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A thinner book than one would have anticipated a year ago, this guide faces many challenges, not least of which is that, as with so many publications to do with technology, and especially the Web, it is out of date the moment it is published.

To a great degree, this does not matter; as far as is possible, Caroline Peacock who has compiled and edited this guide, sets out her intentions in doing so clearly, and it is a clarity matched by the layout and approach in the assessment of individual sites – the bulk of the guide’s content.

“The purpose of this guide is to help those who want to make use of the Internet, perhaps for the first time, to find out about antiques,” her introduction begins. Further explanation makes it clear that this is a guide to information-based sites rather than a map of online auctions and dealerships, although major auction houses that offer useful data and background alongside sales information are included. But, as the introduction goes on to explain, this book’s most valuable contribution to art and antiques is cutting through the suffocating swathe of sites thrown up by search engines when the word ‘antiques’ is tapped in.

The listings are no more than Caroline Peacock’s own selection, but with a background in porcelain and other antiques, she should have a better idea than many. So does she?

How can anyone working for the Antiques Trade Gazette disagree when our site is included at the top of the list for journals with good sites! Given an overall rating of five stars, Caroline Peacock writes: “Eminently clear and rapid in construction, this Website certainly deserves a visit from anyone seriously interested in antiques, not only those in the trade.” Clearly an expert.

It seems churlish to raise two quibbles, so here goes: the main Web address for the Gazette is actually www.antiquestradegazette.com rather than the one listed and we are a newspaper, not a magazine. I’m sorry, that was churlish.

But what of other sites included?
The BADA wins only three stars (points knocked off for navigation), but the leading dealer association has just announced a revamp which should add to the score. Interestingly, unlike the other leading dealer association site, LAPADA, which is included under the General Gateways section, the BADA site is to be found under Fairs and Events. QXL is listed as one of the leading art and antiques auction sites though, since the book went to press the company has announced it was quitting the antiques market. Gone also is, for me, the lamented theauctionchannel.com, and, as with the Gazette, online information service Invaluable’s entry is outdated, being listed under its old name of Thesaurus, which when you click on it simply tells you the database is being updated (www.invaluable.com puts you straight through).

This all sounds rather picky. The ratings tables for each site, together with the brief introduction to their content and purpose is exactly what one needs as a taster for Web browsing. Any further detail can be picked up from the site itself. There’s a useful glossary and index at the back.

All in all, this is a very handy guide for the Web/antiques virgin, but one that will need to be updated annually to hold its value, a factor taken into account by the authors who promise further reviews and regular updates when you register on their Website.