First if its super old, musty and moldy...and no not the underwear again... this is not an indicator that it is an antique. Sorry, you can put those panties back in the drawer again. No, wait, the trash please. There you go. Ok back to antiques. Quite simply an antique is considered an “Antique” when according to Merriam Webster an antique is "a relic or object of ancient times" or "a work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at an earlier period and according to various customs laws at least 100 years ago."
Ok so there you have it. Your item needs to be classified over a 100 years to priceless ageless to make it fall into the Antique range. There is also a cute online boutique for antique by the name of Ruby Lane. Ruby lane gives us a parallel definition to this, "Most authorities consider the actual definition of the term 'antique' to mean an age of at least 100 years. If an item is not definitively datable to 100 or more years in age, it should not be directly referred to as an antique."
The secondary definition offered is "a period of origin or manufacture" or "length of existence: age." So one could say that my Grandfather's 1928 SS Bugatti is a “Vintage” car. Now Ruby Lane once again offers direction around this term noting that "an item described as 'vintage' should speak of the era in which it was produced. Vintage can mean an item is of a certain period of time, as in "vintage 1950's" but it can also mean (and probably always should) that the item exhibits the best of a certain quality, or qualities, associated with or belonging to that specific era. In other words, for the term vintage to accurately apply to it, an item should be somewhat representational and recognizable as belonging to the era in which it was made." Ruby Lane also suggests that 'vintage' should not be used in reference to objects less than 20 years old.
Now based on Ruby Lanes definition the most interesting part of the statement above is the portion that states “In other words, for the term vintage to accurately apply to it, an item should be somewhat representational and recognizable as belonging to the era in which it was made."
A lot of the images that I offer for free on the Freebies page kind of become a conundrum as they are scanned digital images from True Vintage or Antique items. Can I technically call these digital representations Antiques or 'True Vintage'? What they are scanned from were, yes...but what of the images. They are from today's technology and a digital “representation”. Does this then categorize them as a Vintage Replica? You would almost be inclined to say yes but...what about a “True Vintage” Photograph. It too was just capturing something from that era at the time the image was taken so what makes that image 'True Vintage'? Basically if the image was actually taken during that era I suppose this in itself would classify it as 'True Vintage' because of the photo type, paper used and time it was taken.
So then back to the “digital copies” of vintage/antique images. How do we classify them. Without doing any image alterations to the actual subject it could be said that scanning or photographing it “as is” would make it an exact copy but taking a photograph of a Rembrandt doesn’t make it a Rembrandt. It becomes a whole other ball of wax too when you make digital alterations whether to improve or build upon the original image. I think at this point we can all agree that calling these digital images 'Vintage' is a wrong representation for this genre. It needs a classification of its own. I thought briefly of calling it 'Vintage Digital' but that in itself sounds ridiculous. It would be like calling my replicated Tiffany lamp 'Vintage New' or 'New Vintage' or “Old New”...you get the idea its' contradicting.
Here is where the issue comes in. Making a digital copy of the image is not actually making a physical replication as no tangible product is made nor implied. Other than the fact there is no physical product in your hand it is a true representation of the original image. This then you could argue makes it a replica but not in the sense that is brought to mind when using the word replication. I envision someone actually painting a painting or building a car to look exactly like the real thing its' modeled after but in the end its a fake. Based on all of this I feel digital imagery of vintage needs an extraordinary classification of it own. Something unique to this budding phenomena that encompasses both altered and non-altered imagery because in the end its not only hard to determine if its been altered or not and doesn’t even matter since its a new genre all onto itself.
I was going through the thesaurus looking for words around both vintage and digital. Then it just hit me. It was so simple. A simple name that explains exactly what it simply is; 'Vintage Imagery'. When researching the meaning of Imagery I found the following; “visual images collectively.” and "the impact of computer-generated imagery on contemporary art" or as in this case vintage art. Fabulous! We now have a classification for vintage/antique digital duplication.
So what then is Retro? Using our old friend Merriam Webster again who says retro is "relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past: fashionably nostalgic or old-fashioned." Huh? Isn’t that just another way of saying vintage? They sound an awful lot like the same thing. I decided to dig into this a little bit further by just googling it. Here is what I found. “Clothes, objects or music whose style or design is imitative of those of the recent past. AH! Ok. IMITATIVE is the key word. So unlike Vintage where things are replicated to look exactly like its parent or is actually from the era, Retro is specifically any current imitations to copy styles, art, objects of the period from which it tries to emulate. In other-words these items are influenced by the styles or feel of the era but don't exactly replicate. So if I were to still be wearing a pair of underwear that I sported in High school I wouldn’t be retro, I would just be outdated and grossed out. Shiver.
This then leaves me to the most recent issue I then have. How to classify a collection of some exceptional papers that I acquired back in 1998 while working for Kinko's. I became obsessed with these papers that have wonderful designs, textures and project possibilities. I just couldn’t get enough of them and yet here I am 17 years later with a collection that not only hasn’t seen the light of day but I may have only used a piece here and there and mostly not at all. Since these papers I would now assume are rare due to the time frame and condition I have decided to share them by dividing them into salable packs so others may not only share but create with these wonderful pieces. But how should they be classified. According to the information we researched above they wont be vintage for three more years. They definitively are not antique nor retro and can't be classified by yet another cliché term collectable. Does anyone actually collect paper to create with? One could almost say that these papers are “almost vintage” lol.
My final questions to you. What would you call paper in perfect shape that is 17 years old and what do the terms Antique, Vintage and Retro bring to mind for you?
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