Retro Items

Vintage 101: Your Guide to Vintage Items

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It seems as though the word 'vintage' is being used more often these days. The appeal of vintage items isn't surprising with their intricate details, slight allure of mystery and emergence from another time; however, not all items that are referred to as 'vintage' are actually vintage items. Just because an item looks or seems old doesn't mean that it is indeed considered vintage. So how can you be sure when you're shopping for collectibles? The good news is that with a little knowledge and research, you'll be able to find real vintage items on your quest. Here's your guide to vintage items.

Antique, Vintage & Retro: What's the Difference?

Older items are typically classified into three categories: antique, vintage and retro. Antique items are the oldest of them all, classified as being over 100 years old. Now, vintage items are not this old. Many collectors use the term “true vintage” referring to items that are at least 50 years old. A good way to classify a vintage items is:

  • If the item is not older than 100 years.

  • But if it is no less than 20 years old.

The next term that we seem to hear a lot these days is retro. This is especially common in home design and collectibles, and refers to a style that is outdated. So for example, retro could mean items from the 1960's and 1970's but it could also refer to items from the 90's and early 2000's. Retro is a term that is used when items are no longer in style, not necessarily items that correspond to a specific time period in history.

How to Tell If an Item is Vintage

When you're looking at an item, it may be difficult to tell if it is an antique or a vintage piece right away. The key is to take a closer look at the item and analyze it for some tell-tale signs. If an item is marked by a label, tag or stamp, you may be able to get a bit more information about it by doing a little research. Lot numbers can really help in your research efforts, as they make it easier to discern when an item was manufactured.

Brands may have also gone through a redesign throughout the years, so if you notice that an item has an older tag, you may be able to easily find when the re-branding occurred. The same goes for companies that no longer exist. Look into who made the item (if that information is available to you) and see when they closed up shop. Looking closely at the details and doing a quick bit of research can really help you sort out the real deal from the imposters.

Where to Find Vintage Items

There are many places that have these seemingly 'hidden' gems available, such as:

  • Consignment shops

  • Donation centers (like Goodwill)

  • Garage sales

  • Estate sales

  • Online auctions

Appreciating the value of vintage items is important. After all, these items have withstood the test of time and have been through many periods of history. In learning more about where these items came from, you're able to increase your knowledge about all things vintage, so that you can find the pieces that speak to you.