Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Antiques: Prices & Popularity

I'm not sure where the decline began but I blame part of it on the attrition of the use of "vintage" as a term to describe an item of some age.  I think we have totally confused our audience by incorporating the misuse of the word into our vernacular.  I've been chastised on an Etsy chat for using big words so perhaps one who doesn't respect the language should stop reading now.  I do and I use it as fluently and literally and inventively as I can.  I'm known as a grammar Nazi on Facebook.  I didn't cap that word.  Spell check did.  Spell check is not smarter than I am and I resent having to spell check spell check. 

Back to business.  Antique.  We all know the long held US import standard of an antique that is must be a hundred years old.  I try and respect that giving twenty years on the cheat side on occasion.  Somewhere I read the customs definition had changed but I just googled it and it is still 100.  So...sellers on Ebay who had something they knew was old but they weren't willing to chance using the strict term of "antique" came up with "vintage".  I saw the tide.  I fought but I lost.  To me, we compromised ourselves too much at that point and people began to mistrust.

This is vintage:


The term was previously used to describe wine of a certain year.  As you can see vintage does not necessarily mean old so the term is being misused to describe an item with the indication of age.  Nee antique. 

So...on a slow TV night recently I watched two episodes of Antiques Roadshow and guess what?  The trend has followed as in reduced values.  The two shows I saw were actually a shock to me in that AR would even admit to lower prices on anything.  I blame them for the astronomical prices people of an estate mind set were misled into believing the worth their stuff is worth.  And, while blame is in the wind, I blame American Pickers for the fact that NO ONE is willing to pay the price marked anymore.  I dislike the term "I digress" but maybe I did.

The point is, it is a phenomenon that I have been noticing reluctantly.  Our antiques just aren't worth what they used to be.  One excuse is that the younger generations wants nothing old.  They want new from Ikea.  Fancy any of that ever becoming a fine antique.  Another is the distrust built by fakes and forgeries unloaded on both those sites I mentioned earlier. 

Where it hurts me most is in our estate work and in appraisals.  It is very hard to tell an executor or a delighted heir that what their benefactor has left is not worth what they saw on AR in 2000.  It was proven to me by the decrease in values shown on those two episodes.  I still can't figure out why they did those shows and I wish everyone had been required to see them.

Please keep in mind that while there are nuggets of truth and veracity in what I write, I also have a tendency to attempt to add flavor with a bit of sarcasm or cynicism. 

I really would like your opinions on values and why we are seeing such a downslide.


  1. I laughed at your reluctant "I digress". It is seen far too often, isn't it?

    When we moved out of state in 1979 we had a professional appraiser come to our house because my parents had experienced a moving van "accidental" fire a few years before. Thankfully we never had need of using the appraisal but I came across it in our last move and felt sure as I read it that most things would not be priced as high today as they were then.

    I've wondered if the instant capability of locating many such objects today via internet has meant lower prices? I remember waiting weeks for a used book seller to find a book I needed and paying top dollar for it, when now I can find many copies of it fairly cheap most times on my own through Abe Books, with no middleman.

    I know for sure that out of 4 children and their spouses that only 2 daughters-in-law might want my collection of Spode, and be willing to hand wash it. Some have dibs on a few pieces of furniture and artwork but most of it would be sold and fairly cheaply at that.

    So I use it all daily and enjoy it now, not keeping it for special occasions.

    1. I understand. My daughter and her partner take home a few small things now and then but, for the most part, it's "We don't have a place for it". I do think when the time comes, as they say, they will keep the family pieces. As for the prices, I think Antiques Roadshow did our market some damage with their inflated prices and shows like American Pickers and Flea Market Flip give a negative impression of values. Once the antiques business had a mystery about it. Those who were in the "know" were respected. Now everybody knows. Or thinks they do.
      Thanks for chiming in Dewena.


Thank you for visiting Pontifical.s Porch. We welcome your comments and thank you for taking the time to share.