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Family Heirlooms

Here at Heirloomed, we are deep believers in keeping meaningful items around for another generation to enjoy. I am sharing my expertise on the family heirloom and how to identify, preserve, and cherish your family relics for generations to come.

Family Heirlooms

The most cherished and beloved things one can own cannot be purchased. They must first be used and loved and enjoyed. Memories must be created, laughter had and good times spent. And only then, these things become treasures, passed down for generations to come. The next generation will appreciate this “thing” even more than you do.

Kelsey’s family photographs and jewelry

What is a Family Heirloom?

The definition of a family heirloom is properly defined as a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations. It can range from estate jewelry to furniture to a recipe to a vacation home, but despite how beautiful the item may be, it’s the memories behind the piece that truly make an heirloom something worth keeping around.

Great Aunt Ashley’s Mantle Clock
ashley’s grandmother and her recipe cards

Common Family Heirlooms

Heirlooms can look different for every family. Some families may keep hundreds of items from their parents and grandparents while others may keep one or two to pass down. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common family heirlooms — maybe you will read this and realize you have more keepsakes in your family than you thought you had. I would love to hear if you have any heirlooms in your family that I am missing from these categories as well.

Textiles:

  • quilts
  • table linens
  • aprons
  • baby blankets
  • baby clothes
  • baptism gowns

Tabletop:

  • China + dinnerware
  • glass + barware
  • silver
  • silverware
  • vases
  • candlesticks
  • serving pieces

Memorabilia:

  • letters + postcards
  • certificates (birth, marriage, death, etc.)
  • family photos + albums
  • recipes and cookbooks
  • baby book
  • stories
  • family tree
  • family bible

Kitchenware:

  • cast iron
  • baking pans + tins
  • rolling pins
  • kitchen tools
  • mixing bowls
  • cookware
  • canning jars
  • wooden spoons 

Household items:

  • furniture (bed frames, chairs, dressers, hope chest + trunks)
  • art + frames
  • clocks
  • hardcover books
  • instruments
  • tools

Military:

  • metals
  • dog tags
  • flags
  • weapons + knives
  • trunks
  • photos
  • uniform items

Style:

  • jewelry
  • watches
  • furs
  • purses
  • hats
  • cufflinks
  • brooches
  • letterman jackets

Wedding:

  • photo album
  • engagement + wedding rings
  • bouquet or pressed flowers
  • vows, bible
  • handkerchief
  • wedding dress
  • jewelry
  • veil
  • invitations

Travel:

  • luggage + trunks
  • maps
  • scrapbooks + photos
  • family vacation home
  • mementos + collectibles

Baby and child:

  • lock of hair
  • ultrasound photos
  • baby book
  • firsts (words + foods)
  • newborn photos
  • coming home clothes
  • bronze shoes
  • favorite toys
  • baby blanket
  • baptism gown
  • silver spoon or rattle
  • class photos
  • school work

Collectibles:

  • spoons
  • stamps
  • coins
  • thimbles
  • sports memorabilia – autographs, trading cards
  • classic cars + automobiles

Other:

  • Land
  • family business
  • home
  • stories + folklore
Great Grandmother + Grandfather’s Wedding China
Ashley’s Family ring
Michael’s Grandfather’s fishing reels

Expert Tips for Preserving Family Heirlooms

Things of the past were just created with a different merit than they are today. While they may show hints of tarnish and rust, these items have lasted through time with the high quality craftsmanship they were created with. To preserve these heirlooms even longer, it is important to maintain both their physical integrity and their “story.”

On a larger scope, preserve family heirlooms through maintaining the items’ original state and through the documentation of their origin and meaning. For items such as clocks, watches, and jewelry, repair with the proper craftsmanship of the original pieces. It is important for vintage linens to research the proper spot treatment, laundering, and mending for the pieces you hold onto. Store documents in archival quality papers and ensure they are kept in a dry, climate-controlled space to avoid discoloration and deterioration. For photos, label any known dates, locations, people, and context on a corresponding notecard to get the memories in writing.

Ashley’s family recipe cards

Creating Family Heirlooms

There is a misconception that heirlooms come only from the generations before us. However, we forget there are so many generations to come after us too. I strive to keep the heirlooms of my grandparents alive for my kids through maintaining their quality and passing down their stories and meaning. At the same time, I recognize the importance of buying items of high-quality for my home and family and thoughtfully document the meaningful memories of these items. I have done this through personalizing items with a monogram or engraving, journaling and noting important moments to keep with items, and photographing the special moments we spend together in our home.

Kelsey’s Grandmother’s wedding diamond necklace

Share your Family Heirloom

My passion is to share these family heirlooms and their meaning for another generation to enjoy. I love connecting with people through conversations of their own family heirlooms and the meaning they still hold on the current generation and hope to continue sharing these heirlooms and the stories behind them.

If you have a special family heirloom you would like to share with us for a chance to be featured on the blog, reach out to us at info@heirloomedcollection.com. #Heirloomed


heirloomed is a lifestyle brand with a mission of “keeping heirlooms around for another generation.” Our blog features stories about family recipes, creating traditions with your family, interior design and entertaining by mixing new and vintage pieces, classic style, and small town + historic travel. Our shop features a collection of “goods inspired by the past, for generations to enjoy” with an array of products and meaningful gifts including linen apronstabletop linensartceramics and beyond. Learn more at www.heirloomedcollection.com

I’m an old soul based in Atlanta, GA and mom of 3 with a deep love of all things from the past with a story to tell, on a mission to keep heirlooms around for another generation - whether it be a tradition, splattered family recipe, or historic home.

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