DEFINING THE DIFFERENCE: Antiques, Collectibles and Vintage Items

There has been much debate over the last few years as to what constitutes an item as being vintage, an antique or a collectible. This can spark much controversy between the buyer and seller. Here are a few things to consider when in the market for the next object of your desire:



The textbook definition of an antique is as follows:

“Any work of art, piece of furniture, decorative object, or the like, created or produced in a former period, or, according to U.S. customs laws, 100 years before date of purchase.”

In recent years, dealers have begun to demand that the timeframe for the date of purchase be lowered from 100 to 50 years. Reputable dealers argue that upon doing so, the standard would allow collectibles to be categorized as antiques as well.


“Collectible” is used loosely to describe an object that is fewer than 100 years old, and is also in demand, and therefore of value. At times, buyers confuse a collectible for that of an antique, as the latter may have been produced close to the cutoff in being considered a part of the antiques family.





“Vintage” is a term originally used to mark the year or “vintage” of wine. Throughout the years, the word has been adopted by the jewelry world and is now applied to items around 25 years old that are making their way back into modern fashion. For example, the flapper trend of the 1920’s was revisited numerous times throughout the 20th century and once again in 2013, adding a “vintage” appeal to the presentation.

While some “vintage” or collectible items look as though they could fall within the antiques category, it is best to seek an expert opinion and appraisal to confirm the true date of production and determine which side of the line the item(s) fall.

If you like this article, then you might enjoy other articles in our archives, such as A Fish Tale Tale You’ve Never Heard Before.

Liberty Coin & Currency specializes in rare coins and currency. We are a family-owned business located in Portland and Vancouver. We are also gold, silver, diamond, currency and jewelry buyers. Visit us first for a free evaluation.

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