What is Vintage Silver? Part 2

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Antique Silver Georgian Silver - fiddle goes art deco

This piece of vintage silver has a lovely patina caused by generations of genuine care and use.

A few months ago, we discussed the question of what is vintage silver vs. antique silver, the crux of the issue is time.

Antique pieces, in my definition are older than 1900, vintage ranges from 1900-1945-ish at which time modern or mid-century begins to become my term of choice.  The dividing line between each of these categories shifts a bit depending on the dealer and the item (not too many cars around from before 1900).

But in the flood of “get-ready for the holiday season” catalogs pouring in via the mail…well, let’s just be clear…

Something that is new is not an antique or vintage piece.

It can be retro or inspired by a vintage or antique piece, but it should not be called antique. It doesn’t matter what has been done to it to make it mimic the look of vintage heirlooms that have been passed down through the generations. It’s new and only 100+ years from now will it be an antique…assuming it lasts that long.

Casually and incorrectly calling new pieces vintage and antique does a real disservice to everyone – businesses and consumers alike.


As the owner of Silver Magpies I take the labels and descriptions applied to the pieces I sell very seriously. You can see for yourself in Silver Magpies Shop Policies. My reputation depends on it.

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7 thoughts on “What is Vintage Silver? Part 2

  1. Julie LoRussoNo Gravatar

    I’m glad you wrote about this. It makes me crazy when I see jewelry advertised as silver (yes silver in color but not STERLING silver) or with the big companies that are reproducing vintage brooches and stating they are vintage—it’s just not the same.


  2. ElainneNo Gravatar

    I like the subject of your post today, too. One of my pet peeves is the inaccuracy in calling something ‘retro’ when referring to something actually from the mid-century era. Retro is something that is ‘imitative’ of a style of the recent past – it imitates the style, it’s not an actual mid-century item. Guess I’ll just have to stick to the antique stuff, silver that is…vintage handmade and/or french silver pique my interest. I so admire hand hammered and formed pieces; and french inscriptions are so very beautiful…


    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Hello Elainne –

      Yes retro is another terribly misused word. I had intended on working that concept into this post a little more thoroughly, but ended up with short and to the point! Another time for “retro”!

  3. carol saundersNo Gravatar

    Have just recommended you to another friend.

    Still have the lovely graceful coffee 3 pc service awiating your availability.

    Just gave your contact info to a super serious art restorer friend w/a client looking to consign sterling flatware. ALL THE BEST, c

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Carol –

      Thank you very much for your very kind referral and very public testimonial! Word-of-mouth recommendations like yours mean the world to me.


  4. MarkNo Gravatar

    Thank you for the info. This may save me from making a bad deal in the future. It is scary knowing that there are a lot of scam artists out there. The best weapon against them is having the right and accurate knowledge.

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