Just how long ago? 1999, she said a bit sheepishly after finding a copy on her bookshelf.

Yes ma’am, things have changed a bit since then.

First produced in 1948, Warman’s has evolved dramatically over the years. That 1999 edition was a big, black-and-white price guide boasting lists and lists of descriptions and prices, and hundreds of grainy photos. In its day, that edition of Warman’s was one of the leading guides on the market. One dedicated editor made it all happen.

Today’s edition, however, is big, bold and beautiful, featuring 2,500 color images and expertly curated content.

While Warman’s continues to include prices, I would argue that value has taken on new meaning. Yes, prices play an important role in the guide. But true value – insight, trends, perspective, history and place – means so much more today.

A large and diverse team of Krause editors, buttressed with input from a slew of contributors, dealers, collectors and some of the finest auction houses in the country, make Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles possible. While our erudite outside editor Noah Fleisher sets the tone for the book, it’s longtime Krause Publications editor Mary Sieber who keeps the yearlong process humming. Truth be told, Sieber’s duties often look a lot like herding cats. But Sieber, who has edited magazines and books on a variety of antiques and collectibles for more than 30 years, manages to keep us moving forward. Thorough, passionate and detail-oriented, Sieber is one of the finest editors I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Warman's Jewelry category

A sample page from the jewelry category of Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2016.

Although the book is published annually, almost all the material is new. The fresh content reflects an ever-evolving market. Sieber, who has processed tens of thousands of images and items for the book over the years, says her mission is simple – even if the execution is complex.

“While our goal is to provide readers with a well-rounded representation of each collecting genre, we’ve determined that only the best of the best is included in Warman’s,” Sieber says. “We include only the best-quality images of the most important items in terms of historical significance, provenance and current value.”

Those editorial decisions are then married to a look and feel that celebrates style and substance. That’s where designer Nicole MacMartin enters.

“The design of Warman’s challenges the delicate balance of reader convenience and visual aesthetic,” says MacMartin, a thoughtful and skilled designer who has earned distinction while working on the book for a couple of years. “The content – images and text – needs to be clearly presented in such a way that a reader can easily navigate while remaining visually appealing.”

Looking for an exceptional antiques and collectibles guide and a little out of the ordinary? Turn to Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles, 49th edition. Pick up your print or digital copy at Click T6091 for the print edition, or T6092 for the ebook, and be sure to use Discount Code WAC49 to save an additional 10% and enjoy free shipping to U.S. addresses. Offer valid thru 9/22/15.

That’s a tall order with an 800-page book known for its diversity. Yet the book has to be about more than data. Thus, the overarching editorial philosophy of Warman’s is to educate and inspire. A lofty goal, for sure, but in a field fueled by beauty, shape and form no one aspires to be ordinary.

“I enjoy working on Warman’s,” MacMartin says. “I love that moment in designing when images and text work harmoniously together – balancing the space of the page so they feel as though they had always been there.”

“The content and design of Warman’s will continue to set the bar high in the Antique and Collectibles community,” MacMartin promises, “evolving as readers’ needs and interests change.”

So yes, my dear caller from Indiana, Warman’s has changed. And I’m confident you will like what you see.

Pk About our columnist:
Paul Kennedy is the Editorial Director of Antiques & Collectibles Books, Krause Publications. Have a book suggestion or a question about our book line? You can contact Paul at 715-445-2214 ext. 13470 or via email at