There are many different interpretations of the terminology used to describe products that were crafted in older eras. There is a difference between items labeled as antique, vintage, retro, and collectible.
The term antique is widely accepted as the label applied to items that are over a hundred years old. In the antique trade, industry experts state that these century old items have aesthetic and historical significance. Antique HQ reports that some dealers in recent years have tried lowering the age bracket to fifty years, which would make anything created before 1970 an antique. Most industry professionals disagree with this and believe this change would be detrimental to the trade, as it would dramatically lower the standards of the antique collector's world.
Antiques will stand the test of time when it comes to value. Regardless of present trends or market demands, an antique retains its worth over time. In fact, it may even increase as the years pass by.
The term vintage is applied to items that are at least 20 to 99 years old. It is said that it takes roughly two decades for society to agree upon and deduce exactly what style truly defined an era. The word vintage refers to the time frame in which the item was manufactured. Therefore, many merchants attribute specific decades to vintage pieces. For instance, a chair may be labeled "Vintage 1980's."
A vintage item should prominently display the most remarkable qualities of its time period. It should really speak to that time in history. Vendors will sometimes attribute the word vintage to items that have simply come back into style after a period of 20 years or so. As long as the product was actually manufactured several decades in the past, and it does not simply represent a previous style or trend, it can be labeled vintage.
This label tends to give sellers the most trouble, as it is widely used as a label for items manufactured in the 1950's. This is misleading, as those items are actually vintage. To be safe, merchants should only apply the word retro to items that are merely inspired by the style of past designs. If a chair was built in 2010, but has the look of and was modeled after popular chairs of the 1950's, it should be labeled as retro. In addition, retro can be used to describe pieces that are in fact aged, but not old enough to fall into the vintage or antique categories. For instance, a chair from the 2000's with design elements distinctive of that era could be called retro. It's a little bit old, a little bit new, but not from last season's collections.
The collectible is an item worth more because of its demand or rarity. It is a valuable object that could fall into the antique, vintage, or retro categories. Collectibles are not items that were mass produced, as many people may think. Just because a group or individual collects a type of product does not make it a collectible. For example, collecting baseball cards is a common pastime. Baseball cards themselves are not collectibles. However, the "T206 Honus Wagner" baseball card is a collectible. This is because the American Tobacco Company produced only a few copies in 1909 and it is extremely hard to find one today. Age and rarity make that card a collectible.