Antique, Vintage or Retro? What do they mean? There truly is not a definitive answer to this question but we can provide some insight to help you understand more clearly.
The word antique is a broad term, typically talking about an item that is 100 years old or more. Antiques can range from furniture, to decorations, to cars, and so much more. There is also the aspect of preservation and quality of an item to determine its antiquity. Often items are either altered, repaired, or damaged; this can change the value or authenticity of the piece. There are also many time periods that helped determine whether an item is antique and its provenance. An antique can also be perceived as having value due to a specific aesthetic or historical significance.
When people use the term vintage, they are often talking about things from the 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s (but not necessarily). This includes art-deco, mid-century modern as well as art nouveau. To be considered vintage something should show relevance to trends associated with that era. Vintage is often described as something being 20 years old or more. Some art-deco, (even though it is from an earlier time) and furniture from the mid-century modern period are considered vintage due to their significance and relevance in today's design world. Vintage is a piece that would define that particular style of that era.
Something that is considered retro has a whole other meaning. Retro is essentially a short form for the word retrofit. Retrofit means to furnish something with modified parts or equipment that are not necessarily available at that time. When it comes to the antiquing world the term retro means an imitative style, fashion, or design that is trying to recreate the past. Something that is relating to or being nostalgic of old fashion or styles.
When it comes to using these terms there is no right or wrong answer. We try to classify items based on their age, materials, manufacturing, style, and quality. All these factors will determine where a certain item will be classified. The antique world is riddled with guesswork and estimations, and we cannot ever guarantee everything; however that does not change the amazing and intriguing pieces that you will find.