Confiscation of antique still makes no sense

Recently the State of Indiana took from me a valuable historic artifact under threat of criminal prosecution — a handmade copper still dating at least to prohibition or beyond.

I purchased it for $250 at public auction two years ago and have displayed it at the Covered Bridge Festival, M&J Mall, and most recently at Vendor’s Village for several months. However, two Indiana excise officers gave me little choice but to surrender it.

Aside from the loss of investment on my part, this represents a loss of a piece of Terre Haute history. I would much rather have donated it with proper provenance to the new historical museum, but the officers told me this was impossible and promised me a “criminal citation” if I failed to voluntarily surrender the five pieces of 100-year-old copper.

They said they were acting on a complaint from the public.

This incident raises questions in my mind: First, what motivated some pinheaded member of the public to voice a complaint, when it was not likely to be put into operation? (You can buy a new stainless steel one off the internet.)

Much more importantly, what is to become of it? Will it be destroyed by some judge’s order, as they indicated, or will it end up in some good ol’ boy’s man cave? If it was a crime to own it, why was I not given a criminal charge as promised should I not hand it over?

I have made calls to both the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commissioner, who transferred me to the local office, who referred me back to the original officer as to where this piece is now, but so far have no answer to my questions.

It is a sad and a bit alarming state of affairs that I can own an assault rifle, even though it was once illegal to own a machine gun, and teenagers can ruin their health in public puffing on a vape machine (also controlled by the same department).

Perhaps I should call the excise police every time I see an underaged person in possession of vape paraphernalia.

— Richard Evans, DBA R&T Collectibles

Terre Haute 


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