Antique, Collectible or Vintage?


rachelDid last week’s Spring weather send you to the attic or basement to de-clutter? Did you find a thingamajig and wonder: What is It? Can I sell it? Where? These days we hear and see the terms antique, collectible, and vintage bandied about on popular TV shows, the web, and in casual conversation. Did you find an antique or collectible? What do those terms mean really?

In the US an antique is generally 100 or more years old. There are exceptions such as antique cars. Since cars have barely been around one hundred years, they become antiques at a younger age. According to Wikipedia, an auto earns the title after its forty-fifth birthday. Older couples visit my shop and one will joke that he or she brought me an antique, referring to the spouse. I always laugh wholeheartedly, but really a spouse would have to be a centenarian in order to be an antique. A word of caution . . . not every item for sale in an antiques store is an antique. If you want to know how old an item is, ask! Reputable dealers will tell you the age if they know it and say honestly if they don’t know.

Collectibles on the other hand can be much younger and include a wide range of products. Generally collectibles are at least twenty years old. Antiques shop owners who advertise their wares as antiques and collectibles often carry items less than one hundred years old in categories such as art pottery, books, framed art, furniture, glassware, paper and ephemera, porcelain, and more. You can also find specialized collectibles stores that carry books, comic books, records, and sports collectibles. Exceptions to the twenty year age guideline include fads (remember the Beanie Baby craze) and contemporary collectibles sold new in the box in retail stores around the country.

Of these three terms, vintage is probably the most misused. When used in web listings, vintage often means ‘used or second hand of some age.’ It’s used to prop up the item descriptions and try to add credibility. Actuallyvintageshould be used with artifacts the same way it’s used with wine. You might say, “This is my grandmother’s vintage 1940s tablecloth,” or “Here is an example of antique majolica pottery, vintage 1900s.” ‘Vintage’ plus date denotes age and time period.

As you do Spring cleaning this year, look for antiques, collectibles, and items of a certain vintage. Once you categorize them, you can determine pricing and the best venue for selling.

Rachel Glenn is part owner of Rachel’s Attic Antiques and Collectibles in Dandridge, Tennessee and has been dealing in antiques and collectibles for twelve years and selling online for nine years.

Source: Rachel Glenn