Words Every Antique Lover Needs to Know

The language of antiques is often shrouded in mystery, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be able to speak with confidence and authority about everything from trade value to provenance.

So if you’re new to the world of antiques or want a refresher on some key terms, keep reading for an alphabetical list of keywords that will help you sound like a pro at any antique show or flea market!


An antique is an old object. Antiques can be valuable and typically have a story to tell. It’s important to know how to identify antiques if you plan on collecting them for yourself or your business.


An heirloom is an item passed down from generation to generation of family members. It may also have sentimental value to the owner and can be of high quality or even valuable.

Most antiques are considered heirlooms, as they’re usually at least a few decades old. Heirlooms are rare and unique, but some exceptions exist (like family portraits).


Estate is the term used to describe a collection of items belonging to a single owner. It can also be defined as a group of objects purchased as a set, inherited by an individual or family, and bought at an auction.

When estate comes up in conversation with your antique-loving friends, you’ll want to know precisely what it means so that you can participate in conversations about antiques with ease.

Flea Market

If you’re looking to buy antiques and don’t know where to start, flea markets are a great place to look. Flea markets are held in malls, parking lots and other public places. The best part? They’re filled with people who love buying antique furniture or decorating their homes with exciting pieces they find at the flea market.


If you want your friends and family to be impressed by your knowledge of antiques, this information will be useful when chatting with them!


The word “vintage” can be tricky to define, but it’s generally used to refer to items that are at least 20 years old. Technically, the term “antique” refers to something over 100 years old; however, many people use the terms interchangeably when referring to older items.

Vintage is a loose term for an item manufactured or designed in the past. Vintage pieces are often in good condition and have a story behind them—the longer you have owned them, the more likely your vintage piece holds sentimental value!


A collectible is an object that is bought and sold, usually at an auction. Collectibles can be antiques, but not all antiques are collectibles.

Collectibles are usually worth more than the sum of their parts, meaning that even if you break down the price of all the materials used in producing them, they would still be worth more than that total.


A curio is an object of historical, artistic, or scientific interest. A curio shop is a store that sells antiques, collectibles and other items. A curio cabinet is a cabinet that holds curiosities.

As you can see, many different words and phrases are related to antiques. While many other words could be added to this list, we hope these seven have helped you better understand the world of antiques and collectibles.

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