Guest Post: Antique VS Retro VS Vintage: The Great Debate

While pondering all things retro we started to wonder exactly what the difference is in an antique, vintage or retro item, so we have asked Kirsty Machen of Mint to share some of her wisdom on the subject. Mint has been with us at i heart market for almost 3 years and also has a online shop. Kirsty has a great eye for beautiful finds and her stock moves fast! So, you have to get in there early.

"For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been running an online retro store for the past three years, so I spend my time divided between sourcing stock, taking photos, and writing about all the treasure I find. But I have to say, and I’m sure that the same is true for most dealers, that the most exciting part is the hunt! There’s nothing more thrilling than finding something that you love, at the right price, that you know other people are going to love too! But one of the hardest things I experience when I’m out looking for items to buy is explaining to sellers what I mean when I say that I collect ‘retro’. Of course some people know exactly what I’m talking about, but others haven’t a clue, and while I intrinsically know whether something’s retro at a glance, I actually have no idea what the real definition of the word is! So when Anna asked me to write something for the latest retro-themed Spiga Showcase, I thought a (very) brief tutorial (for myself and everyone else!) on the difference between ‘vintage’, ‘retro’ and ‘antique’ might be a good idea.
‘Antique’ really is the easiest term to write about because it has a clear cut definition – there’s been talk from experts of reducing the number of years, but as things stand it’s still 100+ years that makes something an antique. Also because of the recognisable styles of the Victorian, Regency, and earlier, periods, it’s fairly easy to identify something as an antique (although with time catching up with us that will change soon enough). The problem really lies in defining ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ and the difference between the two. Some sites put vintage at 25+ years and retro at 50+ years old, but I don’t think that these are universally accepted numbers, and to be honest, for me (and I think a lot of people out there) it has more to do with the style of a piece than its age. The way I see it, ‘retro’ items, whether they be furniture, clothes or kitchen appliances, have a very distinctive style and were the height of fashion at the time. So while a vintage piece might have some serious age to it, it won’t ‘pop’ in quite the same way that a retro item will. It may well be very attractive, but it won’t have the same design element that a retro item will.  Does that make any sense people? I hope it does!"
Below are some pics to help demonstrate the idea behind my theory:

 Vintage Colcough cake plates/ Vintage enamel serving spoons/ Vintage Noritake soup bowls
Vintage globe/ Vintage kitchen jar

Retro aluminium tray/ Retro stainless steel coffee and teapots/ Retro dessert bowls

Retro cast-iron pot/ Retro melamine coffee cups

‘Antique’ ornate wall mirror (reproduction piece, probably +- 60 years old)/ Antique Victorian Scottie door stopper

Antique art nouveau wall tiles/ Antique Wedgwood cabbage plate

Mint, The Retired Goods Company puts up four items for sale every week day. 
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