Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is "Vintage"?

There's been a whole lot of discussion on the Etsy forums about what "vintage" really means. Some of the writers seem to think it shouldn't be used for anything except wine. They have a point. The word "vintage" comes from "vintner", which means "winemaker". You can see from the following reference on that they stress the wine connection, too:


1.the wine from a particular harvest or crop.
2.the annual produce of the grape harvest, esp. with reference to the wine obtained. exceptionally fine wine from the crop of a good year.
4.the time of gathering grapes, or of winemaking.
5.the act or process of producing wine; winemaking.
6.the class of a dated object with reference to era of production or use: a hat of last year's vintage.
7.of or pertaining to wines or winemaking.
8.being of a specified vintage: Vintage wines are usually more expensive than nonvintage wines.
9.representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies.
10.old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes.
11.being the best of its kind: They praised the play as vintage O'Neill.
–verb (used with object) gather or harvest (grapes) for wine-making: The muscats were vintaged too early. make (wine) from grapes: a region that vintages a truly great champagne.
–verb (used without object) harvest grapes for wine-making.

For most of us vintage sellers, Numbers 9 and 11 fit what we do best, I think. I personally was happy when "Vintage" became the catch-all word for the things I collect and sell. I never was completely comfortable with "Antiques and collectibles". Not all of it is antique, and not all of it is collectible. Most of my things are what I call "useful". Kitchen and dining goods, linens and laces, quilts, etc. When I think of "collectibles", I think of Franklin Mint or Bradford Exchange or Ashton Drake. It used to be that anything called "collectible" was something that might add to somebody's collection, whatever that was. But now there is an entire industry created to produce "collectibles". (And most of them now are essentially worthless, much to the dismay of the people who bought them thinking they were making an investment.)

At Etsy, "Vintage" is anything 20 years old or more. While I'm happy to go along with it, mainly so that I can post more listings on Etsy, I'm having a hard time thinking of anything from, say, 1988 as "Vintage". But the other thing that bothers me about that "Vintage" designation is that it has the potential to open the door for all kinds of junk. As long as it's older than 20 years, it's okay by Etsy. That's wrong, in my opinion.

"Vintage", as the dictionary says, should be "representing the high quality of the past" and "being the best of its kind". I think most Etsy Vintage sellers take pride in what they sell and use those thoughts as a guideline, so I don't see Etsy being inundated with junk any time soon, but I would love to see something about quality in their vintage guidelines. What do you think?

(Please note: My signature on this post is "Mona at Cabin and Camp". This is because I lack even a smidgen of technosavvy. I have two blogs on Blogspot, and I didn't realize I had to sign out of one in order to post on the other. It let me create the post, but now it won't let me change to my "Deer Path Vintage" name! I've worked on this for about an hour now, trying to change it, and apparently I can't. Boo Hoo. . .so here it is anyway, and from now on I'll try to get it right! Either way, it's me.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi - This is Sarah Jane & Bentley. I just joined the Etsy Vintage Street Team and found your blog from the discussion post.

    Here is my blog..

    I added you to my blog roll!!

    I agree with your post that it is hard to see the 1980's as vintage sometimes - I can't believe that was 20 years ago!