One thing we are often asked when selling a vintage or antique item is “how old is it? From postcards to pottery, hardware to hair receivers, beer bottles to bumper chutes, everyone wants a date.
Sometimes it’s easy to identify the period when an item was first made, and your best clue is often the patent date. China and pottery have makers’ marks on back and old English pottery pieces include the registration number. Postcards made in Germany are usually pre-World War I. Phone numbers, zip codes and bar codes all help in identifying age. The material used to produce a piece can also help suggest the period of production. Cast iron, Bakelite, plastics, copper, aluminum, brass and bronze all had a time when popularity of the material was important to the consumer.
Who can pass by and not notice the color of kitchen green, cobalt blue or pink depression glass? The style of the item should also be considered. Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Egyptian or Modern identify style and set time frames. What does the style say about age?
Here is a list issued by the US Patent Office to help clarify the years items were made, based on their patent numbers.