The Differences Between Vintage and Antique

A vintage jacket, an antique car, a classic vehicle, antique furniture. The world of antiques and vintage items often find the words being used interchangeably; however, there is a difference between an item that is considered an antique and one that is vintage.

Here are the definitions of these phrases and examples that differentiate between an item being vintage or an antique!

Vintage Versus Antique

The definition of vintage from Merriam- Webster states, “denoting something of high quality, especially something from the past or characteristic of the best period of a person’s work.” What does this mean? This means vintage is an older item that was designed or manufactured in its prime time. A real leather jacket from the 1940s would be considered vintage clothing. offers several definitions of the word antique: “of or belonging to the past; not modern;” “dating from a period long ago;” and  “noting or pertaining to automobiles approximately 25 years old or more.” What does this mean? This means antique represents an item that is significantly older of date.

It’s understandable why people interchange these two phrases so much, they seem very similar! However, certain items are differentiated between these definitions.

The differences between vintage and antiques  

With both of these meanings sounding so similar, it can be confusing to understand what makes something vintage and what makes something antique. These are some great examples to show the difference between the two.

Classic cars

An antique car is 50 years old or older. The Antique Automobile Club of America defines classics as being 25 to 50 years. The Classic Car Club of America has a bit of different years and times, but overall, follows just about the same measurements. The DMV will also care if your car is considered vintage or antique for license plate purposes. Depending on the license place there are regulations in place to follow.

Not sure how to figure out if the car is vintage or antique? Take the current year and subtract it with the year the car was manufactured and there you have your answer!


A piece of antique jewelry must be over 100 years old or older to be considered an antique. For a piece to be considered vintage it’s between 50 to 100 years old. In the jewelry world, more than likely, an antique piece of jewelry will not be worn. It would be displayed in a protected glass box. This is because the jewelry is higher quality materials and seen as too valuable to be worn. Your great grandmother’s necklace might be all the rage right now! This is what people understand as vintage clothing. The clothing is still older, but not seen as something too valuable not to wear.


Furniture is based on the same guidelines as the other items above when it comes to vintage and antique. A piece of furniture is considered retro, a subcategory of vintage, dating from the 1950s to 1980s. The piece of furniture must be defined as a style during a specific time period.

The understanding: anything 50 to 100 years old is vintage and anything 100 years old or older is considered an antique. Within each of these examples, there are subcategories for vintage style. For vintage cars, they are considered classics. For vintage furniture, it’s considered retro!

Now that you know, this will make bidding on any antique or vintage piece even easier. The easiest way to bid is with us!

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