18 historical objects that confuse millennials



2017-01-25 10:29:34

Collecting antique items makes no sense to a millennial. Like, why would you want any of that old stuff, when today's stuff is so much faster, streamlined and more agile...

Unless, of course, we're talking about vinyl records or 90s trainers. Because, you know, they're cool.

Here are 18 historical collectibles that baffle millennials, and probably always will.

(We've also included the monetary value for each – just to keep their baby boomer parents happy.)


Millennials read. But they don't read books. They read Buzzfeed. Twitter. And their own Facebook posts.

You must understand, they don't have time for books.

Their loss.


A first edition of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the book from which "all modern American literature comes", according to Ernest Hemingway, will set you back around $3,000.

Alarm clocks

"Sorry I'm late guys. I forgot to charge my phone and the alarm didn't go off".

Just shut up and get an alarm clock you feeble millennial.


Early 1900s Westclox Big Bens sell for around $100.


The millennial likes to wile their Sundays away binge-watching the latest Netflix naffery.

Heading out to the local Blockbuster to grab a well-worn copy of E.T. is simply unthinkable.


Most VHS is worthless, but some rare horror titles are valuable. Copies of 1973's Lemora Lady Dracula auction for more than $1,000.


"Why would I want his autograph? Not when I can get a selfie with him. Or even better, a retweet!"


You can buy this Henry VIII-signed document for $80,000 - image courtesy of Paul Fraser Collectibles.

Postage stamps

The art of letter writing is dead.  

US Postal Service figures show that 44 billion letters and parcels bearing postage stamps were sent in the US in 2006. By 2015 – that figure had halved.

Email is the prime culprit.

But (annoyingly) millennials aren't solely to blame here. Because millennials don't send emails either. And why would you? Not when you can send a quick pic of your genitals via Snapchat. 


You can pick up a Penny Black (pictured) for as little as $40. The world's most valuable stamp is the unique British Guiana 1c magenta. The 1856 stamp sold for $9.5 million in 2014.

And if we're talking about postage stamps, we need to talk about…

Post boxes

Dangerous hazards to an inebriated millennial, Britain's red post boxes are highly collectible.

Keep an eye out for Edward VIII-monogrammed post boxes. They're rare.

Why? Because, as no millennial anywhere would be able to tell you, Edward VIII was on the throne for less than a year before abdicating to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.


A rare Edward VIII postbox. Elizabeth II pole-mounted examples start at $300, rising sharply as you head back through her predecessors.

Coins and banknotes

"Just Venmo me".


The 1652 New England sixpence is among the earliest coins produced in the US. Just eight exist. One sold for $431,250 in 2012.


"I'll Venmo you, yeah?"


$5,000 gets you a Marilyn Monroe cheque - image courtesy of Paul Fraser Collectibles.


The only map a millennial needs is in their smartphone. Or on their face, if the millennial is an "early adopter" of the car crash-inducing Google Glass.

They're missing out on objects of great beauty.


The first official map of the US, produced by Abel Buell in 1789, sold for $2.1 million at Christie's in 2010.


All mobile phones come with a camera.

Millennials predominately use them to pose for duck face selfies.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to take a photo, you needed a device designed solely for the purpose.


Leicas are the most collectible cameras. A rare 1923 O-Series version sold for $2.5 million in 2012.

Board games

The millennial grew up playing video games. The millennial still plays video games, especially Pokemon Go ("it's great exercise").

But board games? Er, what is this, the 1980s?


Complete sets of 1986's Fireball Island sell for up to $400.


The rise of the computer keyboard has done more damage to the human brain than any concoction of hallucinogenic drugs ever could.


Because today's computer user need never think ahead. Need never show any care. Never pause for a moment's clarity.

And it's all because of the delete button. No thought. No consequences. No problem! That's the life of the millennial.


Olivetti is one of the most collectible names in typewriters. Expect to pay around $250 for a top condition Lettera 32 model from the 1960s.

Wrist watches

Millennials don't need a watch because they have their phone – see "Alarm Clocks". Unless, of course, they own a "smartwatch" – which tells the millennial how many steps they've taken so far today, and gives them access to their emails (just in case – horror of horrors – they've left their "smartphone" at home).


Patek Philippe is the name in antique watches. The Swiss company's reference 1518 sold for $11.1 million in 2016 – a wristwatch world record.

70s clothes

Old clothes are in – it's called retro.

So long as they're not too old (or too young) you understand.

So, overly tight-fitting 60s drainpipes are on trend. As are overly baggy early 90s stonewashed jeans. But 70s flares, with a comfortable cut and an extra bit of pazazz at the bottom. Like, why would anyone want those?


You can pick up original 70s bell-bottom jeans for a few dollars at vintage fairs.


Why would you want to leisurely consult a handsome, thoroughly-researched tome produced by experts? Not when you have instant access to the collective-ignorance-of-the-prejudiced-masses-masquerading-as-fact that is Wikipedia.


A third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, from 1797, sold for £14,400 ($21,500) at Sotheby's in 2006. First editions from 1771 are especially rare and almost unheard of for sale.

Rotary telephones

The idea of having to go further than your trouser pocket to place a phone call is an absurd one to the millennial.

Yes, millennial, there was a time when you would call your friend at home on their telephone, arrange to meet at 8:30 and then you would, hey presto, meet them at 8:30.

Now, thanks to mobile phones, it's all "few mins late, soz xx" and "I'm on the bus, cu soon" text messages.

Just turn up on time you insolent millennial.


Original 1950s Bakelite rotary phones can sell for up to $1,000.

And while we're on the subject…

Phone boxes

Much like with post boxes, British millennials are confused on a daily basis by the presence of these iconic red pillars on their streets.


Two rare sights on London's streets in 2017 – a phone box and an original Routemaster bus. A good condition phone box will set you back around $1,500.

And don't even try to explain about phone cards (which were once collectible, but are truly not now).

Sony Walkmans

Millennials demand instant gratification.

Anything less than instantaneous music streaming to their "handheld device" simply won't do.

So how they'd have coped with taping songs off the radio back in the 70s is anyone's guess.

An original Sony Walkman from 1979 can net you up to $700 if it

An original Sony Walkman from 1979 can sell for up to $700 if it's in perfect condition.

And then playing them on a contraption that offered a one in 10 chance of mangling the cassette for eternity?

Hold on, perhaps these millennials are on to something…


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