What Is Considered Antique?

24 April 2018

In today’s culture, the trend of vintage and antique has taken the world by storm. However, this increase in popularity has lead to many replicas being made to look replicate the ‘antique’ or ‘vintage’ look. Some of the imitations are done to the highest quality; yet, these items are simply not authentic and cannot be considered an antique. In our guide, we will help you learn the difference between vintage and antique, as well as explore the different marks and features to look out for when investing in antiques.


A general rule to live by is that an antique is an item that is 100 years old or more. In the US, the government put a tax law into effect in the 1930s which stated that any item that had been crafted before 1830 would be considered an antique, as this is when the ‘Era of Mass Production’ is thought to have begun. Antique items include works of art, furniture, illustrations, pottery, objects or ornamental character or educational value alongside many other items found today.


Vintage items are those that have been around for less than 100 years but more than 25 years. However, there has been much controversy of late over this subject, as many deem reproduction items of clothing that were popular in a previous era to be ‘vintage’, regardless of that fact they have been produced in recent years. When it comes to appliances, furniture, cars and art, however, the rule is usually anything older than 25 years is considered to be a vintage item.


Another interesting term that many may have heard of is the ‘collectable’. There is no real definition of a specific age for something to be classed as a collectable; however, this would usually signify an object, or set of objects, of which only a limited number were created, thus having considerable worth. Often antique books can become a collectable item, and the same goes for many other antique objects. This term is much broader and loosely used than antique or vintage.


One of the key factors in determining whether a piece of antique or not will be the style or period, such as Chippendale, Sheraton and Queen Anne. The identifying features of these eras help to distinguish the time in which they were created, and a trained eye will be able to spot these differences, even when the pieces are very similar in design. For example, the styles of a foot of a chair, or a table leg can often be the key to distingushing which era a piece is from.


When seeking out the authenticity, period or style of an antique, the more knowledge you have, the better you will be at identifying the best antique purchases. There are many ways in which you can improve upon your antique knowledge, including research and taking advice from experts in the industry; our previous blog about ways to improve your antique knowledge may prove useful reading.

As time passes and you expand your antique collection, you will gain a better understanding of the history of antique furniture and be better able to pick out any replicas or fakes. You should also utilise the knowledge of your local antique dealer, as they can offer you advice and help to encourage and accelerate your learning! Take a look at our blog to find a plethora of pieces on different eras of antique furniture, as well as tips and tricks for collecting and plenty more!