There are common questions that you will hear when you dive into the world of antiques. One of the more questions that you will hear is this—what exactly is the difference between collectible, antique and vintage?
The term collectible is often applied to items that are more valuable than what they originally sold for. I have also seen this term be applied to items that are newer than 20 years old.
When items are vintage, items in this area are at least 20 years old. Items are usually considered vintage up until they are 99 years old.
When you hear the term Antique, this applies to items that are at least 100 years old.
There are also other ways to describe the age of an item. What terms have you heard?
One of the areas that I love to collect is coins. Not too long after diving into coins, I heard of something called the Hobby Protection Act. This had me baffled—what exactly is the Hobby Protection Act and how does it apply to coins?
The Hobby Protection Act was passed in 1973 by the United States Congress. This act covers imitation political items (like buttons and posters) and even imitation Numismatic items (like coins, tokens and even paper money).
The Hobby Protection Act states that any imitation (or reproduction) political or numismatic item is made, it must be marked a certain way. When it comes to political items, it must have the year it was made on it with all 4 digits on it. With coins, it must have the word COPY somewhere on the design.
What is the reason for this act to get created? The main reason is that it’s to help protect collectors from deceptive reproductions.
So, it pays to look at the design so you don’t over pay for an item. Have you ever run across a political or numismatic item marked like this?
Think a sports card is a sports card? Far from it. There are a ton of different types of cards that you could find. Here’s a few:
Retail Card—these are cards that are sold to major retailers like Kmart. The cards will often have the name of the store printed on the card as well. You might even find a card from a now-defunct retailer.
Insert Card—these are cards that are inserted into packs at a staggered rate (like one card being inserted into every 24th pack). There is also a number on the back of every sports card. The number on the back of the insert card will be different than the normal set numbers. The normal set numbers will appear as 1-400 (or however many cards are in the set), the insert cards will have a number like ST1, or PL1. When you buy a pack, you never know what kind of insert card could be in there. There even could be a player who became much more famous later on.
Sell Sheets—these are not cards at all. They are ads that are sent to distributors for cards that are for sale to the public. This would show what cards you could get in the set and would show the players that are featured in the set. You could get these ads from a sports cards dealer for pretty cheap, or even free if the retailer is going to throw them away (it never hurts to ask them if it’s possible for you to have it). They’re also great to display along with a complete team collection!
So, what’s the rarest card that you’ve ever found?
Glass workers spent their “off” hours after completing their regular work schedule creating unusual glass objects known as whimsies. This includes candy-striped canes, paperweights, pipes, hats…the list goes on and on.
A whimsy can also be an item that is made of a product that you usually don’t see it made out of. This can be something like a Fenton plate made out of hobnail pattern slag glass.
Whimsies were often taken home and given as gifts to family and friends. They can rarely be attributed to a specific glasshouse or glass worker. Some say that color or style indicates region or factory, but no one has come up with a perfect identification key other than to talk to the person that actually made the piece.
Highly collectible and usually pricey, whimsies can be a fun collectible. What examples have you found?
While shopping at one of the local antique malls in my area, I happened onto something that could be a very good thing. It happened to be an R S Suhl shaker, or even possibly hat pin holder.
With the price being right, and some wear being present on the bottom of the shaker, I went ahead and bought it. When I went to find out what I could about the mark (so I could list it online), there was a little voice in the back of my head that was saying that something was not right.
And then I found a shaker just like the one that I have. I was thrilled! I started to read what was posted online about it, and sure enough, that little voice I was hearing was right. The thing was a reproduction and possibly even an outright fake.
The lesson I learned? A little research and knowledge can go a long way in the long run.
Did you know that there was actually a 2-cent coin that was produced by the United States mint?
The Two Cent piece officially ran from 1864 to 1872, but there was a copy made for collectors in 1873.
The economic turmoil of the American Civil War caused any and all government-issued coins to vanish from circulation (they were hoarded by the public) Even the Indian Head cent—which was made of bronze—was pretty much gone from circulation (The Coinage Act Of 1864 authorized the cent to switch to a bronze composition and the production of the Two Cent coin).
Even though there were other mints actively producing coins at the time, this coin was only produced at the mint based in Philadelphia. What this means is that there will not be a mint mark anywhere (which is the way this mint was marking the coins until 1980).
Two of the more famous die varieties happened in 1864. One is called the “large motto,” and the other is called the “small motto.” These two varieties deal with the motto, “In God We Trust.” The words IN, GOD, and TRUST has some small differences, while the word WE has the most differences. It all hinges on the size of it, and it is very noticeable. The WE on “large motto” is larger than the WE on the “small motto.”
