The other day, during a bout of temporary insanity, I wandered into an antique store. There were old paintings, old furniture, old postcards, old everything. As I walked the aisles, careful not to touch anything, I wondered: What makes something an antique? Is there an accepted definition?
I hit the Web in search of answers. The most widely accepted definition comes from a 1930 U.S. Tariff Act. This particular act defined an “antique” as “works of art…which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830.”
Why 1830? According to OldAndSold.com, “it was about this time that mass production and factory manufacture began to displace the making of individual pieces entirely by hand.”
Of course, that’s not to say that something mass produced can’t be an antique. Ask Yahoo! notes that “an object’s material and design can mean as much as the manufacturing method or date.” Additionally, there are many cases in which something less than a century old, sometimes called a collectible, is worth more than an honest-to-goodness antique.
In other words, the definition of an antique can vary from person to person. There are exceptions, exceptions to those exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions of the original exceptions. If you’re in the market for something old and expensive, it’s a smart move to ask a trust-worthy expert to appraise the object before you pluck down your hard-earned cash.
Got any tips on how to identify the value of antiques? How can you tell if something is really an antique or just made to look, well, really old? Please leave a comment below!
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