Antique Vs. Vintage: A Self Education

When I first began at Walnutts, for the purposes of this blog, actually, I was relatively new to the world of “antiques.” While estate and tag sales are a regular fixture of my weekend, there is still a lot for me to learn when it comes to collecting. The first thing I learned how to distinguish, however, was vintage vs. antique.

Now, to me, they were synonymous. The only difference I believed to exist was that “vintage” had a friendlier tone to it. I wouldn’t mind if someone came up to me and said, “I love that purse you’re carrying! It’s so vintage!” I would mind however if they said, “It’s so… antique.” So, to begin this journey, I first looked up the definition of each.

Definition:

vintage [vin-tij]
adj.
1. Of or relating to a vintage.
2. Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.
3. Old or outmoded.
4.
a. Of the best: played songs that were vintage Cole Porter.
b. Of the most distinctive: ”Fatalism has coexisted with vintage American overconfidence” (Thomas Oliphant).
[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, alteration (influenced by viniter, vintner) of Old French vendange, from Latin vndmia : vnum, grapes + dmere, to take off (d, de- + emere, to obtain; see em- in Indo-European roots).]

VS.

antique [an-teek]

1. Belonging to, made in, or typical of an earlier period.
2. Of or belonging to ancient times, especially of, from, or characteristic of ancient Greece or Rome.
3. Of or dealing in antiques.
4. Old-fashioned
[from Latin antīquus ancient, from ante before]

Hmm. You can understand my confusion. Next, I took to the Internet. A quick Google search brought up a very lively discussion, on a multitude of fronts, over the distinctions between “vintage” and “antique.” Thankfully, one of my favorite sites, Apartment Therapy, outlined the differences rather nicely:

What is antique?
According to Merriam Webster, an antique is “a relic or object of ancient times” or “a work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at an earlier period and according to various customs laws at least 100 years ago.” Ruby Lane, an online marketplace of independent antique and collectible shops, offers a similar definition, explaining, “Most authorities consider the actual definition of the term ‘antique’ to mean an age of at least 100 years. If an item is not definitively datable to 100 or more years in age, it should not be directly referred to as an antique.”

What is vintage?
If antiques are things that are 100 years old or older, what are vintage pieces? The defnition of vintage is trickier. According to Merriam Webster, the term vintage relates primarily to wine and is an altered form of the French word vendage, meaning “the grapes picked during a season.” One of its secondary definitions is “a period of origin or manufacture” (e.g., a vintage 1960s Mercedes) or “length of existence: age.” Ruby Lane provides a much more helpful explanation, noting that “an item described as ‘vintage’ should speak of the era in which it was produced. Vintage can mean an item is of a certain period of time, as in “vintage 1950′s” but it can also mean (and probably always should) that the item exhibits the best of a certain quality, or qualities, associated with or belonging to that specific era. In other words, for the term vintage to accurately apply to it, an item should be somewhat representational and recognizable as belonging to the era in which it was made.” Ruby Lane also suggests that ‘vintage’ should not be used in reference to objects less than 20 years old.

Essentially, it not only has to do with age (antique being over 100 years old, vintage for items 20+ years old), but more so has to do with syntactical usage of each term. Now, I do realize that majority of the readers of this site have no difficulty in defining and distinguishing the two. But as someone learning, I feel as though I can better navigate the “world of antiques” and understand categorizations and valuations of objects.

I look forward to continue this learning process as we continue to build and fill up the Walnutts site! The wealth of resources already contained herein have afforded me so many outlets to expand my education.

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Daredevils, Deviants, and Circus Folk: Rare 1910-11 Magician Annual Magic Book, edited by Will Goldston, featuring Harry Houdini

The world of magic has fascinated for centuries. With the popularity of the circus rising in the mid-19th to early-20th centuries in America, magicians became celebrity figures, celebrated and revered. Pictures above is a wonderful and very rare, 1910-11 volume of The Magician Annual. The book was compiled and edited by Will Goldston, and published by The Magician Ltd. It was a fascinating and quite beautiful 102-page volume that included three colored plates and over three hundred illustrations. Bound in its original, elaborate, pictorial red cloth covers, the front board included an image of an Indian magician.

The book has a broad range of contents, from stage juggling, to the history of playing, pocket tricks, illusions, and biographical information on various magicians of the Period. It is filled with a variety of interesting articles, from trick descriptions to pattern suggestions, from biographical information to theory. Among others, there is a trick contribution by Harry Houdini.

