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Antiquing is a fun and rewarding pastime. First, hunting for the best things to collect is thrilling. Then there’s the excitement of your items appreciating over time. Finally, as your collection grows, so will your expertise and nuance for spotting rare items.
You might not know where to start if you’ve never collected anything old. Keep in mind that the antique market ebbs and flows. It’s helpful to follow your passion versus following trends. If you’re collecting something you truly are fascinated by, you won’t mind if the market dips in value now and then. You might even look forward to those dips to snag some pieces for less money.
We’ve compiled a list of some common vintage and antique collectibles—and linked to some Etsy finds to get your search started. Fair warning: Once you discover something that catches your eye, you might catch the collecting bug, which can be costly. Have fun!
Furniture & Decor
Furniture can be hard to collect since most people don’t have more than one coffee table, for example. You can generalize your search by era and collect several items for your home within from that period.
Antique mirrors are a versatile and attractive addition to any collection. They come in various styles, shapes, and sizes, reflecting different eras and design aesthetics. Collecting mirrors not only adds beauty to your home but can also create the illusion of more space.
Eastlake furniture refers to a Victorian-era furniture style named after the influential British architect Charles Eastlake. This style is characterized by its simple, geometric designs and minimal ornamentation. Collectors are drawn to Eastlake furniture for its sturdy construction and timeless appeal.
Mid-Century Modern (MCM) furniture, popular from the 1940s to the 1960s, is characterized by its sleek lines, minimalistic design, and organic shapes. This timeless style has experienced a resurgence in popularity, making it a highly sought-after collectible for both its aesthetic appeal and functionality.
Silverplate items, made by applying a thin layer of silver to a base metal, are an affordable and attractive option for collectors. With a wide range of items, from flatware to decorative pieces, silverplate offers the elegance of silver without the hefty price tag.
Vintage glassware is very popular to collect, and it’s generally pretty affordable. Most pieces are still safe to use today, and they look great displayed in a china cabinet or on open shelves.
Depression glass is a type of colored or clear glassware that was produced during the Great Depression. It is often intricately designed and affordable, making it an attractive option for collectors. Patterns and colors vary, with some pieces being quite rare and valuable.
Jadeite Glass, known for its distinctive milky green color, was popular during the mid-20th century. This type of glassware is now highly collectible due to its unique appearance and nostalgic charm. Pieces include dinnerware, kitchenware, and decorative items.
Milk glass is opaque, white glassware that has been popular for over 100 years. Its timeless appeal, versatility, and affordability make it a favorite among collectors. Items range from vases and bowls to lamps and figurines.
If you want to learn more about antique jewelry, check out our sister site, Ageless Heirlooms.
Old-world jewelers created mourning jewelry to commemorate the death of a loved one. Often made from materials like jet, onyx, and hair, these pieces symbolize the mourning process and can include brooches, lockets, and rings.
Lavaliers are delicate, pendant-style necklaces that gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Often adorned with gemstones and intricate metalwork, these elegant pieces are highly sought-after by collectors.
Art Deco Rings
Art Deco Rings are characterized by bold geometric designs and the use of contrasting materials. Popular during the 1920s and 1930s, collectors consider these rings timeless pieces with a unique style that is hard to replicate today.
Collecting antique watches is a popular hobby due to the intricate craftsmanship and fascinating history behind these timepieces. From pocket watches to wristwatches, there is a wide range of styles, brands, and movements to explore.
Most kitchenware is still safe to use, but some dishes might contain harmful amounts of lead if they are highly decorated and show extensive wear.
Antique cookie cutters are a delightful addition to any collection, with a variety of shapes and materials available. They provide a nostalgic reminder of homemade treats and holidays past, making them a popular choice among collectors.
Mason jars, once a staple in kitchens for preserving food, have become popular collectibles. With different sizes, colors, embossed designs, and brands like Atlas, these jars appeal to collectors for their versatility and history.
Collectors love vintage Pyrex for its colorful patterns and durable construction. Produced from the 1940s to the 1980s, this heat-resistant glassware includes
Corning Ware is a durable and versatile ceramic bakeware brand, introduced in the 1950s and known for its attractive designs. Collectors appreciate CorningWare for its unique features like heat-resistant ceramic and iconic patterns.
Vintage linens are a great sustainable way to add beautiful high-quality textiles into your everyday life.
Quilts & Bedding
Antique quilts and bedding showcase intricate craftsmanship and beautiful patterns. Handmade and often passed down through generations, these textiles offer a glimpse into the past and can be used as functional or decorative pieces in your home.
Vintage handkerchiefs, once a common accessory, have become a popular collectible item. They come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and patterns, often featuring delicate embroidery or lacework. Collecting handkerchiefs offers a window into the fashion and customs of bygone eras.
History buffs and the like might enjoy collecting various types of memorabilia. If you know someone who collects memorabilia, you have a built in gift idea ready to go.
Collecting old photographs is a fascinating way to explore history and connect with the past. Photos can depict people, places, and events, offering insights into different time periods and cultures. Collectors often focus on specific themes, such as family portraits or travel scenes.
Political buttons are a popular way to commemorate campaigns, candidates, and events from history. They provide a tangible connection to past political movements and offer a unique perspective on historical events.
Stamp collecting, or philately, is a classic hobby that appeals to people of all ages. Stamps offer a wealth of information about history, geography, and culture, with countless designs, themes, and denominations to explore.
Vintage postcards provide a snapshot of history, depicting landscapes, architecture, and everyday life from the past. Collectors often focus on specific themes, such as holiday greetings or travel destinations.
Coin collecting is an enduring hobby that combines history, art, and economics. Collectors appreciate the intricate designs and fascinating stories behind each piece, with many focusing on specific countries, time periods, or themes.
Antique books offer a wealth of knowledge and history, with collectors drawn to various aspects such as subject matter, edition, or binding. From rare first editions to beautifully illustrated volumes, antique books can be both an investment and a source of enjoyment.
Vintage toys are a nostalgic and whimsical collectible that appeals to both children and adults. They offer a glimpse into the past, with items ranging from dolls and action figures to board games and tin toys.
Consider using antique pottery for decorative purposes only since some glazes can contain lead and other harmful chemicals. As pieces of decor, they are perfectly safe and work well as cache pots for house plants.
Majolica pottery is characterized by its vibrant colors and intricate designs. Originating in the 19th century, these pieces often feature natural motifs, such as flowers and animals. Collecting Majolica is a popular choice for those who appreciate both art and history.
Roseville pottery, produced by the American Roseville Pottery Company, is known for its high-quality craftsmanship and distinct designs. Collectors are drawn to the various patterns and shapes, making it a sought-after collectible.
McCoy pottery, another American brand, offers various styles and colors. From utilitarian kitchenware to decorative vases, collectors appreciate McCoy pottery’s versatility and enduring appeal.
Ironstone is a type of durable, white ceramic that has been popular since the 19th century. Collectors value ironstone for its simple elegance and practicality, with pieces that include dinnerware, serving dishes, and decorative items.