Hemswell Antique Centres

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What is antique and what is vintage?

What is antique and what is vintage?


The antiques trade is far from dusty. From interior designers to collectors, people are bringing antiques out of dark storage spaces and giving life to old-world treasures in contemporary spaces. With changing tastes and new interior trends, investing in forever-pieces is on the up. But exactly what is antique? How old is antique? And what is the difference between vintage and antique? Read on...

What is the meaning of antique?

Because an item’s value is often relative to the worth a collector or individual places on it, the meaning of ‘antique’ can be somewhat subjective. As a dealer, understanding what is antique and what isn’t is fundamental to your buying and selling process. Using the wrong terminology can make you look dishonest and quite easily undermine your trade integrity, so it’s important to know the facts. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘antique’ as ‘a collectable object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its age and quality’. But it goes much deeper than that.

How old is an antique?

The trading standard, or perhaps a ‘purist’s’ definition of what is antique is an item that is more than 100 years old. Some believe items over 50 years old should be considered antique and some use an 80-year marker. It’s a hotly debated topic among dealers. New items become antique every year as they grow older and older.

What is the difference between vintage and antique?

The majority of experts have agreed that items over 50 years old but less than 100 years old can be called vintage or collectable, but not antique. Old, but not that old. 

Whether you’re selling vintage toys from the 50s or or vintage clothes from the 60s, the era or date of an item - just like antiques - should be stated. However, trade standards are not as strict about using the term ‘vintage’ as they are over use of the word ‘antique'. 

More and more dealers are offering upcycled pieces within this category, allowing space in stores and centres for repurposed vintage wares. Breathing new life into these often discarded vintage pieces offers fresh perspectives to vintage buyers: genuinely unique artistic items, crafted by artisans. For something a little different a browse through our spectacular upcycled vintage collectables.

It’s good to know that all of our antiques and collectables at Hemswell Antique Centres are properly labelled, so you can rest assured there’s no misleading sales tactics. Even better, you can examine pieces yourself on a fascinating tour of our buildings. As Europe’s largest antiques centre, you don’t simply pop into a shop and be done. You can make a day of it, trawling through our buildings and discovering everything from upcycled vintage lamps to ancient antique ceramics. Take a day out to explore and if you find that special item you love, we can always deliver it to your home if it doesn’t fit in the car.

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