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Vintage vs Antique vs Retro

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Vintage, antique, retro, words we hear constantly.  We see them in store windows, on online postings and when grandma tells us about her candy dish from the world’s fair.  What does it all mean?  Many use the definitions as interchangeable words.  But are they?  Can misuse represent fraud?  It may not rise to that level hopefully, but it can create confusion.  So after looking at multiple sources and speaking with several people I hope the following can help you to know what you are looking at and what you should look for when shopping.

Vintage is the most common word that gets used for a variety of meanings.  Vintage is actually supposed to be used for wine only.  Yup, vintage refers to the year a wine is made.  It is not supposed to apply to anything else.  However, like everything in society, somethings don’t always follow what they are supposed to.  When the word vintage is used in conjunction with anything other than wine it is meaningless.  You will hear many people say that vintage means from 50 to 100 year old but not less than 20 years.  Having read in many chat rooms that this is the “common” usage.

What is antique?  An antique item is anything over 100 years old.  This is an industry standard.  Easy, and straightforward.

Then, that leaves retro.  What does retro mean?  Retro is imitative of a style, fashion, or design from the recent past.  Something that is outdated but becomes fashionable again. Remember bell bottoms?  They became popular again for a brief time in the 1990’s.  Retro can also apply to furniture, art and other forms of design and art.

I hope this brief tutorial helps you when shopping at your local flea market or on ebay.

 

 

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