Antique Collectibles


Antique collectibles is a term used for any antique that a person would collect in multiples rather than as just one example. Someone may choose to collect antique ink wells and have many of them but most people will only have one Eastlake settee. The ink wells are defined as collectibles.

Antique or Vintage?

Sometimes an item is termed an antique collectible when it really isn't. It is easy to get confused about the terms. Generally speaking, an antique is anything that is at least 100 years old, except when referring to cars and some other items. Two other terms that are important are:

  • Vintage: An item is considered vintage when it is 25 years old and is used by professionals to describe items from  the 1960-1979 era.
  • Retro: Retro is a term used to describe items that were made in the 1950s.

However, the word vintage is often used to describe anything that is more than 25 years old but less than 100 years old. Some people use retro interchangeably with vintage which can make it even more confusing. Some antiques dealers would like to see that standard changed. They believe that items should be categorized as antiques when they are 50 years old. Others feel that it is important to leave the labels the way that they have been understood over the years.

It is important to keep in mind that these words are only labels. Some antiques can be less valuable than certain vintage or retro items, depending on rarity, popularity, and other criteria.

Collectibles Examples

Some of these highly desired items are household items, such as:

  • Utensils
  • Silverware
  • Toys
  • Textiles
  • Coins
  • Stamps
  • Hardware
  • Salt and Pepper shakers

Others are Ephemera, such as:

  • Postcards
  • Greeting cards
  • Posters
  • Trade Cards
  • Playing cards

Decorative items such as cut glass, music boxes, jewelry, and paperweights are one of the largest categories.

Purchasing Antique Collectibles

How can you find collectibles and ensure that you are getting the best price?

Price Guides

Pricing for antique collectibles is usually flexible, particularly if you buy multiple items from a shop, and it is inherently flexible at auction. While pricing depends on subtle factors as well as obvious ones, you can still get a sense of how much an item should cost. Price guides are available for nearly every kind of collectible antique that exists.

It is a good idea to get a price guide that covers the collectibles that you are most interested in, if possible. Some guides are specific to a manufacturer while others cover several different manufacturers or even different collectibles. Find one that best suits your needs.

  • Kovels: Kovels is a well known price guide and also has a website where you can identify and evaluate your collectibles.
  • TuffStuff: Tuff Stuff is a site for sports collectors and has price guides for sports cards and other collectibles.
  • Comics Price Guide: Before you throw away all those comics you bought in Junior High check the value with the Comics Price Guide.

Identify Fakes

It's hard to tell a fake item from an authentic one; even professionals get fooled on a disconcertingly frequent basis. In fact, there's even a Museum of Fakes in Salerno, Italy, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a Hall of Fakes and Forgeries, items from their collection that turned out to be fakes. Or for a fictional view, read Jonathan Gash's novels featuring antiques dealer and frequent forger Lovejoy. Again, books are your friends here, as books on antique collectibles often detail the most frequent signs of fakes. In the case of a large purchase, go to a dealer with a solid reputation and demand a detailed receipt. Also, it is important to ask for a certificate of authenticity when possible. These are usually given with Ephemera like autographs to guarantee that you are getting what you paid for.

Finding Collectibles

There are many places you can find your favorite collectibles both locally and online. Shopping in antique stores is a relaxing way to spend a day for many people. Some cities have specialty boutiques for collectible items as well. Of course, if you can't find what you are looking for in your neighborhood there are always online venues like Ruby Lane or Tias.

Buy What You Like

No matter what you love to collect there are others that love and collect that item as well. No matter how old or valuable something is if you don't like it then don't waste the money and display space on it. Buy what you love and enjoy your collection.

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