We’ve all seen an episode or two of the Antiques Roadshow or Pawn Stars. But what really makes a traditional antique different from a classic vintage piece?
Beneath the sometimes dark and dusty surfaces, there is a world of difference between antique and vintage. When it comes down to defining both an antique or vintage piece, the key measure for comparison is age.
By understanding the subtle differences between the pair; homeowners, developers, stylists and everyone in between can work their own magic to really enhance any space by decorating with antique furniture, or even turn their trash into treasure.
By definition, an antique item must be at least 100 years old. An item or piece of furniture must have been made prior to 1920 to be declared an antique.
Antiques can range from furniture and artwork, to musical instruments and ornaments.
These items might be dust collectors, mouldy, or even completely unstylish. But a quick facelift can inject some extra life into these pieces, and grant them an endless supply of compliments from guests.
These items can also fetch large rewards for owners if they’re sold to the right person. Some antique objects may claim a high value purely because of their old age and quality.
Famous antiques include the Pinner Qing Dynasty Vase, which is understood to have been crafted for Chinese Emperor Qianlong – the item sold in 2010 for a staggering $86 million!
In 1994 Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leiceste – a collection of scientific works – was sold for USD $30.8 million. It instantly became the most expensive book, and antique, ever sold. The item was purchased by none other than the legendary Bill Gates.
In comparison, a piece of vintage furniture is purely subjective. Items that are classified as ‘vintage’ are not necessarily antique items. They are typically less historical, and a little less aged.
In fact, experts believe that for a piece to be described as ‘vintage’, it must be aged between 30 and 99 years old.
Sellers can often get away with describing an item as ‘vintage’, rather than the stricter prerequisites required to classify an item as ‘antique’.
Often, vintage items spark a nostalgic emotion in buyers. You may even have a vintage piece in your home, like old collectables, memorabilia or retro furniture. While there’s a fine line between hoarding and memorabilia, you never know how much those older items might be worth.
The term is also quite far reaching. A vintage item can literally include old clothes, postcards or other collectibles. Many vintage items are still practical, circulated widely, and boast a unique flair that is particularly attractive to younger buyers.
Famous vintage items include concert posters, like the advertising poster for the 1966 Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in New York City, which sold for USD $1.68 million.
Whether you’re inclined to choose antique period pieces, or would like to explore the broad realm of vintage styling, the options are truly endless. Just be sure to keep the 100 year old bracket in the back of your mind and you won’t go wrong—age really is the key to understanding the difference between antique and vintage.