4.10.1 – Antique vs Vintage

Last Update: 08-09-2022 @ 06:35

Antiques
and Vintage Clocks

American Clock Co. – 1860
(ID184: All Rights Reserved)
Smiths, England – c. 1950
(ID064: All Rights Reserved)

In the following, we will distinguish the concepts of antique and vintage objects. And we’ll apply them to clocks.

4.10.1.1 – The Concept of Antique

The concept of antiquity dates back to the dawn of time. Indeed, it first refers to this very ancient general period of world history. The word refers to ancient objects called antiquities, by extension. These objects, resulting from archaeological discoveries, have often been found in museums, like ancient time-measuring instruments such as clepsydras and solar clocks. Closer to us, some old objects, more century-old than millennia, ended up in antique shops.

The Antiquarian, First an Archaeologist

But what is an antiquarian? As early as the 16th century, the word antiquarian describes “a person involved in the research and study of the monuments of antiquity” (Diderot’s Encyclopedia). At the time, the antiquarian was, in a way, an archaeologist. However, the meaning has evolved to refer to lovers of ancient objects. At the time, they ran in France cabinets of curiosities. They multiplied under Louis XIII and Louis XIV. They allowed antiquarians to display their finds. Little by little, they began to exchange them and then monetize them.

From Antiquarian to Antique Dealer

Thus, the antiquarian became an antique dealer. But the growing shortage of antique objects has led antique dealers toward ancient artifacts. The difference between the two is a question of age. Antique objects will be said to be millennia old. The ancient objects are instead centennials. So, to qualify a clock as ancient, it must be at least one hundred years old. In everyday language, however, they continue to be considered antiques.

The Antique Dealer Turned Vintage Dealer

A phenomenon similar to the one we just described has emerged. The antique dealers of yesteryear have passed from antique objects to ancient objects. Faced with an inevitable shortage of artifacts older than 100 years old, antique dealers have turned to more recent objects. From the 1940s to the 1990s, these objects became more affordable for amateurs than antiques. Little by little, they took a special place in antique shops. Some antique dealers have even made it a specialty. However, these objects had to be named to distinguish them from ancient or antique objects. What could be better than the term Vintage?

4.10.1.2 – The Concept of Vintage

The term vintage comes from the wine industry. It comes from the old French word “vendange” (harvest). For example, a vintage Porto aged well for years in a barrel. The same for objects and furniture from the two world wars and the post-war period of the second.

4.10.1.3 – Vintage and Retro

Vintage has finally become a fashion, and its objects are trendy. This phenomenon is no stranger to the Retro movement. This movement glorifies objects designed to resemble period artifacts. There are multiple retro clocks on the market. Please don’t confuse them with authentic vintages. The clocks, to be vintages, must be at least thirty years of age to distinguish them from so-called antique or ancient clocks.

Next: 4.10.2 – Historical Periods

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