For collectors, winter can be one of the cruelest seasons. The lack of flea markets, antique shows and other warmer-weather pursuits steers us to online retailers and other forms of sustenance. Books – especially beautifully photographed design and antique books – can be another way to survive the drought. Here a few new ones I’ve come across that are well worth checking out.

"The Tile Book: History, Pattern, Design" (Thames & Hudson, $29.95). If, like me, you’ve never given tile much thought, you will be reformed after perusing this fascinating and beautiful book. This visual history and source book of ceramic tile covers the middle ages through the 21st century, with a diverse range of colors and patterns sure to provide inspiration for a wide range of home projects.

Both functional and decorative, the book traces the medium’s history from 13th-century Europe through now with photos that range from early Islamic designs and 17th-century Dutch Delftware to graphic patterns from the 21st century. Produced with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and curated by Here Design studio, this source book will assure you no longer take tile for granted.

"William Morris’s Flowers" (Thames & Hudson, $19.95). If winter’s inevitable doldrums have struck, this beautiful book will provide a delightful antidote. One of the leading proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris designed wallpaper and fabrics based on the natural world that remain popular today.

Some 600 designs – most with trees, plants and flowers – are attributed to the renowned and talented 19th-century British designer. The book traces his designs to his own gardens, medieval and Renaissance tapestries and items he saw from the Islamic world at London’s Victoria & Albert museum. “Morris’s genius as a designer lay in his ability to distill the wild, rambling countryside into the beautiful, well-ordered patterns of the home,” writes author Rowan Bain in her preface. “So successful was he that today many of his patterns have never been out of production.”

"Costume and Fashion Vintage Jewelry" (Self-published; $60). “Jewelry to live for,” reads the tag line of this extensive three-part labor of love by New York collector and one-time auctioneer Eleanore Sue McMillan.

Fans of vintage jewelry will ogle eye-candy that includes full-page photographs of works by well-known designers as well as lesser-known discoveries, including Viglini, Menichetti and Walsh-Chin. Useful sections include a history of costume jewelry making (who knew that Providence, Rhode Island, was once the industry capital?) and information on real versus costume, fakes and forgeries, buying tips and more.

McMillan retired in 2000 after 50 years in the business and is a passionate supporter of the industry and collecting specialty. Her book had me pulling out my own sparkly vintage brooches and happily affixing them to sweaters and jackets –  yet another way to get through winter.

Contact Khristi Zimmeth at

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