Vintage vs. Antique vs. Collectible | What’s the difference?

There is a slew of common terms that people use every day when shopping on eBay, yard sales, estate sales, and every other kind of sale you can imagine online or offline. Some are here to stay, some are simply fad terms that describe a few choice items in a market, like sneakers or vintage band tees. Antique, vintage, and collectible are three of the most used (and sometimes misused) adjectives out there for re-sale items.

We’re here to define them for you at length and tell you exactly what the difference is between vintage and antique, collectible, and maybe a few more bonus terms along the way.

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What is the difference between vintage and antique?

Let’s cut right to the chase.

As a rule of thumb, Antiques have to be at least 100 years in age. That is what makes a true antique according to respectable dealers. Vintage can be anything from 20-99 years old and generally capture a sense of nostalgia that’s relevant to the culture in some way. Some popular sub-cultures include sneaker culture, hip-hop culture, and movie culture.

You can think of pop-music as another sub-culture that has spawned thousands of vintage collectibles, many of which have become quite valuable, depending on their condition and rarity.

This Run-D.M.C./adidas team-up is a rare promo item from the early'80s.

A vintage Run D.M.C. by My Adidas from the early 80s has been sold for as much as 13,000 US Dollars, but you can find other less expensive vintage items selling for $100-400 right now on eBay.

What makes something collectible?

That’s something every retail company in existence would love to know the answer to! But seriously…

A collectible is something that is worth more than what it was originally purchased for. That is the simplest way to describe it. Not everything marketed as a “collectible” at retail becomes one, either. It is an overly used term often misused in an attempt to add value to an ordinary object.

There are millions of collectibles out there and millions of hobbies and sub-cultures surrounding them. Which ones become valuable can depend on who designed them, their historical significance, time period, and more.

Most serious collectors at estate sales are looking for one or 2 different types of items they know most and have a passion for. Other people are avid collectors of anything valuable or significant.

Heres a list of terms often used in collectible culture:

  • Antique: a collectible item at least 100 years old.
  • Vintage: A culturally significant item ranging from 20-99 years in age, worthy of being collected. Authentic, aged pieces in various conditions.
  • Collectible: something inherently valuable or worth more than it was originally sold for.
  • New: a brand new never used item. Usually in original packaging and with tags / promotional items that came with it.
  • Estate: something previously owned, used often to describe jewelry.
  • Dead Stock: means never worn and in original packaging. Used in sneaker culture.
  • Period Piece: something from a time in recent or past history, often generating a sense of nostalgia for the owner.
  • Repro: something made to look like a valuable item. An imitation collectible.
  • Retro: Something imitating a style of the past, vintage implies these items are real, retro can also be an imitation.

And there you have it. Now you can see how people get confused over all of this! As complicated as it can be, knowing the facts, the terms, and how to use them will make you a more diligent collector on eBay, at the next estate sale, consignment shop, or wherever you call home as a shopper. Using these little tips and terms you could land yourself a spot on the next edition of Estate Sale Holy Grails!

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