Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Antiques and Heirlooms

As young as I can remember, my mother and father instilled upon me the value of family heirlooms and antiques. Maybe it’s because we didn’t have much when I was growing up in the 70’s and therefore, whatever heirlooms and antiques that my parents had, they held dear to their hearts. As an adult, I now cherish the heirlooms that are from my grandparents, mother, and father.

I remember my Nana giving me 2 very worn British pennies from the early 1900’s. I held onto them as if they were gold and still have them. She also gave me a metal heart hanging from worn piece of purple yarn. I do not remember the significance of it to her, but to me, as it was my Nana’s, I will keep it in my cufflink box forever. The same concept goes with my Grandpop’s encyclopedia set from the 1930’s. I may not seek out up to date knowledge from them but just knowing that for decades, they were in my Grandpop’s den, and then his office, and now on my bedroom shelf, makes them an heirloom set, at least to me. I remember sitting on his cold wooden parquet office floor looking through them with the eyes of a 6 year old.

My mother and father had an extensive collection of antiques, modern art, and bric-a-brac. With Mom’s keen sense if decorating, it all worked. From each family trip and vacation that we went on, one or two items were carefully selected and bought for the Wenonah house. Of course we picked up the touristy postcards, but these other items, which were hung in the living room or were placed in the dining room hutch, brought back memories of the trip in which they were acquired. I look at a particular ceramic tile tray from Mexico and although it was bought in the 1970’s by my parents, this has now become a family heirloom, reflecting happy times of a newlywed couple's trip to Mexico.

I often buy antiques on my travels for my own various collections. My family knows that when I come out to see them in San Diego or Arcata, California, or even back to my second hometown of Philly, I hit the various antique shops and flea markets looking for treasures. I used to collect Art Deco ashtrays until I reached about 50 of them and thought to myself, “OK, now what?” I sold off some, gave away others, but kept about a half dozen special ones. I am now also collecting Art Deco chromeware, Art Nouveau antiquities, Asian antiquities, modern art, transferware, vintage barware, old photographs, small oil paintings, and pretty much anything else that catches my eye. I am starting a collection of antique glassware, specifically from the last 1700’s to early 1800’s. They are used only for very special occasions and I have yet to have one of those occasions!

The difference between the items that I collect and the family heirlooms that I have kept is that I continue to buy, sell, trade, and gift away my collections once I tire of them. I don't mind moving the items on as I know others will eventually enjoy them as much as I did. The heirlooms are cherished and precious to my heart and soul. They will never be given away, except to my sister, brother, or cousins. A simple 1970’s cracker jar with a garishly patterned top will be kept longer than a flea market-bought Art Deco cocktail shaker. I may not display that cracker jar, but it came from my mother and reminds me of my childhood in Wenonah, NJ. It is carefully wrapped up and kept away for me to look at, perhaps while spending a rainy day reminiscing.

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