Legal Definition of an Antique

A find in Australia may make you question the definition of an antique.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

An Australian man made international headlines when he discovered a glass milk bottle with a message from a construction worker who’d built his home.  He said it was like a legend, finding a message in a bottle from nearly fifty years ago.  1974 to be exact.  1974?  This made international headlines?  I have a pet rock in my top drawer older than that.  Which makes you wonder: what is the legal definition of an antique?

Well, according to US Customs and Border Patrol, an “antique” is an item that is at least 100 years old.  A “collectible” is just about anything that people collect.  The age of a collectible is not important, unless it is labeled “vintage.”  A vintage collectible must be at least 50 years old.  Geez, that’s a little close to home.  Legally, though, it doesn’t matter if something is an antique or not, unless you are trying to sell it as an antique and then you have to be honest about its age.  Rules do not apply to people however, who are under no obligation to say their true age.

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