Antique? Collectible? Vintage? What is it?

Hello everyone and thank your for visiting!  For my first blog post, I wanted to discuss three terms that are often used interchangeably:  antique, collectible and vintage.  I would like get into what each means, how they are different and if there is any overlap. 

Let’s go the the dictionary to begin our quest to understand.

Antique:  a work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at an earlier period and according to various customs laws at least 100 years ago.

Collectible:  an object that is collected by fanciers.  Especially : one other than such traditionally collectible items as art, stamps, coins, and antiques.

Vintageof wine of, relating to, or produced in a particular vintage  of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : dating from the past.  

What is an Antique?

antique stoneware jug
Stoneware jug, courtesy of

All of the definitions that I have seen online, including the one above make it obvious that an antique needs to be at least 100 years old.  So, if it was made before 1920, this object is considered to be an antique.  Does that mean that anything that is 100 years or older considered an antique?  No.  Other definitions that I saw online implied  that it must carry some value due to its craftsmanship or market demand.  Of course no specific dollar value is given but it must be enough to sell in the marketplace (eBay, antique show, etc).  

Surely early American furniture, 19th century oil paintings, and fine pre-1920 Persian rugs would be considered antiques.

What is a Collectible?

mickey mantle baseball card
1950’s Mickey Mantle, courtesy of

At first glance, it seems that anything that a collector might consider adding to their collection would be a collectible.  However, the definition above seems to distinguish them from traditionally collected items such as antiques, coins and art.  It appears the definition is saying that collectibles are things that might fit into the miscellaneous category.  Upon further research, collectibles are generally less than 100 years old, which is the cutoff for antiques.  

Old die-cast (matchbox) cars, baseball cards, and autographs are a few categories of collectibles.

What is Vintage?

According to the definition above, the word vintage applies to which season of grapes was used to produce a bottle of wine.  This word was then applied to objects from a different generation or something that holds a nostalgic value.  Most agree that vintage items are older than 20 or 25 years but older than 100.  The term, retro, is another word that seems similar to vintage.  Overall, vintage seems to be a word that is used in describing a collectible and is commonly seen in eBay item titles. In other words, “vintage” seems to be a word often used to describe collectibles.  


These three words describe items that are at least 20 years old and some older than 100 years.  In the end, different collectors enjoy items that could be described by one, two or all three words.  For example, I put my duck decoys page under my Antiques category. Even though many of those hunting decoys are from the 1800’s, many of them are also made after 1920.  Therefore, it is very difficult to specifically say that something is just an antique. 

How do you think I did with my classification of items as either antiques or collectibles?  Check out the rest of my website to see!  Below are some antiques, vintage items and collectibles on eBay right now!