The difference between an antique and a collectable is a much-debated subject, so there is little wonder that people are confused about these two terms. The confusion probably arises because the two terms are similar and both characterise an item by something other than its physical attributes. Having said that, what is the difference?
The Rarity4u definition is as follows:
An Antique is defined by the age of the item.
A Collectable is an item whose value revolves around its utility or aesthetic attributes but has since been enhanced by widespread interest.
Still confused, we will try to explain further with an example.
If you were looking at a chair, you would recognise it simply because it had certain physical attributes, namely four legs, two arms, a seat and a back. Just by looking at and considering the physical attributes it would not be possible to determine if the chair was an antique or a collectable. So what would make the chair either an antique, collectable or simply a piece of junk?
If the chair was a late 1700´s Hepplewhite mahogany dining chair this would definitely be an antique because of its age, and would be much sort after because of the maker Hepplewhite. During its history a famous person may have owned or sat in the chair, thus increasing its value.
A chair owned by your parents or grand parents is unlikely to be an antique due to its lack of age. The chair may not be a collectable either unless it was manufactured by a known or sort after manufacturer. However if the chair was once owned by John Lennon, the intrinsic value does not lie in the chair’s utilitarian purpose rather than in the fact that John Lennon used to sit in it. The chair would them be a collectable.
Your great, great grand parents chair would be an antique because of its age even though your great, great grand parents were not famous. The value of the chair would vary based on several factors including quality, style and craftsmanship. Irrespective of its condition, the chair would still be an antique because of the year in which it was made.
Thus in the above example the Hepplewhite chair is an antique and much sort after but the John Lennon chair, although much sort after is only a collectable and will not become an antique for some considerable time due to its lack of age. Your great, great grand parents chair is an antique but may not necessarily be sort after.
It was once generally accepted that items were antique if they were more than 100 years in age and anything of more recent origin was a collectable, provided the item had acquired some value in the eyes of collectors themselves. The U.S. government apportions different rates of tax to an antique and considers an item over 100 years in age to be an antique. Many collectors however use 50 years as the benchmark.
An astonishing array of objects can be regarded as a collectable, in fact everything from bus tickets to Art Deco furniture. Trends and fashions seem to have far more impact on the collectables market than on the antiques market. Collectables from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s are now much in demand, so today’s cast off’s could very well become tomorrow’s collectables. What to collect is largely a matter of personal preference, but most collectors often find learning about a subject’s background or history is as rewarding as acquiring the object itself.