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The Difference Between Antiques And Vintage Items

Monday, June 8th, 2020
learn about different types of auctions at High Plains Auctioneers

If you like to shop for bargains, especially on older items, you may or may not be familiar with the terms antique and vintage. Retro, collectible, and classic are other terms you have probably run across. There are differences between these types of items. It is important to know what they are before buying any antiques or vintage objects.

What are antiques?

Many people will try to pass items off as antiques, whether intentionally or on accident. Most experts in the field and the United States Customs Service define antiques as items that are 100 years or older. This is pretty simple, but actually finding out how old an object is may not be as easy to understand.

If you are interested in buying antiques, it helps to know what you are getting beforehand. For example, if you are buying something online or bidding on something you found in an auction catalog, do some research first. You can also get into the community of antiques and find experts to help you identify items. Here are some other tips that can help you.

  • Learn about the common characteristics of any items you like, including condition, markings, and general look.
  • Know how to identify reproductions, restorations, and fakes.
  • Learn about more detailed styles like Art Deco, Edwardian, and more.
  • Look for the history surrounding the item. This can help you identify things more quickly.

What are vintage items?

You may hear the word collectible and vintage in the same context, as the former word was used most often for items that weren’t antiques, but still desired. Popular collectibles included (and still include) clothing, jewelry, postcards, stamps, furniture, and more.

Today, the term vintage refers to any items that people may be shopping for from at least the 1940s to the 1980s. Many online and in-person shops have designated vintage items to be 20 years or older, but not 100 years or older. Still, some collectors do not include items from the 1990s in the “vintage items” category, preferring to call these collectibles.

Tips for finding antiques and vintage items at auction

One of the best ways to get both of these types of treasures is to attend local and online auctions. The following can help you be successful at auction.

  1. Always do your research. Auction catalogs list out the items that are being sold, so you should always be prepared with knowledge.
  2. Don’t be afraid to look at auctions outside of your city. If you are able to travel, looking somewhere else can get you some great deals. For example, some areas may be hubs for antiques, including very small, old towns. You never know what you may find at estate auctions in these areas.
  3. Online auctions can be a good choice for people that cannot travel or that don’t have local auctions nearby. But, chances are that there are many more bidders interested in the same vintage and antique items you like.
  4. If you have never been to a public auction, visit one first. This will give you an idea of how they work and how bidders get things done. Watch for patterns that can help or hinder your own bidding techniques.
  5. Get to the event early. Many auction houses allow for pre-viewings of the items for sale. This will let you get a better look at what you will be bidding on.
  6. Develop and stick to a budget. This will help you both in the short term and in the long run.
  7. Know the rules of the auction house or website, including how to pay and get your items.

Looking to find treasures at auction?

At High Plains Auctioneers, we host a variety of auctions throughout the year, including antique and estate auctions. Our events are held in-person and online, and we always include a catalog to get you started. For more information, call us at (806) 244-6776 or Send Us an email. You can also view our Upcoming Auctions to see what we will have available soon!