14 words vintage sellers love to know

definition of vintage

One of the challenges of being an online vintage seller is finding the right words to describe your items. Some of those words are so cool they make us feel smart just knowing them. Some are the kind of words that are fun to say. We’re not ones to be stingy with information, so here’s a short and entirely random list of words we’ve used recently to describe vintage items.


A photographic process that was popular in the mid to late 1800s. Ambrotypes are glass negatives that were made positive by coating the back side with black lacquer.




Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, books often had a page at the very back of the book that listed the details about the book – who the author was, when it was published, and sometimes included advertising. “Colophon” is a Greek word that means “finishing touch” – an appropriate word for this special page.


Lenticular printedJiminy Cricket mug

A printing process that gives 2D images the illusion of depth or movement. Jiminy Cricket’s eyes are lenticular, they seem to blink as you look at them. 




Millefiori is the Italian word for “a thousand flowers” and is a glass-making technique. Multi-colored glass pieces are fused together, then cut crosswise and embedding in a clear molten glass that creates the floral-like pattern.



Reticulatedreticulated compote

On pottery, a pierced work pattern that forms a mesh or a net. Reticulated borders can be found on rare fine antique ceramics and on novelty travel souvenir plates from more recent times.



Rigareeglass rigaree

A decorative applied band of glass, usually frilled and crimped. It’s a bit like a cake decorator applied it as frosting.




Trompe-l’oeil is a French word that means “fool the eye”. Trompe-l’oeil items are usually painted very precisely to make things look real. These painted items are meant to deceive the viewer.



Things that exist or are used for a short period of time. In the vintage world, it applies to paper items such as souvenirs, pamphlets and posters, that were typically discarded but have since become collectible.



Goofus Glass 

Pressed glass that was decorated with bright unfired paint in the early 1900’s . Because it was mass produced by American glass companies and relatively inexpensive, it was often given as prizes at carnivals or as a gift with purchase at the local gas station or furniture store.



Parure refers to a set of matching jewelry meant to be worn together.  Such as a necklace, brooch, bracelet, and earrings, considered as a “full parure”. A semi, or demi parure would consist of just two or three matching items such as earrings and a necklace, or a brooch and bracelet set. The word parure is derived from an old French word meaning to adorn or to embellish oneself.


Firkinwooden firkins

Also known as a sugar bucket, a firkin is a small wooden lidded barrel with a u-shaped wood handle secured with wood pegs and bands.  A firkin could also have been referred to as a quarter of a barrel of ale or beer.  


Aurora Borealis 

No, not the northern lights but the finish that was first applied to crystal rhinestones back in the 1950’s. Also referred to as AB it is not a color itself per se but rather an enhancement or brilliance which also produces color changes as the light (or lack of) reflects on the crystals.




The term Amberina refers to a type of glass with gradient color most usually ranging from red at the top to amber at the bottom. Both, or either, of those colors may be deep vibrant colors or very light that is may appear pink with a light yellow base.



Anyone who grew up in the 1950’s or 1960’s should remember brocade.  It was the fabric of choice for the ultimate party dress back then.  Brocade is usually a silk fabric with silver or gold threads woven through it.    Brocade fabric dates all the way back to Byzantine times and was one of the few luxury items. Now brocade fabric is most often used for drapery or upholstery.












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