Some of the appraisers don't like to use the term, which they think has been appropriated by manufacturers and merchandisers. "Collectibles is not a term I like especially," says Ken Farmer. "It brings to mind all those modern companies that create and market what they like to call collectibles, and the very idea of a plate-of-the-month club kind of takes all the challenge out of the thing for me."
Noel Barrett points out that, "In the late 1960s, collectibles were things that were mostly new and that were marketed specifically to be collectible-like Christmas plates. Now, the word tends to be used for things that aren't necessarily old-Pez dispensers and McDonald's happy-meal toys, for instance. It's not really a word a serious person wants to be involved with." Rudi Franchi added, "Today, 1970s figurines and items from the Franklin Mint are tastefully and certainly more accurately described as 'cherishables,' but many Americans think of these as collectibles."
Throughout this book, our definition of collectible is based in part on when the object was made. Things that are more than one hundred years old are legally antiques, and the term collectibles has come to be a convenient catchall term for many things — ceramics, furniture, glass — that are not yet old enough to be antiques. (Some collectibles, however, may never be considered antiques — baseball cards, toy robots, or fishing lures, for instance. See page 515 for a roundtable discussion of this issue.) The items featured in this book date-generally speaking-from the period between the end of World War I and about 1975. World War I provides a convenient starting point because of postwar changes in manufacturing techniques, as well as stylistic shifts that occurred in many of the categories covered in this book-furniture, glass, fashion, ceramics, and so forth. Many of these technological advances and new forces in design came about as a result of the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Industriels et Modernes, which was held in Paris. The Exposition launched the style that was later named for it — Art Deco. The Bauhaus too, a school of art, design, and architecture in Weimar (1919-1925) and Dessau (1925-1933), Germany, gave us such important modern designers as Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer. You will read more about the Exposition and the Bauhaus in the ensuing chapters.
The year 1975 makes a convenient ending point because it takes about twenty-five years for a collectible to begin to prove itself in the marketplace. Before an object has stood the test of at least a quarter century, the market is still too volatile to know what will be significant and have lasting desirability. Like any good rule, this one has its exceptions, as you will see below.
No one volume, naturally, can cover in detail a subject as diverse and amorphous as this one. We've chosen, therefore, to give you a brief overview of the types of collectibles that are brought most often to Antique Roadshow, believing that these categories best represent the types of things that Americans own, collect, and are most interested in learning more about.
Can a Collectible Also Be an Antique?