Sign in to participate in this discussion.

Vintage? How do you tell if an item is vintage?

Ive been really wanting too purchase some vintage items, not clothing but items for my home and such. But it drives me nuts to think that they may NOT be vintage.
How can you tell? or what questions can you ask.

If anyone sells items that are vintage how do you know it is vintage?

Thanks :)

30 Responses

Anyone have any tips?
Default avatar
Inactive Etsy Member 4:08 pm Mar 29, 2011 EDT
Stuff for your home covers a huge range of items. Can you be a little more specific?

Research. Decide what kind of items you like and will be looking for and learn about them. Find out who made them, when and where they were made, what materials were used, if the item has markings that will date it to a certain time, etc.

Be an informed buyer and you'll have a good experience.
You can do research online. I used to follow vintage on ebay for many years.

After awhile you just learn to know what's really vintage.

There's lots of books out on vintage also. Visit antique shops, antique shows etc.

Thanks for the tips!

I guess what I meant to say is that there are a bunch of different things for the home that I am looking for, vases, cups, lanterns, etc..

It's just that when I see things I am unsure if I should buy or not, with all of the reselling going on I dont want to shell out the bucks and then later find it at cost plus for half the price.
I sell vintage. You can tell it's authentic vintage in many different ways. Obviously I do research on all my pieces, but I can't always do research right on the spot when I'm out "hunting."

Some ways I tell are the materials used (this can often tell you which decade/era it's from), whether it's USA-made or not (most items post 80s are made overseas), various nuances (ex. old lamps plug-ins look very different from modern-day plugs). Also, some items have actual dates, tags and the company's name. Note that not all vintage does.

I suggest asking questions like:
- When was it made?
- What materials are used?
- What's the manufacturer's name/history?

Always request pictures of tags/bottoms on vintage items. These provide much information! I've been obsessed from vintage since I was very young and have developed an eye for it. Yes, there are many items made to look vintage because vintage is a hot seller. That doesn't mean it's actual vintage, though! You really do need to do a bit of research, or buy from a seller with a good reputation.
I think you just have to be on Earth long enough to recognize that something from your childhood suddenly is more than 20 years old. :)
ZebrasAndBubblegum has some great advice! My specialty is toys from the 80's and I can usually tell from just looking at an item if it is vintage or reissue. For things that are not 80's toys I flip the item over and look anywhere for a date. I've noticed that older items will more often have a year written as a roman numeral, so it was helpful for me to re-learn how to read these.

From a buyer's perspective I would ask the seller if there is a date on the item (easiest) or some other manufacturer's info on it so you can do some online research if necessary.

I do want to note that sometimes dates can be deceiving if it is a reissue or remake of a vintage item. I know for example that the Rainbow Brite dolls reissued in the early 2000s still have "1983" printed on the back of the dolls' heads. I imagine this could be the same with other (maybe household) items. So have a little caution and do some research.
I would check the seller's feedback as well to make sure there is no bad feedback for selling bogus.

Most of us here are selling authentic vintage, but your concern is why we flag the bogus when we see it.

We do a lot of research or are personally knowledgeable about what we offer for sale, look at the descriptions for decent details, and most of us do show the bottoms of vases, planters, etc., if it's marked.

Good luck, but be careful....I started out as a buyer, and before you know it, filled my charming little bungalow to the gills and had to start selling, too! :D

Unfollow username?

Are you sure you want to stop following this person?

Report a post

Thank you for taking time to help Etsy! Please note that you will not receive a personal response about this report. We will review this post privately.

Why are you reporting this post?

Any additional comments?

Edit Post

Edit your post below. After editing, the post will be marked as edited and the date & time of the last edit displayed.

Edit Reply

Edit your post below. After editing, the post will be marked as edited and the date & time of the last edit displayed.

Enter at least 15 characters. 400 remaining.


What is this?

Admin may choose to highlight awesome community posts that are friendly, answer questions, and offer informative links.

What does it do?

Highlighted posts are placed at the top of each page in a thread for greater visibility.