Misused Antiques Terms

I hear so many so-called experts misusing antiques terms all the time. Watch your favorite antiques show and listen. Who is using these three terms below correctly? If they are not, in my opinion with a Ph.D. and museum experience, they are not experts to be trusted, but you decide for yourself.

Here are the terms and their correct usage:

1. Patina


I have been correcting everybody about this for decades. Seriously. Appraisers who claim to know furniture are some of the worst culprits of this misuse of an antiques vocabulary term. Watch and listen for it. Make it a game every time this term is mis-used. Patina is an application of color onto a piece of cast metal sculpture. It is not the residue or oily build up on wood. Picture above–not patina. Patina relates to metal, not wood and not wood furniture. Watch a video of me explaining patina and read more about this misuse.

2. Crystal

Crystal is any piece of glass that has more than 24% lead as an additive. One antiques reseller read my internationally syndicated column on crystal and wrote to me to say that many types of glass are called crystal whether or not they have enough lead. I told him that he may call it crystal but he is wrong. If it doesn’t have 24% lead, it isn’t crystal. Easy definition. You can call a dog a horse but that doesn’t make it a horse. It just makes you wrong. Watch a video of me explaining how to identify valuable crystal.

3. Print

Print has become a catch-all term for any type of reproduction. In fact, print is a term that may describe many different types of reproduced images on paper, canvas, or another support including but not limited to etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint, lithograph, serigraph, silkscreen, monotype, collotype, etc. The term Print has a negative connotation but it shouldn’t as some prints are very valuable. Watch as I explain how to identify a valuable print so you know.

Do you have a antique term you want explained? Email me so I can clear it up in a future blog post.

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