I was set up at an antiques show recently. A lady, just slightly my senior, came in my booth with some pre-teen children. She was very drawn to our small display of old medicine tins. She was trying her best to drag the kids down "memory lane" along with her and they were simply not willing to go. She gave up finally, and just walked away. Even though that was a NO SALE for me, I felt bad for her. I got the feeling she was trying to instill a sense of history (and the value of it) to the kids but they couldn't relate. They had never heard of these products and just could not "compute" the concept of tin packaging.
At another show a couple of... ahem... seasoned citizens were browsing (Read: picking up and slightly rearranging every single thing...grr) in our booth for a good 15 minutes. Finally she says to he, "I don't know, these dealers mix in brand new stuff with the old stuff and it shouldn't be that way". It goes against my nature to challenge a customer's opinion but I am not beyond defending my reputation especially when this show has a pre-1949 rule. When pressed to point out the "brand new" merchandise her position was, since she had owned, or could recollect her mother owning, about one third of the stuff in my booth it didn't qualify as an "antique". I asked her to please report her opinion to the show management, and she did. We had a good laugh afterwards.
So how old does an ANTIQUE need to be?
When I first got this "sickness" an antique had to be MINIMUM 200 years old. How many of us can certify that the majority of our stock is 200 years old? I'll bet not many... certainly not me.
I'm not sure when things changed. It seems to me that somewhere around the bicentennial (1976) I became aware that 100 years old was now considered antique. Since I was a collector, and not a dealer, at that time the change had little bearing on my interest or pocketbook. (Why do we say that? I don't carry a pocketbook! I have a wallet.) Okay, I can safely say that most of my (furniture) stock is 100 years old. Some is even circa U. S. Civil War which is well after the industrial revolution and mostly factory made.
Fast forward to about 1990-95 suddenly "antique" meant 60 years. Seems odd that in just about 50 years antiques lost 140 years. At any rate, when well known experts such as Harry Rinker ( www.harryrinker.com ) and Terry Kovel ( www.kovels.com ) endorse the 60 year mark, who am I to protest? If everyone is okay with 60 years, I am too.
Things will have gone full circle when the kids, who couldn't care less about the medicine tins, try to get their kids to look at an "old" Harry Potter plastic lunch box, won't they?