“That was a very well-spent 50 p,” she told the man, who responded with British understatement: “Wow. Gosh.”
Ms. Miller was a history student at the University of Edinburgh when she began buying cheap antique plates from local junk shops to brighten up the walls of her student digs. Intrigued by their history, she began to research and collect in earnest.
With her first husband, Martin Miller, she wrote the first “Miller’s Antiques Price Guide.” Published in 1979, it was an instant success, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. After the couple divorced in the early 1990s, Ms. Miller continued to produce books on collectibles and antiques; she had completed more than 100 at her death.
Her own collecting ranged from 15th-century porcelain to midcentury modern furniture. She was addicted to auctions, she told The Telegraph: “I get sweaty palms, my heart starts beating faster, and I start glaring at anyone bidding against me.”
She loved costume jewelry, as well as pieces by the Danish silversmith Georg Jensen and chairs, which she bought in abundance. She was agnostic with regard to period and preferred buying single chairs to buying sets. Her favorites included an 18th-century ladder-back chair, an Arne Jacobsen piece from 1955 and a Queen Anne chair from 1710. When Ms. Miller set out on an antiques expedition, Mr. Wainwright invariably sent her off with these words:
“Repeat after me: We do not need one more single chair.”
Judith Henderson Cairns was born on Sept. 16, 1951, in Galashiels, Scotland. Her father, Andrew Cairns, was a wool buyer, and her mother, Bertha (Henderson) Cairns, was a homemaker.
Judith grew up in an antiques-free household; she always said that her parents were part of the “Formica generation.” She had planned to be a history teacher, but in 1974 she took a job as an editorial assistant at Mr. Miller’s publishing company.