Vintage Missal

Why does everything get called vintage?

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Feeling more vintage every day?

Vintage has become a popular term people use to describe items from the past. From fashion to furniture, it seems like anything old can get labeled as vintage. There are a few reasons for this vintage trend:

Nostalgia draws many people to vintage items because they evoke feelings of nostalgia. Vintage reminds us of past eras and can transport us back to happier, simpler times. This nostalgic quality makes vintage appealing.

Mass production has made much of what we buy today feel impersonal. People often handmade vintage items or gave them unique quirks that set them apart from modern versions. The uniqueness of vintage is desirable.

Buying vintage reduces waste and keeps items in use instead of sending them to landfills. The sustainability factor makes vintage an ethical choice.

In a world of artificial and disposable goods, vintage offers something perceived as genuine and authentic due to its age and previous use. This perception of authenticity lends vintage charm.

People often carefully crafted vintage items to last using higher quality materials and methods than we see today. The sturdiness and quality of vintage holds value.

So in summary, vintage has become a buzzword because its nostalgic uniqueness, ethical sourcing, authentic charm, and sturdy craftsmanship appeals to many consumers today.

French Creil Ceramics and Vintage German Ice Bucket. Source: Renaissance Bleu

Is 25 years old vintage?

There is no universally agreed upon timeframe for when an item becomes vintage. However, a general rule of thumb is that people consider an item around 25 to 100 years old as vintage. The word vintage comes from the Old French word ‘vendage’ meaning wine harvest. Originally, it referred to the year grapes got harvested and turned into wine. So an early definition of vintage was wine from a specific year.

Over time, the concept of vintage expanded beyond wine and came to signify things – especially pop culture items like clothes, music, cars, etc. – associated with or originating in a specific era. An event horizon of around 25 years emerged for declaring items vintage. This is about one generation’s distance, long enough for distinct cultural associations and nostalgia to develop.

So using a 25 year benchmark, items from the late 1990s like Game Boys, Beanie Babies, Tamagotchis, and more qualify as vintage now. However, vintage status also depends on factors like condition, rarity, aesthetics, and desirability. Not everything 25+ years old achieves vintage cool. But the quarter century mark provides a helpful starting point for appraising an item’s vintage status.

90s Game Boy by Nintendo. Source:

How old is vintage vs antique?

People use vintage and antique to describe collectible old items, but they have different age thresholds:

Vintage generally refers to items approximately 25 to 100 years old. The 100 year limit distinguishes vintage from antique.

An antique is an item over 100 years old. People view antiques as more rare, unique, and valuable due to their advanced age compared to vintage pieces.

The 100 year antique threshold serves as a guideline but not a hard rule. Some antique authorities argue top-tier antiques must be over 150 years old. While others consider fine, scarce items from the Art Deco era of the 1920s/30s as antique already.

The key distinguishing traits between vintage and antique are:

Vintage – 25 to 99 years old, mass produced, nostalgic, communicates era aesthetic
Antique – 100+ years old, rare, handcrafted, historically significant, precious

So in summary – vintage is retro cool from recent history while antique denotes aged wonder from distant eras. But there is overlap in usage depending on the appraiser.

1950s Dinette. Source:  Deborah White
A George I Walnut Wing Armchair C.1725. Source.

What makes something vintage vs old?

There are a few key factors that make an older item vintage vs just old:

Vintage items represent the aesthetic, culture, and zeitgeist of their era. They communicate the look and feel of that time period. Just old things are outdated but not epoch-defining.

Vintage evokes feelings of nostalgia, reminding people of their youth or bygone days. Old things don’t necessarily generate nostalgia.

People keep vintage in good or excellent condition consistent with its age, showing care and retaining charm. Old things are worn out, damaged, or dilapidated.

Vintage tends to be rare and hard to find, not mass produced. Old things are often commonplace and easy to find.

Vintage has high quality materials and craftsmanship that stand the test of time. People cheaply made and disposed of old goods.

Collectors and others seeking a piece of history covet vintage. Old stuff does not have market demand or value.

So in summary, vintage must create nostalgia for the past, be special in some way, and maintain its integrity over time, distinguishing it from just old.

Jukebox. Source.

Does vintage mean classic?

Vintage and classic have overlapping meanings but some notable differences:

Vintage refers to the age of an item from the past that retains aesthetic and cultural relevance. The age varies but people commonly define it as over 20 years old.

