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Is It Vintage, Antique or Both?

When it comes to furniture, lighting and other home goods, the words “vintage” and “antique” get tossed around quite a bit, and are sometimes used interchangeably – but what do those words even mean?</br></br>And, more importantly, what do they mean with regard to price, quality or authenticity?</br></br><strong>Vintage</strong></br></br>To be sure, these words do have specific meanings and they are different:</br></br><em>Vintage</em> (adj.) – denoting something of high quality, especially something from the past or characteristic of the best period of a person’s work. (Merriam-Webster)</br></br>Note here that we use vintage only as an adjective to describe a piece of furniture. Example: “She likes vintage mirrors.” This is a big clue!</br></br><strong>Antique</strong></br></br><em>Antique</em> (n.) – a collectible object that has a high value because of its considerable age. (Merriam Webster)</br><em>Antique</em> (adj.) – having a high value because of considerable age. (Merriam Webster)</br></br>The big differences here are the conditions of age and demand. To be antique, an object must not only be old, it must also be a part of some larger system.</br></br><strong>Vintage vs. Antique</strong></br></br>In short, almost anything can be described as vintage. It’s true we’ve baked certain expectations into the word (your brand-new hairdryer would likely not pass as vintage), but the definitional standard is lax to the point of being nonexistent.</br></br>An antique, on the other hand, must first be old. How old? Interestingly, the U.S. Tax Code weighs in on it, saying the object in question <a title="Mental Floss" href="http://mentalfloss.com/article/12887/what-makes-something-antique" target="_blank">must be at least 100 years old</a> to be designated an antique – unless it’s a car.</br></br>Second, it must be collectible; there must be some significance greater than the object itself.</br></br>So, something antique is also vintage if it’s of high quality, and something vintage is also an antique if it’s more than 100 years old and is a piece of a bigger whole. Make sense?</br></br><strong>Bonus: The ‘Retro’ Fit</strong></br></br>“Retro” is like “vintage” in that it’s merely a descriptive term used to imbue an item with a certain perceived quality:</br></br><em>Retro </em>(n. or adj.) – imitative of a style, fashion or design from the recent past. (Merriam Webster)</br></br>Often, “retro” is used to refer to objects or styles that have fallen out of fashion, but are now making a comeback. But, it’s also used to describe things that remain out of fashion.</br></br><strong>Vintage, Antique, Retro &amp; Value</strong></br></br>So, should you pay more for these words? It’s really up to you. Things described as “vintage” or “retro” can never be proven to have increased value because of those qualities, whereas something antique may have the pedigree to justify a higher price tag.</br></br>Beyond that, though, it boils down to whether you like it, which is as it should be.
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