Categories and definitions

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I am moving my blog posts/articles from our store’s site to this one in order to preserve them for future viewing. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.


Welcome to Five Katz Antiques blog. For my first blog entry, I wanted to put forth the most common definitions for the categories of merchandise that we sell. This would include antiques, collectibles, vintage & Retro items, and oddities. Let’s start with antiques.


An antique (Latin: antiquus; “old”, “ancient”) is an old collectable item. It is collected or desirable because of its age, beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal and/or emotional connection, and/or other unique features. It is an object that represents a previous era or time period in human society.

It is common practice to define “antique” as applying to objects at least 100 years old, although cars are considered antiques after 25 years.

Antiques are usually objects that show some degree of craftsmanship—or a certain attention to design, such as a desk or an early automobile. They are bought at antique shops, estate sales, auction houses, online auctions, and other venues, or estate inherited. (Wikipedia)

Many people refer to items as antiques, even though they are not true antiques, many times because they have been living with or have owned the item for a long time. If we stick to the strict definition, the item should be at least 100 years old. Another key component is that the item be in its original unaltered condition. For example, when you paint a piece of antique furniture, as in the current “Shabby Chic” movement, it becomes repurposed and thereby loses its classification as an antique.


A collectable (or collector’s item) is any object regarded as being of value or interest to a collector (not necessarily monetarily valuable or antique). There are numerous types of collectables and terms to denote those types. An antique is a collectable that is old. A curio is a small, usually fascinating or unusual item sought after by collectors. (Wikipedia)

A “manufactured” collectable (often referred to as a contemporary collectable) is an item made specifically for people to collect. The terms special edition, limited edition and variants such as deluxe edition, collector’s edition and others, fall under the category of manufactured collectable and are used as a marketing incentive for various kinds of products, originally published products related to the arts, such as books, prints or recorded music and films, but now including cars, fine wine and other collectables. A limited edition is restricted production and has extra material of some kind included.

People ask me what their “Collectibles” are worth. My response is generally what the market is trending at, or whatever you can get.

Under the category of manufactured collectibles, i.e. Beanie Babies, toy cars such as Matchbox© or Hot Wheels©, movie tie-ins with figures of Star Wars© or Star Trek© characters, dolls such as Cabbage Patch Dolls©, Boyd’s Bears© and other items, you have to remember they are manufactured in the thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions! A factor of the value of any item is the number of them that were produced. That is why some antique or collectible automobiles bring millions. Because they only made one! Beanie Babies© were at one time bringing hundreds of dollars each for certain ones. Now a quick scan of any thrift shop or flea market and you will probably see several for sale for a couple dollars or less.


Vintage is much more difficult to pin down. The term vintage technically refers to a wine made of grapes from a specific year and not necessarily a wide spectrum of items. We use the term in reference to vintage clothing, vintage books, etc. describes it as representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies. We tend to think of vintage items as old, but not as old as antiques. I think most people would think of vintage items as the time from WWII to the 1970’s. At least that is my general feeling.


Again we refer to Wikipedia – The term retro has been in use since the 1960s to describe new artifacts that self-consciously refer to particular modes, motifs, techniques, and materials of the past. It is mostly the recent past that retro seeks to recapitulate, focusing on the products, fashions and artistic styles produced since the Industrial Revolution, of Modernity.

So in our view of retro we would say “Retro” is a style that is consciously derived from or imitates trends, music, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past, typically 15–30 years old. An example could be the CD and USB music players that are styled to look like vintage Coca Cola© Radios or coolers or old Victrola type players. These would be considered retro. The values are much less because they are modern recreations.


Wikipedia is behind the curve on this definition. They state that Oddities may refer to Music, Television shows and wrestling. Our definition of oddities are items that are relatively weird, unusual and or just plain creepy. Item’s such as animal bones, prison restraints, medical items, surgical tools, embalming tools, dental items, taxidermy and sideshow gaffs (a sideshow gaff is a fake animal created by assembling parts from 2 or more real animals and/or other items), quack or recalled medical items and much more.

There are many different areas of oddities that many be collected and the appeal is widespread and growing. Some focus on one area or subject matter such as embalming and others collect across the spectrum.

There are items that may be collected that transcend several of the categories. Cameras are one example. You can collect antique cameras that are over 100 years old, you can collect vintage 35mm cameras from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, you can collect retro looking digital cameras as well as current production items that may be collectible in the future and or you could look for real oddball cameras that were produced in low numbers.

Photographers collect cameras. Space fans collect space memorabilia. People collect autographs, pocket watches, coins, toys, marbles, lighters, cars and anything else you can think of or name. If they made it, I guarantee someone somewhere collects it.

Collecting has been around for centuries and its popularity is not likely to wane anytime soon. Trends and styles change and some things fall in and out of favor. Retail prices and collectible values can fluctuate greatly. My advice is to collect what interests you and set your budget to what you can afford. Don’t buy something because you think it might increase in value someday, buy it because you love it.