Vintage dinnerware is a term that is frequently used to describe dinnerware, but few know what it really means. The word "vintage" has been traditionally used to refer to wine. The term is commonly used with a year to define the crop that the wine was made from. Over time, collectors have adopted the word to describe collectible items.
Today, the term vintage is often used with a year to define the period in which something was made. For instance, Anchor Hocking made the Alice pattern of Fire King from 1945 to 1949. So, you might find this glassware listed as "Vintage 1945" which would mean that the dishes were produced in 1945.
The term is also used without a specific year to describe products made during a high quality time of the past, to describe old-fashioned or obsolete things, or to describe something that was the best of its kind. Overall, things made in the past that aren't currently in production can be called vintage.
Some antique dealers claim that items that are over 100 years are antique, items over 50 years old are vintage and anything newer than that are just collectibles. Other antique dealers claim that anything over 50 years old is antique. When not even the professionals agree, it makes it hard for consumers and collectors to know what they are getting by the use of such terms, but honestly, does it really matter?
When shopping for dinnerware, know what you are looking for, the characteristics of the brand or pattern, and get familiar with the marks used by the manufacturer. This may include back stamps in the form of an actual stamp, a painted mark or an impressed mark. Sometimes the marks can be used to identify the date of the piece. Some dinnerware brands are unmarked. To date the piece, you may have to use a collectors' guide to become familiar with the changes in production of the dinnerware to identify what you are actually getting.
At any rate, buying, selling and collecting dinnerware is fun whether it is antique dinnerware, vintage dinnerware, or modern dinnerware. To me, it's all in the beauty and quality of dishes. I am not really concerned with value or the year of production. I just love dishes but I am prone to buying dinnerware that has some value.