Antiques, modern antiques, vintage and design

Antiques, modern antiques, vintage and design: very different categories but that often get confused in the common jargon. What is their difference? When does a piece of furniture can be defined an antique and when a piece of design? What do modern antiques and vintage consist in? Can a piece of furniture of the 20th century be considered an antique? Let’s clarify these similar but substantially different terms.

What are the antiques?

With the term antiques we refer to a piece of furniture, an object or décor that has at least one hundred years and it is usually a precious, rare and to be collected piece. Antiques furniture and objects are ancient pieces that have a history and that have been handcrafted with high-quality materials. Antiques collecting has a long-standing history: already in the Roman Age they used to buy and collect Greek paintings and sculptures from the Classical period; this way of collecting goes on till the 18th century when the figure of the modern art dealer is born. Antiques include various categories of objects and pieces of art: ceramics, antique furniture and paintings, decors, sculptures, vases, clocks and lamps. However, all these items must have characteristics of quality in the manufactory and the materials, aesthetics, a good conservation state and have a historical-artistic value. 

An example of a precious antique piece of furniture
Flapped doors commode, Lombardy, 18th century

What are modern antiques?  

With modern antiques, we refer to those objects and pieces of furniture produced after the second world war both industrially and handcrafted. They are not to be considered antiques as they are not old enough, but they are not even signed by important designers or have particular value. Decors and furniture commonly used in the 20th century can be considered modern antiques.

What is vintage?

The main difference between antique and vintage is dictated by the production period of the objects taken into account, may it be a piece of furniture, décor or an object. An object, to be defined as vintage, should at least have twenty years but also objects, furniture, dresses, cars or wines of previous centuries can be considered so. As a matter of fact, the term vintage derives from the ancient French vendenge, a term that was used to indicate the wines’ best years. The word vintage is thus used to indicate the particular quality of an object or an epoch good.

What is design?

Furniture, objects and decors can be considered of design if they are signed by important artists and designers of the 10th century. Design is born at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to the movement Arts and Crafts with the English Industrial Revolution. Design furniture and decors are industrially produced, combining aesthetics and creativity to the functionality of objects of common use. Important Italian designers are Gio Pont, Carlo Scarpa, Cassina, Franco Albini, Osvaldo Borsani.

Antiques, modern antiques, vintage and design: the value on the market

Antiques, modern antiques, vintage and design represent substantially different categories of collecting not only different in the epoch and in the quality but also in the value. As for furniture and decors, the antiques and design ones have a higher value in comparison to the modern antiques and vintage ones. However, vintage bags, clothes, cars and wines can reach very high ciphers especially when they are rare and difficult pieces to recover. In order to have further information on the valuation of an antique object visit our page Antiques Valuations.

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