I was interviewed by a reporter from a major Washington D.C. newspaper recently and she said, “Everybody knows that young people don’t want antiques” and I had to tell her that she was wrong. She didn’t care for my reply but when I showed her the many millennials who prefer antiques to other home furnishings and pointed to other experts in the field who agree with my assessment of millennials’ feelings about vintage and antique objects, she was convinced.
Many people have asked me about millennials and their roles as antique collectors. There is a rumor going around that today’s millennial generation do not want antiques. It was said to be started a few years ago by dealers who wanted an excuse for the change in the market for antiques but alas, society doesn’t support this myth.
How do I know? I heard it straight from the horse’s mouths—that is directly from the many millennials I meet at my events, during video call appraisals and followers of my YouTube.com/DrLoriV channel where I teach and appraise art and antiques.
Some of the millennial generation collectors shared their views about collecting antiques with me. These young collectors’ comments may surprise you—it’s not at all what you have heard. They told me:
“We (my husband and I) collect antiques because antiques, unlike newer pieces, stand the test of time. My generation grew up with inexpensive, disposable furniture that you had to put together yourself. Antiques are made of high-quality materials. That’s why we like them.”–Sarah, Burlington County, NJ
“I care about family heirlooms and family history; I like many types of vintage pieces. I think millennials like to mix and match vintage stuff with contemporary styles when decorating their homes, apartments, lofts.”–Kim, Boston, MA
“My wife and I are newly married and we go to estate sales, thrift stores, and yard sales. We find cool things for our new home at low prices. I like the history and she likes the artistry.” –Stephen, Novi, MI
These millennial collectors quoted above were enthusiastic about learning how to identify art, antiques, and valuable collectibles and have been enjoying the journey of learning history through objects.
And Sandra, a 70-year-old grandmother from Houston, Texas, told me of a story concerning her granddaughter and a set of family china. Her story was eye opening to many people when I retell it on stages across America. Sandra explained, “My granddaughter was furious with me when she heard that I donated my vintage china set to the Goodwill instead of offering it to her. In my defense, I asked my 50-year old daughter if she wanted the china set and she said she no because she had her own china. So, I thought it was ok to give it away. I never thought of asking my granddaughter if she wanted my china set. She really wanted it! She told me that her memories were with the set and she was not at all happy that I overlooked her when inquiring about the next owner of the family china. Boy, I learned my lesson!”
In addition to family china and other heirlooms, here is a short list of some of the more popular antique and vintage items that are popular with millennial collectors: vintage vinyl records, fine art pottery, 1970s era furniture, Star Wars collectibles, Native American artifacts, video games, vintage couture and accessories (purses, hair clips, shoes), and Art Deco home décor accessories.
Some people in the antiques market (buyers/sellers) want other people to think that the generation of millennials don’t want antiques. Why? So they can get the fine art and antiques cheaply from downsizing baby boomers under the guise that their young millennial relatives don’t have any interest in buying vintage or antiques items. What’s more, millennials have a keen knowledge of how to monetize unwanted objects online. They are comfortable with flipping unwanted vintage objects, antiques, and collectibles in our 21st century object-laden world using apps, online auction sites, and smartphone technology. Don’t think for a minute that members of the millennial generation don’t want art or antiques or family heirlooms. Ask them! Before you sell, gift, or donate to someone else, ask your grandkids about your antiques and collectibles. Explain the history and be prepared, they just might surprise you.
Dr. Lori Verderame is the award-winning Ph.D. antiques appraiser on History channel’s #1 hit show, The Curse of Oak Island and weekdays on the Doctor and the Diva. Dr. Lori presents offers various types of appraisals online, via video chat and at events. Visit www.DrLoriV.com/events or call (888) 431-1010.