Book Review – ‘Shows, Shops & Auctions’ by Amy Gale

I’m a great believer in supporting self-publishers. After all, I am one myself. So I was delighted when New York-based antiques journalist Amy Gale contacted me offering a copy of her new book, ‘Shows, Shops & Auctions‘. Gale is a prolific American writer, researcher and journalist who has written columns and articles for many notable antiques and interiors publications including the Maine Antique Digest, Antiques & Fine Art, Antiques & Collecting Magazine, Antiques + Auction and Antique Week. Her book is effectively a compilation of selected columns and articles from some of these, bolstered with new hitherto unpublished articles.
I think I’d like to meet Amy. She sounds like a canny, clever and communicative type, as well as one who has experienced many more areas of the antiques world than most people. I bet she has a great many more tales than she packs into this nicely sized book. But, on the whole, what she writes isn’t very cheery or positive. I’d advise anyone who is thinking of going into the antiques business to read this book and then seriously think about whether they still want to continue with that career path. It’s certainly a strong reality check.
ShowsShopsAuctionsAmyGaleLOAfter 18 very varied years in the industry, I got half way through reading it and almost decided to stop reading. Yes, she tells the cold, unromantic truth, such as the effects on the trade of the recent financial crisis, but her tales are tinged with depression and, dare I say it, occasional bitterness. The story of her experience at a Miami show is amusing and perceptively observed, but somehow lacks an indication of her passion for the objects or industry. Or maybe the fact that she has stuck with it all for so long indicates that? She paints perky portraits of some quirky characters, but somehow they lack the colour and vibrancy of the ‘unique’ types that make up those who work with antiques. Later stories can verge on being soul-destroyingly glum, which is the emotion you feel Gale was experiencing at the time. She’s certainly stoic.
Maybe you will feel differently when you read it. The dose of cold, hard truth is strangely refreshing after a number of books filled with largely improbable, almost comic characters more likely to be found in a Sunday evening’s gentle TV melodrama. If you already work in the antiques business, expect to ask yourself questions about yourself and why you do what you do. Don’t expect to feel warm and to leap out of bed the next morning with renewed vigour for your passions and beloved career.
Published via Amazon under the Witlings Press brand, copies are available for a very reasonable $8.99 by clicking here. Even though the book is about ‘old things’, you can order a very contemporary eBook version for your Kindle at $2.06. Visit Amy’s website,, which is packed with essays and articles about many different facets of the antiques trade.

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