As an appraiser, I receive calls daily from potential clients saying they have an antique to be evaluated. If the caller is in their twenties, they may be speaking about something only 30 years old. On the other hand, if I ask a room full of senior citizens how many of them think they are antiques, the majority of people in the room raise their hands. It’s a matter of perception.
Although we may see varying descriptions, there is a U.S. government definition for an antique. Guidelines were originally established by the U.S. Customs Service for import tariffs. In the Tariff Act of 1930 an antique was defined as an object made before 1830, after which mass production became common. In 1993, Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), also known as the Customs Modernization or “Mod” Act, became effective. These provisions amended many sections of the Tariff Act of 1930 and related laws. Thus, there is a rule of 100 years old to describe something as “antique”.
“Shopping For Antiques” from the Federal Trade Commission.
“Works of Art, Collector’s Pieces, Antiques, and Other Cultural Property” from U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a full time personal property appraiser designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers. She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.