Is It Fine Art, A Collectible Or An Antique?

Although any item could be placed into one or more of the following groups, there are some general guidelines for placing an item into a category…


 Fine Art – “a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes

                         and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture,

                        drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.” The word “fine” does not so

much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the


Collectible – A collectible is typically a manufactured item designed for people to collect.

In addition, a collectible can be an item made without the intention of

special interest but due to rarity or uniqueness, production fault, human

error, nostaliga, or other events, becomes sought after due to its rarity in

these circumstances.  A collectible does not necessarily have to be valuable

or antique.

Antique – The word antique comes from the Latin word antiquus, meaning old.

Although there are many opinions as to how old an item must be to be

considered on antique, there have been a couple formal attempts in defining

the term. One such attempt was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 which

defined an antique as “works of art, 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.” Another attempt is

made by U.S.Customs and Border Protection defining an antique as “an article

                        over 100 years of age at the time of importation.” These definitions are arguably

only for taxation purposes. In a commercial situation I would suggest that an

antique isa decorative object, piece of furniture, or other work of art created

in an earlier period . There are many things that are old, but simply being old

does not imply that the item is an antique or even valuable.


[1] – Unabridged

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