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ON the subject of price guides, it will be interesting to see how Judith Miller’s antiques list with Dorling Kindersley will fare – she signed with them last September. The list will include price guides and sourcebooks but in the meantime here’s one we’ve read earlier, i.e. every year since 1988, back when we were innocents who collected beermats.

Now, we have an insatiable and unhealthy interest in crime; on telly, in the newspapers and on the street; and we now collect it. This edition includes a section on this gruesomeness and includes a seriously nasty American toy: a – wait for it – battery-operated plastic electric chair which gives a shock, sold in the US as a tourist souvenir item. Shock is about right. There’s also a section on firefighting memorabilia... as in post-September 11, and many of the pieces illustrated in this section come from an American sale of pieces from this new collecting arena with the comment that the “objects fetched high prices”.

Emotions can always be turned into cash and it is noted that part – note part – of the proceeds of the sale went to the Uniformed Firefighters’ Association Widows’ and Children’s Fund in New York City.

On Doulton, this year’s section includes a section of 263 lots of desirable prototype figures from the Royal Doulton archive which sold through Phillips with a sale totalling more than £423,000, proving the pulling power of these post-WWII figures.

To collectors, Bonhams expert Mark Oliver offers this advice: “Don’t buy from a large volume limited edition, and allow a three- to five-year period before anticipating an appreciation in price.”

Back in the unreal world of collectables, this edition of Millers Collectables Price Guide 2002/2003 includes collectable lavatories, owls and Tupperware, Mabel Lucie Attwell “Boo-Boos” figures, a pair of Biba glitter rubber wellies (£125-150) and sure to increase in value, a signed black and white photograph c.1970s of Margaret Thatcher, currently estimated at £150-175. I’m thinking of putting my unused Spitting Image Mrs Thatcher white pottery teapot into a bank vault. Here it is estimated at a mere £90-120.

As much a comment on social history as a collectables guide, 6000 new entries testify to our collective contemporary collectomania.