Monday, 21 October 2013

Misdated Vintage Items

I guess it's not always easy to date a vintage item. But I think sellers offering vintage things should do some research before labeling an item as "true 40s vintage" or whatever.

I certainly do not pretend being an all-knowing expert, but after looking at tons of hats, purses and other vintage stuff, I guess I have a little bit an eye for certain details.

It all began with a row I had with a seller. The lady offered vintage 40s goggles or glasses. I liked them so I had a closer look. Suddenly I detected a clearly visible marking on the inside of one arm saying "CE". Living in Europe, this is a well-known marking to me, as it's common for many European products. The problem is: the marking was created not before 1993. Helpful as I am, I thought it might be nice to let the seller know about the mistake, so I wrote her a few kind words. She answers right away that she would take the glasses from the shop as they were not exactly "hot sellers". This had not been my intention at all, but as it was not my decision, I forgot about the whole affair.
About 2 weeks later I got a very angry, rude message from the very same seller. She was pretending that a collector bought on a different site the same glasses, that she would never ever again listen to a "so-called expert". Between the lines she was saying: "It's your fault I couldn't make a deal." I was very upset as well, as I knew I was right. And if there is something that gets me really angry, it's the ignorance of people who don't want to accept the truth and can't admit they were wrong. Well, I tried again to explain to her the thing about the CE mark. I even sent her the link for the article on Wikipedia, so she could look it up herself. No, she wouldn't listen to me.

I only regret I didn't make a copy of the picture with its original description to show you here. If you ever come across such an item, let me know. Just for the fun having a look at it.

I really think it's a pity. I am sure, there are many sellers out there doing a terrific job. They collect items, check them, store the, even clean them. I know how much work it is to take pictures and set up a listing. And there are all those who are not sure about the real age of an item and are grand enough to admit it. I can read so often something like "maybe from the 50s, but collectors know probably better". This is only fair, and I guess it pays off like that. Just be honest. Rather than pretending something and disappoint a seller that realizes she or he bought a reproduction item.

But there are other sellers who really appreciate getting an advice.

I saw this lovely hat up for auction, described as 40s hat. I didn't learn anything from my rather unpleasant experience. It was definitely beyond from what I can afford, but I had a look at the pictures nonetheless. On the last picture I could see the original price tag that was still attached to the hat. It was not only the familiar font, layout and words on the tag, but also the price itself that made me stop and look again.

The tag says: DA- HUT, "Damenhut", lady's hat, and "Groesse", size, in German. Therefore I realised it was a hat that was originally sold in Germany. And there was the price: 69 DM, Deutsche Mark. The trouble is: the currency Deutsche Mark was introduced only after WW2, 1948, so it would still fit in the sellers time frame. But from the look of the tag it was definitely not a 40s hat. The font style is very modern. To my guessing it was a 70s or even 80s hat, also the price could fit in that period, but I had to admit, it looks surprisingly 40s or 50s -like. To my opinion the visible pinking shear finish at the felt bow is a rather uncommon thing for a true 40s hat. (Since felt doesn't fray, what's the use of it at all?)

Of course a seller from the States cannot be so familiar with these details like me in this very particular case. I don't know very much about particular things that are well-known in the USA. But as it happens, I'm living very close to the German border, and since I was a child, we go shopping to Germany. So I know these details from my own experience. Maybe it was a mistake, but I thought it wouldn't be fair to deprive the seller of these informations, so I wrote her. She was very happy and said she would change the description. Yes, I know, I'm a naggy fault-finder. :)

There could be a lot such examples. Often you can see vintage patterns from the 60s sold as 50s or even 40s patterns. Of course, when it comes to fashion styles, it's not always easy to find the correct year, but it helps a lot to look at the hair-styles, the type of hat that's worn etc. And if still in doubt, just enter the pattern number in your favourite searching engine. It can provide you further infos, or look it up on Vintage Pattern Wiki - many patterns are listed with an exact copyright year, as someone else did the research job before you.


  1. This post is a great help for me, dear Doris. I'm sure I can be "tricked" with the knowledge of the seller (as in your first ejm.) or even without the knowledge of the seller (as in the second one), you can have your conscience, you are honest and that's much appreciated. Kisses, dear friend.

    1. Rosy, not everybody can afford true vintage items. And if I spend my hard-earned money, and something is labeled as true 40s or whatever, I want to be sure it's true. Especially as prices have gone up a lot I guess. There are so many who have NO idea and just want to make money, but surely there are as many who admit if they are not sure. Honesty is the key, you are so right!


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