A Timeline for Historical Periods and Dates in History

Bronze Age Palstave Axe Head

For those who buy antiques & collectables here’s a timeline list of the historical periods and dates in history that are often used by the antiques trade when describing an item.

Collectable Antique and Vintage
You’ll often come across items for sale that describe the object as ‘Antique’ or ‘Vintage’, this is vague in terms of an actual date, even in the broad sense the definition can be somewhat ambiguous. Here in the UK an antique is described as something older than a 100 years, however the term ‘Vintage’ is somewhat less determined but can usually be considered of an age between 40 or 50 years old.

Periods and Style
Using this in a description helps narrow down the date of manufacture or when it was made but does not precisely date an item. For example, an item of furniture could be described as ‘William and  Mary’ (see table below) that would give a date range of 1690 to 1730, not precise but good enough to pin down an era. Other countries may have different definations so no matter where you are, ultimately you have to decide if indeed the item is of the period as described.

The Prehistoric Period
An age where little or no written materials exists, ancient humans of the Paleolithic period are the first known to have left behind evidence in the form of art, cave drawings being an example. Basic hand carved tools crafted from bone and stone were used for hunting, they also carved figurines from stone, clay, bone and antlers. During the Mesolithic period arrows and spears were developed, and in the later Neolithic period, ancient humans developed items for use in agriculture (adzes) as well as early forms of pottery. Artifacts from these periods are more likely to be in museums rather than in private collections.


Bronze and Iron Age


Bronze Age Palstave Axe HeadArtifacts, items and coinage from this era ( 3000 BC – 100 AD) are not uncommon and the choice for the collector is varied. Precisely dating an object is not an exact science however through research, study and modern dating techniques we can ascribe rough periods in which they were produced, coins being the exception with more accurate dates.



Roman Britain

Roman Silver Siliqua
Roman Silver Siliqua


The Roman invasion (55- 54 BC) led to an occupancy which lasted nearly 450 years.  On a technical level they brought with them many skills, and on a personal level items of adornment and beauty. Their range of coinage minted both here in Britain and in Europe was vast. For the collector this means that there is a huge range of Romano British items readily available to buy on the open market.




Henry VII

Henry VIII


Mary I

Elizabeth I

James I

Charles I

Charles II

Charles II

William III

Mary II



George I

George II

George III

Regency period between

George IV

Windsor 1910

George V

Edward VIII

George VI

Elizabeth II


Style Types and Periods (Furniture)

Elizabethan – 1520–1620 – England
(also known as the ‘Renaissance’ period)

Jacobean – 1603–1625 – England

Carolean or Restoration – 1660–1685 – England

William and Mary – 1690–1730 – England

Queen Anne – 1702–1760 – England

Georgian – 1714–1830 – England

Rococo – 1730–1770 – Austria, Britain, France, Germany

Gothic Revival – 1740–1900 Britain, United States

Neo-Classical (1750–1830) – Britain, France, Italy, United States

Regency (1762–1830) – Britain, France

Victorian (1830–1900) – England

Arts & Crafts / Art Nouveau (1880–1910) – Britain, Japa, Mainland Europe, North America

Edwardian (1901–1910) England

Art Deco (1920–1940) – France, Paris, Europe

Mid Century Modern (1950 – 1970) –  Scandinavia