The “small motto” is much scarcer than the “large motto.” The best idea is to keep an eye out for it in case you might walk across a case full of coins at a mall, or happen to be at a coin shop or show.
Pink, green, black and even red are only a few colors that you will see on glassware. There are so many that it will make your head spin! Here are some of the colors that you may have not heard of:
Jadeite—this is a type of glass for the table made of Jade-green opaque milk glass. Jadeite was popular in the United States in the mid-20th century and has a blue variety that’s called “Azur-ite”.
MONAX—this is a translucent white glass that has a faint blue hue when held up to the light. This unique colored glass is sometimes mistaken as milk glass (which is whiter in color).
Ruby Flashed glass—this is created by coating a clear glass with one or more thin layers of colored glass (this is also known as flashed glass). The colored glass can be either partly or completely etched away by using items like acid or sandblasting. This results in spots where the colored glass has been removed.
This is a ridiculously small portion of all the colors that you will run across. What have you seen?
Just about every company that has ever existed, they have used some form of advertising. In the age of the internet, you find tons of ads online. Before the advent of the Internet, one of the best forms of advertising was with a store display. Companies still use them today. They are made out of just about any material that you can think of, but one of the more common materials to use as an advertising piece is cardboard.
Once the sale on a certain item was over, or even when an item is discontinued, the display is taken down and discarded. Sometimes the displays are kept, either in the storeroom of the business, or the person running the store takes it home with them.
The great thing for collectors is that these displays are put up for sale after a while. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the products that are advertised on a display. It could be Jell-O, Duracell Batteries, or even Kodak Film.
Store displays can be great ways to decorate a room since many of them have more than one color printed on them. The ways that you could come up with to show your collection of displays are just as unique as the store displays themselves.
One of the oldest questions in collecting is when to clean—or not to clean—an item.
Sometimes an item’s value will go up if it is cleaned, and other times the items value will go down.
Some items are perfectly fine to clean. Costume jewelry, glassware, pottery, clothing from the 1970’s or the 1980’s, and even graniteware are perfect for this area. A little research can go a long way with these items, though. You need to find out what can and can’t be used on an item; cleaner can potentially do damage that can’t be undone. Things like graniteware can be cleaned with oven cleaner, while cheap costume jewelry can be cleaned with toothpaste that has baking soda in it. Even Alka-Seltzer can be used to clean jewelry.
There are some items that you should take to someone that knows what they are doing when it comes to cleaning. Artwork, antique books, pricy jewelry (pieces that feature precious stones like diamonds), quilts or antique clothing, and quilting samplers are items that fall in this category.
When it comes to old furniture, silver, gold, modern coins, brass or even copper, make sure that these don’t get cleaned. The best way to ruin the value of these items is to get out the cleaner. Patina on these pieces is a great thing to have; it helps prove an items age and provenance.
A great way to start is to get an appraisal of the item. This way you know what you have. If the item is in fact valuable and in the need of a cleaning, you could ask the appraiser for a recommendation.
I think the best rule of thumb is that if you have any doubts about cleaning an item, don’t! Once the original finish is gone, there’s no getting it back.
Have you ever cleaned an item that you wished you hadn’t?
There are the ultra-famous styles of furniture that everyone knows about (like Chippendale, Hepplewhite, or even Victorian) but did you know that there were quite a few styles that often were around with the more famous counterparts that are just not that well known?
The first one that I heard about that is like this is called DIRECTORIE. It ran from 1795 to about 1804 and ran the same time as the Sheraton and Duncan Phyfe styles (the Duncan Phyfe style is also called the Federal Style). Following the French Revolution, France was ruled by five directors. Any and all signs of royalty were thrown out the window, and furniture design was controlled by a Jury Of Arts and Manufactures. Greek, Roman, and even Egyptian influences are strong with the DIRECTORIE style.
The next style is called EASTLAKE and it ran from about 1879 to 1895. It ran the same time that Late French Provincial and the Victorian Styles were going on. This style was created by Charles Eastlake and achieved some popularity here in America and in England as well. The style had some Gothic flair going on and had some Japanese ornamentation as well. Cherry and Fruit were extensively used in the furniture of this style and had tile panels and conspicuous hardware that were used for decoration.
This is only a small portion of all the fantastic styles that I’ve heard of that really aren’t that well-known. What kinds of styles have you heard of?