I just returned from my weekly expedition of visiting antique malls. Let me tell you, one really should know the difference between antiques, vintage items, and collectables before purchasing, and it’s really not that hard.
If you are specifically looking for antiques, the rule of thumb is, items made 100 years ago or longer. Why 100 years? That is the time in history when most items stopped being made by hand and started being massed produced.
According to Michael Flanigan, an American furniture expert on the PBS Antiques Road Show most antique dealers abide by the 100 year rule.
The U.S. Customs Office, defines an antique using the Tariff Act of 1930, which states that antiques are defined as items, (except rugs and carpets made after the 1700’s) made before the 1830’s. Antiques are valued by their condition, and when they were made.
So many people today are displaying their items as antique, when in reality they are vintage pieces. Vintage refers to a specific year or era. Vintage can be described as “old fashion”. Vintage usually dates back around 30 to 50 years ago. Your grandmother’s rotary phone would be considered vintage. The value of vintage items depends on their condition and age or era they were made.
Another category is Collectables. Collectables are not from any specific era or date. They are items pertaining to a person’s interest. Collectables are divided into two categories, Curio Collectables- small items such as figurines, plates or nick knacks of unusual characteristics and special interest to the collector.
Manufactured Collectables- are items made especially for the purpose of collecting. Matchbox cars or beanie babies are manufactured collectable.
Manufactured items also include Special Editions, Deluxe Editions, and Limited Editions pieces. Collectables are valued based upon your special interest in them.
These are some guide lines I have written to help you assay what you are looking for and the value they may have, whether monetary or personal, for you.