The Table of Contents includes:

The Scribe, The Failure, and The Magician (JOHN KEYMAN)
Amateur Conjurer’s Accessories (GEORGE JOHNSON)
The Magic of Suggestion (PROFESSOR HOFFMANN)
New Patter for Popular Problems (WOOLFE CLYNE)
Wine v. Water (CHRIS VAN BERN)
Telepathic Materialization (MAX STERLING)
Original Tricks (“ELLIOT”)
Magicians I Have Met (WILL GOLDSTON)
Some Clever Box Mysteries Exposed (JAY GEE)


Original Stage Mysteries (COLLINS & BRETMA)
The League of Magicians (WILL GOLDSTON)
Something to Startle the Public (EDGAR TURNER)
Other People’s Ideas (THE EDITOR)
Fêke Mediums (“KATCHEM”)
Can the Dead Speak? (HENRY BYATT)
Spanish Maiden Escape (HARRY HOUDINI)
Quick Change Secrets (LEE LAURIE)
Mysterious Stage Illusions (WILL GOLDSTON)
Other Coloured Plates

The book’s editor, Will Goldston was born Wolf Goldstone in Liverpool, England. He was of Jewish parentage, and at age of 11 or 12 became inspired by a box of tricks given to him as a present. In 1892, Goldston was studying with Prof. Alexander and reading Hoffmann’s Modern Magic. He debuted as apprentice at age 17 in 1898. He was also known as “Carl Devo” (circa 1898-1907), initially with Black Art. He moved from Professional Magician to a Professional Magic Dealer and managed the Conjuring, Theatrical, and Entertainment Departments at Gamages 1905-14. Goldston founded “The Magicians’ Club” in 1911, serving as Treasurer throughout but running it as a one-man self-serving club, until it passed into limbo during WW II. He was also the owner-manager of Aladdin House (Will Goldston Ltd) 1914-48 in London.

The majority of the text is instruction, not only in the mechanics of various magic tricks and illusions, but more importantly, guidance for the would-be magician regarding stage presence, conduct before an audience, timing, misdirection and general demeanor. The remainder is biographical and historical material on magicians and their craft. The world of magicians have always found their place in books, past and present, and this was an exemplary tome of the tricks of the trade.

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Daredevils and Deviants: Martha E. Wagenfurher, “Maid of the Rapids”

I am currently reading a wonderful (though fictional) book called The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and it has piqued my interest in carnival performers and feats of daring. “Circus life” fascinates me; there is something exotic, inspiring, quixotic, and peculiar the lifestyle. Today at Anonymous Works, the blog’s author and curator-of-the-peculiar, Joey posts about Martha E. Wagenfurher, “Maid of the Rapids.” Though not a circus worker, Martha falls into a similar category of performers living on the fringe, who eschew typical means of entertainment and seek to take themselves to unknown limits.

Martha E. Wagenfuhrer hailed from Buffalo, NY. The wife of a professional wrestler, her daring streak helped her devise a plan to be the first woman to ever shoot down Niagara Falls in a barrel. She timed her stunt to be on the exact day, and the exact time, that President William McKinley was to have a very public visit at the Falls on September 6, 1901. She expected it to be a widely publicized event, with loads of press vying to make her instantaneously famous. Unfortunately, fate was not on her side. First, as she arrived at the Falls, her barrel struck the bank and was damaged, delaying her feat. By the time she was ready at around 6pm, according to the New York Times article that followed the next day, the press had fled the raging waterfall’s banks, rushing to cover the assassination of President McKinley, which occurred mere hours after his morning Niagara visit.

In the description of the 1901 cabinet card pictured above, we learn of Martha’s fate:

Martha began her journey on the afternoon of September 6th, but before her barrel could be set afloat it sustained damage when it accidentally rolled down the bank of the river. Martha refused to go ahead with her stunt until the barrel was repaired and later that day, slightly before 6 p.m. Martha was helped inside her barrel.

Unfortunately for Martha her barrel was caught in the Whirlpool Rapids for over an hour. With darkness setting in it became necessary for the Great Gorge Railway Illumination Car to be brought to the Whirlpool so its search light could illuminate the surface of the river. When it was possible to finally retrieve the barrel Martha was found unconscious inside and barely breathing. It took over ten minutes to revive the woman.

She was featured in several publications, such as Cosmopolitan magazine, yet, as with most flash-in-the-pan performers, her story is overshadowed by the events of her time.

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Vintage Basketball Photos: University of Miami Men’s and Women’s Teams

Circling around the blogs (such as Miss Moss and Lincoln Taft) are vintage photographs of the University of Miami Women’s Basketball team. A collection of most all team photographs can be found at the University of Miami’s Flickr stream. Miami had the foresight to transfer its photo archives to an online database, so that they can be shared and enjoyed by a mass audience, rather than simply tucked away in dusty old books, sitting in a library’s back room.

I think it’s an interesting and important concept for universities, museums, and other cultural institutions to put their photo archives on sharing sites such as Flickr. It is a means to preserve and retell history, as well as to inspire others to dig up otherwise unknown and unseen remnants of the past.

Plus, just look at those hair bows.

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Happy Holidays!

For those that follow our Ebay listings, you might notice that things are a little different the next two weeks. We are cutting back on the number and dollar value of the items listed in our weekly auctions that end December 19th and December 26th, in order to be able to spend some time with friends and family over the holiday season.

We are exceptionally grateful to all of our regular customers for their interest and support these past 13 years on eBay. We wish every one of you a happy and healthy holiday season!

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