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Antique and Vintage Gift Giving

Diamond Victorian Stickpin of a dog’s head for sale on for $19,352

by Charles Snider for Ruby Lane


New York Yankee Stadium painting signed “Shelvey Dickerson” selling for $250 at
New York Yankee Stadium painting
signed “Shelvey Dickerson” selling for
$250 at

An antique or vintage gift can be one of the most treasured and appreciated gestures for the holidays. An antique or vintage gift is unique, and it comes with its own stories and built-in histories that continue and live on with the new owner and recipient. Antique and vintage gifts are also perfect for the “person who has everything” or the “hard to buy for” person. Each gift is unique and you can wager that your gesture cannot be copied.

Here are some ideas for holiday antique gift-giving for a special someone on your list!

A Good Sport

For a sports fan, college or professional, there are many choices available to help a certain sports team’s biggest fan and enthusiast. There are many framed gifts available for a sports fan that range from tickets and ticket stubs from significant games and matches to original black-and-white photography of a game or team. Of course, sports fans will also likely appreciate framed sports cards, and sports cards were printed for baseball, football, hockey, and many other sports. Antique sports team pennants and flags are also fine gifts and are readily available from online antique and vintage marketplaces.

Significant Silver


Antique Basketball sterling charm for the Interclass Champions of 1923 selling for $28 at
Antique Basketball sterling charm for the Interclass Champions of 1923 selling for $28 at

A very cool and unique holiday gift is a silver piece inscribed with a significant date or initials of the recipient. Historically, fine sterling silver was often inscribed with family initials, the initials of a newborn, the date of a significant event, or even an inscription like “Christmas 1924.” Imagine the delight when the person receiving your gift sees that it is inscribed with a special date, but from 100 years ago, or they spot that the silver cup, spoon, plate, dish, or decorative piece has the initials of the recipient. For a number of years, I gave several different friends who recently had babies, a sterling holiday gift that happened to have the month and day of their child’s birth. It can be a longshot finding a sterling silver gift already inscribed with a significant or meaningful date or initials, but the sterling silver market right now is so plentiful, so many pieces are available from online marketplaces that you may be able to find a beautiful and affordable sterling gift with the added sentimental value of a meaningful inscription.

Popular Pets

Diamond Victorian Stickpin of a dog’s head for sale on for $19,352
Diamond Victorian Stickpin of a dog’s head for sale on for $19,352

According to recent statistics, two-thirds of American households have pets, and the antique market is full of unique gifts for dog and cat lovers. The English monarchs Victoria and Albert helped introduce the dog as a domestic companion and member of the family, just as the Presidents have done in the U.S. So, there are many antique dogs available in sterling, bronze, brass, and porcelain. Dogs are portrayed very realistically in many early paintings as well. You may very well be able to find an antique dog sculpture, paperweight, desk ornament, or painting in the dog breed of your choice. Dogs are also plentiful themes in antique and vintage jewelry as well – brooches, lapel pins, cufflinks, and pins.

In a personal example, I am a dog enthusiast myself and was given an antique soapstone carving, likely from China, that actually resembled my sweet Shi Tzu mix named Archie, and it is a gift that I cherish. Cat lovers in your life can also be gifted a very fine antique cat gift. There are many English, Chinese, and French-made cat porcelains, bronze, and brass figures and sculptures. A cool cat idea is also to find a cat antique that is inspired by Egypt. Cats are revered in Egyptian history and there are many examples of Egyptian-inspired cat items in the antique market.

Framing the Future

Sheffield Silver Frame selling for $235 at
Sheffield Silver Frame selling for $235 at

Formerly a very traditional gift, treasured and cherished, but displaced by the cell phone, are framed pictures. So, while a framed photo is no longer a traditional holiday, it now makes for a superb non-traditional gift, and antique frames are readily available in a variety of styles and metals and colors. Antique and vintage frames are available in the standard photo sizes (4” x 6”, 5” x 7”, 8” x 10” for instance), and are affordable even if made of fine sterling silver.

Antique and vintage frames can be found that are made of brass (for a golden color), sterling silver, and light and dark woods. The color and style of the frame itself should complement the decor of the recipient, and with the wide range of antique and vintage frames available, you can find a fine frame for a cherished picture of a celebration, trip, or other event that will delight your friend, family member, partner, spouse, or colleague.

Lower Pricing, Higher Value

Lastly, consider an antique gift because you will always be able to find one that suits your budget. You will find more flexibility and options in the prices of antique and vintage gifts than the retail market will offer. You don’t need to wait for a holiday sale to find the perfect antique gift for a dog or cat owner, sports fan, sailing enthusiast, movie, or TV buff; the perfect antique gift for just about anyone on your shopping list is out there right now! Happy holidays!