What Is An Antique? A Quick Definition


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Have you ever asked yourself “what is an antique?” For centuries the word “antique” was defined loosely as an old item, of value due to its historical significance, beauty or uniqueness. But “old” is a subjective term, what’s old to a 16 year old is not necessarily what is considered old to a 76 year old.

In the 1930s the United States Customs Office made a decision that would create the modern, and most widely accepted, definition of antique. Import fees are not collected on antiques and the Customs Office saw many taking advantage of the lax definition. Deciding to put an end to any confusion, antique dealers from across the country were polled and helped the Customs Office decide that a true antique was an item made before the era of mass production began in the 1830s. Deciding to not base the definition on a specific year but on a sliding scale, an antique officially became an item at least 100 years old.

Antique expert Michael Flanigan spells it out here.

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