Antique, Collectible, Or Just Plain Junk?

What's the difference between "antique" and "vintage" or "collectible?"

Oh, about a hundred bucks.

By the way, have you ever noticed that, even though most of us probably say it as "antique shop," most stores that sell old stuff call themselves "antiques shops?" That may be a distinction only an English major could love, but it does make a difference.

Here's why, if you want to get nitpicky about it (and of course editors always do—it's what we get paid the big bucks for). An "antique shop" would be a very old store that may or may not sell old stuff. An "antiques shop" would be a store that may or may not be old itself but that sells very old stuff.

Which means you'd better be careful to refer to the mature lady who is explaining the provenance of that 18th century chamber pot as an "antiques dealer" rather than an "antique dealer" if you want to get a decent deal.

But back to the definitions. It's really quite simple.

1. Any object that was made during my lifetime absolutely cannot be an "antique."

2. Any object that I remember being used in our household when I was a child is not an antique. It may, just barely, with caution, be referred to as "vintage."

3. Any object that I have personally used in my adult life is not "vintage." It might possibly be considered "collectible."

4. Calling a new object that is mass-produced in the millions a "collectible" does not automatically make it a potentially valuable investment. (Beanie Babies, anyone?)

5. Sometimes old junk is just old junk. Describing a 15-year-old computer as an "antique" will not help you get rid of it at a yard sale.

Suppose, however, an object of a certain age is in my possession and I want to sell it. If calling it "antique" rather than "vintage" will increase the price, I could live with that. If you're willing to buy it, you can call it whatever you like.

Just be sure your check is good. Otherwise you may discover a whole different meaning to the term "collectible."

Categories: Words for Nerds | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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