Antique furniture vs. Vintage furniture. Confused? You’re not the only one. Allow us to help unlayer the facts (pun intended!).
Both ‘antique’ and ‘vintage’ conjure up images of old items with class and style, perhaps with a peppering of unavoidable dust. But what do they really mean and is there a difference between the two words? Well firstly yes, there is a difference, and as we’re in the business of pre-loved furniture and decorative objects we thought we’d spend a little time writing this piece to help you put the argument to bed once-and-for-all (a gorgeous antique bed, of course).
Antique /anˈtiːk/ (noun)
A collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its age and quality.
This dictionary definition is a useful place to begin. From it we learn that antiques are desirable well-made objects from the past. But we must dig a little deeper – the word ‘antique’ derives from the Latin word ‘anticus’ meaning ancient. However when I hear the word ‘ancient’ it makes me think of something really old, such as the Mayans or the Aztecs, and you’d be hard pushed to find armoires, chairs and artwork from this time, so we still need to do a little more work…
The U.S. Customs have clearly defined that an antique must be 100 years or older, and this is a timeframe which is largely agreed with in the antique furniture and artwork world. Interestingly they also have a quality standard that states that an antique must still possess its original character and be less than 50% restored. Not all antique dealers are quite so strict, however the need for a piece of antique furniture to have little restoration does imply that the item is of a high quality and has been made according to the customs of its time.
So to conclude our antique section: an antique is a well-made, time-enduring piece of furniture or artwork that is at least 100 years old. Simple enough. But what about vintage?
Vintage /ˈvɪntɪdʒ / (noun)
the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced and the time that something of quality was produced
In all instances when searching the word ‘vintage’ the mention of wine is the first to pop up. It originates from the French word ‘vendage’ which means ‘the grapes picked during a season.’ Interesting as a standalone fact, but not overly revealing of why it’s a word we now relate to mid century objects of interest.
It’s uncertain as to when the word ‘vintage’ bled into interiors and fashion vocabulary, but it is now wildly thrown about to describe anything from a mid-century chair by Charles Eames to a 1980s brick mobile phone. It’s become a rather fashionable word that is freely and frequently used, but without doing some research it is difficult to know exactly how and why an object is truly vintage.
Many trade experts agree that it is an object which should be older than 50 years, but less than 100 (as we now know this qualifies as antique). Some have a looser timeframe and say that an item should be 20 years or older. Regardless of this detail, a vintage item should come from a specific timeframe, i.e. a 1950s teak coffee table, a 1971 vintage Peanuts comic etc. Thus Layer’s beloved items from the mid century modern period of 1933 to 1965 certainly fall under the vintage category. Ruby Lane helps to clarify this point further: an item described as ‘vintage’ should speak of the era in which it was produced.
So we hope that this little piece has helped to peel back the layers of Antique vs. Vintage (apologies, another pun intended!), but either way let’s have a glass of vintage wine sat on our gorgeous Henri XI French Antique Oak Chairs served from a Mid Century Swan Handle Brass And Oak Drinks Trolley.
VINTAGE ON THE MARKETPLACE
ANTIQUE ON THE MARKETPLACE
Post by Lucy Victoria Jackson, our wonderful contributing writer. You can read more about her work here.