Is It Collectable, Vintage Or Antique?
Most people, especially women get a lift from shopping for new items for themselves or their household. Today, no matter what we purchase, almost everything comes from China and is machine-made, turned out in the millions.
The thrill of buying can soon fade when we discover that our new purchase is so common-place. No matter what country we are in, from Africa to Australia, we will find the same exact thing in the shops everywhere. Only the price differs.
The exception to this is to purchase either ‘handcrafted’ or antique..
First of all, by definition, what is an antique?
An antique is an item of value over one hundred years old.
If the item is aged between fifty and a hundred years it is considered ‘vintage’ although this point becomes a bit blurry after eighty years.
Any item under fifty years of age is merely ‘used’ or, in some cases, collectable..
Despite the above analysis, an ordinary metal bucket over a hundred years of age would not be classified as antique by most. However, there are collectors for such things and all things, including tools, have their niche among the hunted.
The beauty of antiques, be they furniture, objects d’art, clothing, shoes, china, crystal, whatever, is that they were generally hand-made of very high quality. They were made with such patience and extraordinary skill that they survive throughout the centuries. It would be so time-consuming to make any such objects today that no-one could afford to buy them, or if they could, the maker would have starved to death on what he was paid.
In this modern-day society of ‘throw-away’ stuff and fast technology, antiques are not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’.
Nevertheless, there are still a dedicated cadre of antique lovers wherever you may travel throughout the world.
Times and lifestyles have certainly changed and this has undoubtedly affected what collectors are looking for.
For example, our mothers and grandmothers prized their beautiful china. They lovingly hand washed the precious items. Today’s generation don’t want anything that doesn’t go in the dishwasher and the microwave. This is such a pity but we must consider that today’s women, unlike their ancestors, mostly go outside the home to work and are time poor. Sadly, the pleasure of dining from beautifully painted, fine china is noticeably lacking when rushing through a meal served on thick, white plates.
To a lesser degree, crystal has gone the same way as china.
People are having smaller families now. Couple this with the burgeoning price of heating and cooling homes and people are downsizing. The lower height of ceilings and smaller rooms limit the use of the wonderful timber furniture of yesteryear. It is too large and heavy for many homes. Considering much of the new furniture is machine made from particle board, this is indeed a great pity.
If you are one of the fortunate ones who own a larger home, there is no better time to purchase top quality antique furniture. It will last forever, look magnificent and can be purchased for a fraction of its value.
Smaller antique pieces of furniture still hold their value. It is the larger pieces that are generally, but not always, suffering. There will always be a buyer for something truly exceptional, no matter what the trend or price tag. Also, many householders are turning to very eclectic styles and mixing new with antique.
Antique jewellery and objects d’art still hold their value and continue to appreciate. Particularly the ‘higher end’ better quality or rare pieces. These are always a great investment. Today they are becoming harder and harder to find as people are hanging onto them and the pool continues to shrink.
There will always be people who love to collect antiques and people who deal in them. These are usually people who love the finer things in life, who love history and old buildings. They love the mystique of the piece or the history, if it is known. Such lovers of antiques wonder about the maker who put so much love and time into the object. They ponder and get such ongoing joy from ownership of these dwindling treasures.
These people, be they collectors or dealers, are inspired by a great passion. There is the excitement of the hunt; the overwhelming joy of discovering something rare and wonderful. Some ‘antiques people’ are passionate to the point that it is almost like a disease. This writer, a dealer, is one such person. The only way she can afford to own so many beautiful objects is to keep and love them for awhile before letting them pass on to be loved by another lucky owner.
As she says, “I could sell new things. It would be so much easier to go to the trade shows and buy replaceable items in large quantities; not only easier but more profitable as they generally have a higher profit margin. However, what would be the fun in that? My soul would shrivel.”