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Throughout Indian lands the trading posts serve as pawn shops. When Native Americans need money, they can pawn or sell the artwork and jewelry they have made or collected. This is one of the ways older vintage jewelry and artwork comes onto the market. In some cases the items are pawned: traded for a small loan and kept on hold with intent to redeem the items later when the loan is repaid. If the loan goes unpaid for the contractual length of time, the items are considered "dead pawn", also known as "old pawn", and can be sold by the trader as payment for the loan. Sometimes the term "Old Pawn" is given to vintage or antique Native American items that have been acquired from long time owners or from personal collections. Any Native American jewelry may be give this name if it is tarnished or worn, although it did not come from a pawn shop or reservation trading post. The item may not even be very old, but overall the term means that the item is authentic and pre-owned.

Referring to an item as Antique usually means that it meets a certain age requirement. According to the US customs office, anything 100 years old or older is officially antique. But the true definition of Antique involves the concept of times past. If an item is considered to be from a different era or time period in human society, and is also fairly rare, then it may gain antique status without being 100 years old. Many web sires makes a distinction for antiques at 1930 and before, which is not quite 100 years. Many now see World War II as the distinction where items from that era are grouped together in the WWII era category and anything older is officially antique.

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