Antique, Vintage or Collectible: What Is The Difference?

Ever wonder about the distinction between antiques, vintage and collectibles? Florence Martin of Westland London, architectural antiques specialists, guides us through the differences.

All too often, the words antique, vintage and collectible are used interchangeably, but there are distinctions between the three terms. Once you understand the differences, you will be better equipped to recognise when the item was made and realise its value.  

Florence Martin of Westland London explains the difference between antique, vintage and collectible as an aide to buying period pieces.

Q: What is an antique?

A: Many specialists consider ‘antiques’ items which are 100 years of age or older. Reputable antique dealers also value objects of 100 years or more according to their condition, aesthetics, rarity or historical significance.

Antiques, Vintage or Collectible?
Image: Chandelier – Westland London

Q: How can you identify if an item is an antique?

A: Learning to identify each era and period style is a good place to start. You can learn by browsing auction houses and antique fairs and studying catalogue descriptions. Or visit architectural salvage specialists to identify items from specific periods; for example, furniture from the Victorian age will often be made of dark wood such as mahogany or walnut and feature carved embellishments.

Image: Antique Mantel Clock – Westland London

The more you look, the more you learn to discern the difference between period styles and the greater your awareness of whether something is antique, vintage or reproduction– whether it is Georgian (circa 1800-1830), Victorian (circa 1830-1890), Art Nouveau (circa 1890-1910) or Art Deco (1920s and 1930s)). A reputable dealer will describe items they sell with accuracy and be a valuable source of information.

Image: Candlabra – Westland London

Q: What is vintage?

A: We usually describe vintage as at least 20 years old and less than 100 years old. Whether it is clothing or furniture or lighting, it should also be characteristic of a particular fashion from a specific year or decade and reflect the tastes of that era.

Vintage, mid-century furniture and lighting are highly coveted by those seeking to add a retro touch to their interior.


Q: What is collectible?

A: Collectibles cannot be attributed to age. Collectibles can be anything from postage stamps to railway memorabilia, clothing or toys. A ‘collectible’ is an all encompassing term and is not necessarily old or rare.


Q: Are collectibles valuable?

A: Value of collectibles often depends on how sought after items are. The more in fashion and in demand, the more collectible; more so, if items are hard to come by. Trends and events can increase value; for example, music legends or royal wedding memorabilia. Collectors place high value on items in good condition, whether antique, vintage or collectible.


Q: What are the best tips for buying antiques, vintage and collectibles?

A: When it comes to buying, do as much research beforehand as you possibly can. It is important to ask the right questions regarding the age or period of an item, its rarity and condition. Buy from a reputable source. A knowledge of how in demand something is will establish whether the piece is currently collectible. But trends change and items out of fashion today can become the collectibles of tomorrow.

Image: Interior – Westland London

Westland London : St. Michael’s Church, Leonard St, London EC2A 4QX.

Tel : 020 7739 8094

Further reading: We chat to Guinevere’s Marc Weaver for his tips on buying antiques.

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One thought on “Antique, Vintage or Collectible: What Is The Difference?

  1. However, it should be known that the label antique , vintage or collectible has no real effect on the value of an item. The value of an item is determined more by whether there is a demand for it. There are very rare antiques which are sold for much less than a newer collectible, but this is because there is no demand for the rare antique and a high demand for the newer collectible.

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