Just what qual­i­fies as an an­tique? A float­ing yard­stick that is quite com­mon­place denotes any­thing that’s at least a 100 years old, and oddly, 25 years for cars.

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No less ar­bi­trary is the 1930 SmootHaw­ley Tar­iff Act en­acted in Amer­ica that de­fines an­tiques as ob­jects dat­ing be­fore 1830 – the ap­prox­i­mate birth of mass pro­duc­tion in the US.

In any case, the prin­ci­ple un­der­pin­ning an­tique col­lec­tion is re­search: it is the nar­ra­tive that of­ten writes the arte­fact’s ul­ti­mate price, be­yond the value of the ma­te­ri­als used, and the rar­ity of the crafts­man­ship em­ployed. For ex­am­ple, it’s no mere pen if it was used to sign a nu­clear ac­cord, and an­tiques are de­serv­ing of pro­fes­sional restora­tion where needed.

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