Antique vs. Vintage: The differences May 23, 2017 – Posted in: General
What separates man from beast? As the scope of human knowledge has expanded over the years, traits we once considered as unique to our species have been identified as characteristic to others in the animal kingdom. Art, however, is something that remains entirely exclusive to human beings. And in the contemporary era of DIY plastic furniture and cheap costume jewellery how does one determine the quality of outstanding craftsmanship in, for example, an expertly crafted Late 19th Century Aesthetic Movement Cast Iron Coal Stove and a poorly constructed modern knockoff? Furthermore, and importantly, is the piece of furniture or jewellery you are dropping some serious dough on indeed vintage or antique as advertised?
In the contemporary era of social media and online shopping ‘buzzwords,’ like ‘pre-loved,’ ‘retro,’ and ‘chic’ are often used to sell products, influence opinions, and create an identity or ‘online presence.’ However, simply because an item has the word ‘antique’ or ‘vintage’ in front of it does not secure its authenticity. As such, this kind of terminology can be hazardous to potential customers as they are often misused or used interchangeably.
So what is the difference between antique and vintage? In basic terms, antique refers to an item that is older than 100 years, while vintage is used to describe an item that is between 50 and 100 years old. However, a quick Google search will reveal millions of hits for these buzzwords, with very few of them retaining authenticity. This then begs the question: How does one tell if a product genuinely antique or vintage?
Although the industry generally characterises an antique item as over 100 years old, identifying whether or not a product is authentic goes further than that. That is, it is agreed upon among collectors that the item should be primarily in the original condition, with little to no restoration. Simply being ‘old’ does not characterise an item as antique either, it has to be of historical or aesthetical magnitude. These items are often labelled incorrectly so it is important to only buy from reputable sources or have someone who can help you determine if an item is legitimately antique. Beware of products labelled as ‘antique-style,’ as these are more than likely reproductions that may have little to no worth to a collector.
Unlike ‘antique,’ ‘vintage’ is more loosely categorised and is not tied to any trade legalities. To this end, there are various meanings that are accepted as defining the term vintage, which can become confusing. Some hypothesize that if an item is not antique it must be vintage. Others claim that in the most basic of definitions, a vintage item is considered “of a fashion that was popular in a different era.” However, this implies that an item can be regarded as vintage even if it simply mimics the style of a different era, which is problematic when it comes to purchasing or selling items. Nevertheless, because the term originally derived from the term used for dating wine, the generally agreed upon consensus among experts in the trade is that a vintage item should be between 50 and 100 years old and be dated. That is, if an item is to be characterised as vintage it should, then, state either the year, or at the very least the era, during which it was produced.
We at Ziora pride ourselves on our reputable sourcing of only authentic and expertly crafted collectables.