Classic refers to the quality of items that represent the highest quality, innovation, and influence of their kind that stand the test of time. Age is not always a factor.

When a classic item reaches vintage age status (over 20+ years old), it achieves both classic and vintage distinction. For example, a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag or Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses are 20th century classics that qualify as vintage now.

Simply being old enough to be vintage does not necessarily make an item a classic. Some vintage items trend in and out of fashion or popularity and don’t achieve classic longevity.

In summary, vintage and classic overlap when vintage items reach an age where their enduring quality and appeal becomes clear. But vintage alone relates more to nostalgic style from a bygone era.

Portrait of a noblewoman, Sir Godfrey Kneller

What makes something look vintage?

There are a few key qualities that give items a vintage look and feel:

  • Faded, distressed colors
  • Yellowed, off-white hues
  • Crazing, hairline cracks
  • Patina, worn etched textures
  • Aged materials like metal, wood, leather
  • Noticeable repairs and imperfections
  • Outdated typography and logos
  • Earlier technological designs
  • Period accurate shapes, patterns, and decor

These physical traces of use and age add authenticity and a nostalgic charm to vintage items. Even newly manufactured products can capture vintage aesthetic when designed with these qualities in mind. Minimalism and sleek perfection feels modern while imperfection and quirky flaws feel vintage.

It’s more than just appearances though. Vintage items seem to have what philosophers call “object aura” – a perceived spirit and story behind them. This comes from artistic expression and handcraftsmanship more than mass production. Vintage looks special.

Maton camera. Resource.

Does vintage mean expensive?

Vintage items don’t necessarily mean expensive. As with anything, price depends on factors like:

Rarity – How unusual or hard to find people consider the vintage item. Rare vintage tends to cost more. Mass produced vintage costs less.

Demand – How sought after and desirable collectors and shoppers find the vintage item. High demand drives up prices.

Condition – Pristine condition makes vintage more valuable. Items with damage or wear cost less.

Provenance – Vintage with verifiable history and origin often costs more. Provenance tells an item’s story.

Materials – Vintage made from luxury materials like silk, cashmere, leather etc. costs more than everyday materials like cotton and plastic.

Branding – Vintage from iconic luxury brands and designers commands higher prices. Unmarked vintage costs less.

Sentiment – Personal or emotional connections to vintage items make them priceless to owners.

So factors like rarity, condition, and brand make some vintage highly expensive. But much vintage with damage, wear, or common brands can sell very cheaply. If it has personal meaning, vintage pricing becomes subjective.

Antique toy shop. Resource.

Are the 90s and 2000s vintage?

People universally consider the 1980s and earlier decades as vintage. But defining more recent decades like the 1990s and 2000s as vintage sparks debate. Generally:

The 1990s decade has entered vintage territory by passing the 25 year vintage threshold. Nineties fashion, music, cars, toys, and electronics now sell as vintage.

The 2000s decade doesn’t quite qualify as vintage yet but soon will. Y2K era items currently get described as retro. But 2000s styles and pop culture will become vintage as they pass 25 years old.

Youth culture moves quickly. Gen Z consumers may view 90s/2000s items as “old school” while Millennials feel nostalgia. So “vintage” relates as much to generational perspective as strict age.

Ultimately no definitive vintage cut off exists. Some consider mid century modern only 40 years old as vintage while others require almost 100 years. Vintage status remains subjective based on aesthetics, quality and personal nostalgia.

In general yes, the 1990s and later decades will gain “vintage status” over time as they recede further into the past and new generations experience nostalgia.

Sharp GF-9494 H (1980). Source.

Does vintage mean year?

In some contexts, yes, the word vintage alone refers specifically to the year something got made:

Wine – In wine terminology, “vintage” denotes the year grapes were grown and harvested, which affects flavor. A 1979 vintage wine came from grapes grown in the 1979 season.

Vehicles – With cars, motorbikes and other vehicles, “vintage” typically describes models made between 1919-1930. A “1920s vintage car” got made during that decade.

However, in general use the word vintage doesn’t specify an exact year. Additional context establishes the era or date range to clarify meaning, like:

  • “1960s vintage dresses”
  • “Vintage 1990s boomboxes”
  • “Vintage mid century furniture”

So “vintage” alone doesn’t always mean actual year. More description may be needed. But in wine and vehicles vintage serves as shorthand for year.

The Gramophone Portable, the best and the cheapest. “La Voix de son Maître”, circa 1935. Source.

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