antique collecting

The Antiques Marketplace

Collectors have ranged widely in their search for items of interest. Frequently the only value a popular object can claim is that of scarcity. Certain objects (e.g., comic books and fruit-crate labels), more properly called curios, have become collector's items by virtue of nostalgic association or content rather than intrinsic value.

Antique dealers acquire not only antiques but also objects that are characteristic of a particular stylistic current (e.g., art nouveau and art deco) that is experiencing a revival of interest. Such objects may be sold or traded at auctions, antique fairs, rummage sales, flea markets, and garage sales. With the tremendous growth of interest in antiques, of necessity a critical expertise in historical styles and construction methods for the care and identification of precious objects has developed. Dealers publish extensive directories to provide a basis for consistent appraisal.

In 1952 the Florence agreement, sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, was drawn up to "facilitate the free flow of educational, scientific, and cultural materials." In 1966 the United States tariff regulations were altered to permit duty-free importation of antiques, defined as objects being more than 100 years old at the time of entry. More than 50 countries now have similar regulations.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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