While some people use the terms “vintage” and “antique” interchangeably, the two have distinct definitions. People often confuse the two—after all, both terms describe an item based on its age. They are easy to mix up.

Read on to learn the difference between antique and vintage items and keep yourself from making this common mistake.

What Are Antiques?

In short, antiques are items that are 100 years old or older. Even fragile items like glassware must hit the 100-year mark to count as antiques. However, if an item is older than 300 years, it is antiquity.

What Are Vintage Items?

The term “vintage” means “of age.” Because of this, the age range of what we deem vintage is a bit less strict. Most commonly, however, vintage items are at least 40 years old or older.

Other Commonly Confused Terms

Collectors use many other terms to date items commonly confused by individuals who are not collectors. Here are a few and their definitions:

Classic: “Classic” often describes items that are 20 years old or older. This terminology is common in conversations regarding cars or music rather than furniture. For example, many people are familiar with “classic rock” or “classic sports cars.”

Retro: “Retro” is common in the fashion industry, though the term also describes furniture, decor items, and even toys. “Retro” describes items not old enough to have the term “vintage” or even to describe newer items. Retro can also describe new items inspired by old trends.

For example, we call a new pair of pants manufactured to emulate 90’s fashion “retro.”

So, now you know the difference between vintage and antique items. Collecting antique and vintage goods is a great hobby for anyone, no matter their age or antiquing knowledge. If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out Nelson and Nelson Antiques. We are reputable antique silver dealers who offer one-of-a-kind pieces and other great vintage options.