This post is about identifying decor objects of the past in categories of retro, vintage and antique. I will also be sharing with you how not to mistake antique finish for real antiques and what questions to ask when you buy.
Being a decor enthusiast, blogger, and a research maniac, the amount of information that I consume is insane. And most of the time I feel its wasted (not really) and ends up being in my head only. As a person who knows a little more about the subject that is close to my heart, I believe it becomes my responsibility to educate my readers. More so coz some business people take liberties from the confusion that exists. While telling lies to sell a product is an absolute no-no, not telling the truth to an uninformed customer is also the same.
So what I will talk about here is only and only from the perspective of decor objects and interior. We are not talking fashion or trends, so don’t generalize this as it doesn’t hold good for all domains.
Understanding the definition of Retro on Wiki is a good frustrating weekend project, so I will try and simplify it for you here. Retro means “of the past”, “backward” or “of past times”. Now how much past is what needs to be figured out.
In the design objects context only, anything that is 20+ years old is Retro. Now, I am in my 30’s, so things from my childhood are retro. The radio sets we’ve seen, the analog phones are all retro.
Good design products of today, become Retro 20 years from now. I think this is the simplest way I could have defined it.
Current day objects that are inspired by products that are retro are called Retro style.
Vintage again is something of the past and mostly spoken of in terms of wine. Vintage wine is supposed to be of high quality. Now “True Vintage” objects need to be at least 50+ years old. So 50 to 99 years old comes in the category of vintage.
All those Ravi Verma lithographs from our grandparent’s era come under the vintage category. For someone in my age bracket, things that our grandparents got made when they were our age, comes in the vintage category.
Reproduction of vintage products is called vintage replica.
Antique means “ancient”! Objects that have completed a hundred years are the “ONLY” objects that can be called “Antiques”. There are no two ways about it. My good friend Wikipedia also mentions that the term antique is used very loosely to define objects that are old. Thank you for the help wiki coz that brings us right where we started, uninformed people who get misled.
Years ago, I had received a request from an online store to review them and collaborate. Upon inspecting their website, I came across newly made items under the vintage category. I wrote an email to them pointing out that it is misleading customers and they should name the category vintage inspired or something like that.
I never heard back from them.
Guess what again!
They don’t exist now!
I hear a lot of people who say, I love collecting antiques. When you ask further is when you know they like to collect new brass idols.
A lot of businesses sell new brassware as antique. If you run a business, don’t mislead the customer by not educating them. You may lose the customer then, but once they are back, it will be a customer for a lifetime. Also, small businesses that are not honest and upfront with customers, find it very difficult to survive.
Some of the brass idols sold in the market today have a darker brown finish, as opposed to its regular shiny gold appearance. That is called an “Antique Finish”, newly made things made to look aged and old.
If someone is selling you something as antique, here are some of the questions you need to ask.
How old is it?
Do you know from where it originates?
Is there anything else from the same time period?
How can one identify antiques like there?
Can I take a picture to send it to a friend who knows these kinds of objects?
If it’s a genuine seller, you will have your answers. If it is not, you will know by then.