i used the word. so i'll take a crack at it...
three things to say first, and i don't mean to be
smug. 1) if you have to ask the question, you'd
likely not get the answer. 2) sometimes the only
answer to 'why', is 'because'. 3) i don't know how
to describe it, but i know it when i see it.
in response to doland's query re: the pinnacle of
the vintage era, i tried to define its downslide by
inferring that once the pre-finished frame parts
came to be in full time use by full production factories
to small framebuiders, bikes, as were previously,
were no longer 'made', as much as they were 'assembled'.
i would compare it to heathcliff make-your-own
televsion kits, or slr cameras, or even player pianos!
the investment cast parts/plug-in dropouts/one-piece
brake bridge/bridgeless bb shell with CAST-IN cable
guides...all these time items came into being, not to raise
the quality level of the frame, but to reduce the man hours/labor
needed to produce a decent frame. the quality level at frames
shops had always been high. using the newer pieces added
nothing. perhaps not even efficiency. on the other hand,
as frame factories moved in to this era, it was possible to
add the cache of custom framebuilding to what previoiusly
were factory level frames.
after a point in time, the details that helped to make up
the hallmarks of fine framebuilding were now, essentially,
for sale to anyone who cared to omit/bypass experience,
training, intuition, etc., and make a lot of frames without
the labor previously needed. i view it as a good thing, not
otherwise. it allowed the bar to be raised for all involved.
but it heralded out the time that my answer to doland
was meant to address. period.
when all needed to make a table is a tool and a piece
of wood, both available from home depot, such a table
would not likely be revered in 'fine woodworking'
magazine, nor should it. the same holds true within the
context of vintage/pinnacle/etc. as my reply to doland
suggested: soul-less.