Identifying vintage and antique items means using all five of the senses, maybe not all on all items, but all at some time or the other. You need to see, feel, smell, hear, and yes, at times taste an item to see if it holds true.
Feeling is the first thing I remember learning to use to identify items. I watched a show on TV where they released buyers into an antiques store to see who would come back with the real items. The items they had to identify were cut vs. pressed glass. The way to identify cut glass was feeling. If it was cut it would have crisp sharp edges and the pressed glass would be dull. Visual and weight have a lot to do with identifying these items also.
Smell was very interesting to me. It had to do with ivory. We had some mirrors come through that were marked ivory. Were we able to sell this item with the ivory laws? Was it really ivory or something else? The internet was helpful in this search. There is a test of warm water, twenty minutes, a quick rub, and the smell. I went to work on items that were ivory. Real ivory smells pungent like dental drilling, teeth and horns are made from the same materials. If it is not ivory it smells like resin or burning plastic. Weight and textures are factors determining authenticity also. There are other ways to determine if it is ivory, the destructive burn test, understanding cross hatch and reading the signs with black light.
Seeing is one that we rely on the most. Things like; ‘Does it have a bar code?’ is a good visual clue. Bar codes arrived in Cincinnati, OH in the grocery stores in 1972. Prior to 1972 items were not marked with those black and white 11 digit codes. Look for those bar codes. This only works on some items. What about those glass items? Glass takes you back to those Humanities course in High School or College. How well do you know your history? Black lighting or memorizing those design books seems to be the only ways to recognize those special glass items.
Hearing is one that we found out about when the guy on the Ed Sullivan show played those crystal glasses and made a recognizable tune. Crystal can be tapped and if it is the real deal it will sing for you. It’s amazing what a thump can tell. I first learned about thumping at the grocery store. Thump that watermelon. You can be pretty accurate with it over time. You have to thump a lot of melons to learn to recognize the sound. When I test an item, more often than not will thump or tap it, listening for a familiar sound.
Tasting well, maybe not really tasting, but using the mouth and yes, you taste it too. I identify pearls from rubbing the pearl against my teeth. If it’s smooth it not the real deal and if it is rough or gritty it is the real deal.
So get out there and use your God given senses to start finding those great deals!
Information on this blog is information we have gained from talking to people, research we have done on the internet, tests we have performed on items, from family, friends and mentors, and from trial and error purchasing items and learning from our mistakes. To the best of our knowledge the information is true and factual. We are human and believe that as banks teach tellers to recognize counterfeit money by seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling the real thing. We learn the most when we have the real thing from which to learn. We have not come across all the real things yet. We are open to hearing your opinion and facts. Mostly, we hope you enjoy hearing about what we are learning.