A Vintage FAQ ~ Just What Does “Vintage” Mean?

One complaint I often hear in online forums from people who are new to Etsy or vintage selling in general is that the word “vintage” gets thrown around a little too easily. And in some cases, I agree. I would cringe to see the word “vintage” applied to a collectible from 2006…but it happens. More on that later.
First of all let’s go to Etsy’s requirements for selling an item as vintage. If you’re not aware, you can only list an item on Etsy if it’s handmade, a supply for making something, or vintage.
From the Etsy Guidelines : “Vintage items are 20 years or older.

 For the most part, this is the guideline that I use…20 years+ although its a bit disconcerting to realize that anything from 1995 can be called ‘vintage’!! Yikes. Now I feel old. But we’re not talking serious antiques…we’re just talking about a way to categorize items so they fit in on Etsy. The Powers that Be at Etsy are striving to create a certain feel to the Etsy site…unique items that are either OOAK (One of a Kind) handmade or old enough that you can’t go out to the mall and buy them right now.

I was so excited to see this definition from Mr Merriam-Webster himself:
Vintage: used to describe something that is not new but that is valued because of its good condition, attractive design, etc.” (I also discovered a feature on the Merriam-Webster site…definitions for language learners. Because sometimes you need things written out in simple English to really get it) 
I love this definition! It has nothing to do with grapes and it sums up vintage so nicely! 

So actually, applying this definition…I could see a little more leeway in the usage department. I could understand if someone listed a Starbucks mug from 1999 as vintage…even if its not technically 20 years old (well this would have to be on Ebay, not Etsy). Because among the Starbucks mug collecting community..they understand that 1999 is on the older end of available mugs. So its ‘vintage’ within that genre. But that’s really a side point.

The main point is that vintage is unique! It’s generally not easily found…(unless its this bean pot):


So let me know what you think! What do you think of when you hear the word ‘vintage’?

7 thoughts on “A Vintage FAQ ~ Just What Does “Vintage” Mean?”

  1. vintage make me think mostly of well aged wine!
    OK, so I know that old cars that don't qualify as antiques would be considered "vintage." They should be in good condition and not rust buckets. People like to look at them and ask their owners lots of questions.
    Lots of old stuff is considered to be vintage by some people but rubbish by others so I guess that vintage, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  2. I like that definition of vintage – not just something old, but something with value. I wish I still had some of the toys and games from my childhood – now those would DEFINITELY be considered vintage!

  3. I tend to think of "vintage" as the beautiful dresses my mom made for herself back in the 1960s and 70s to wear to the policeman's ball every year with my dad. Or her 1952 MG convertible… what a gorgeous car that was!

  4. When I first started in this business it was 50 years old was vintage and over 100 antique . I still kind of stick to that formula but since the stuff from the 70s and 80s are growing in popularity I have found myself listing more from that era and calling it vintage .

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