What are Antiques?

By: Craig Rad

There was a time when saucers without handles, Betty lamps, and cow shaped pitchers with black and white spots on it were fashionable to use at home. The next time guests come over to your place, try serving them tea in a saucer without handles. They would definitely raise brows, appalled at where to hold the saucer from. However, they now hold value as antiques. If such a cow shaped pitcher, with black and white spots on it is visible in a showcase, then it serves as an object of decoration, and symbolizes the olden times.

Is it the age of the object which defines its antiqueness? Yes, and No. Most certainly, if an object is more than 50 to 60 years old, and is in good condition, it is labeled as antique. An official definition of an antique is stated in the Tariff Act of 1930. According to Paragraph 1811 of that Act, antiques are works of art except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700, collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830.

Every day, one comes across many things which are old. Some belong to grandparents, others you see in shops. And most of the times, people take old items to be as junk, and fail to recognize them as antiques. For instance, how many young women identify a sewing bird correctly when they see one, and how to make use of it? They are liable to be perplexed even when a miniature velvet pincushion is attached. The sewing bird, generally of metal, is a decorative clamp to be fixed firmly to a table. It grips the material in its beak to smooth the progress of hemming, and was an excellent aid when all sewing was done at abode.

Once the antique has been identified as truly antique, then its worth has to be calculated. The age, quality, present condition, value, uniqueness are all factors which have a direct impact on the worth of the item in discussion. Many times, the item can be repaired if it is in a condition which needs improvement, other times it can be restored. Both these processes require craftspeople with excellent skills, so that they modify the item without making it lose its worth.

Is there any relation between an antique and a collectible? Antiques are rated by their worth as per the definition above while collectibles may be any item which may or may not have any worth, no matter how old it is, but add to the collection of the collector. So next time you think you have an antique, evaluate its worth. If there is any, then its an antique. Otherwise, it would be better to sell it at the best price to any collector, who would value it as a part of his collection, but not as an antique.

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