Quantifying the value of family heirlooms is difficult if not impossible to do. Since they’re virtually irreplaceable, most families go to extraordinary lengths to protect them from loss or damage. While heirlooms can take many forms, certain items are more likely to fit the bill than others. If you’re interested in starting a family heirloom tradition, here are four items that are often passed down through the generations.
One of the most common categories of heirlooms you’ll encounter is furniture. Everything from cedar hope chests to Shaker chairs are potential candidates for heirloom status. If a piece of furniture is going to go the distance, it must be constructed from the finest pieces of wood by expert artisans. Mass-produced items from collections simply don’t have the same cachet as unique individual pieces with character.
Yet another heirloom favorite is vintage photographs. While photography in general has become overwhelmingly digital in recent years, many still prefer physical copies of photos to preserve memories, but antique photos can be tricky to preserve. Keep your existing heirloom photos from yesteryear in glass-topped frames to prevent damage. Be sure to have photos of current family members, friends and colleagues printed on glossy paper to preserve color and details for years to come. Also recognize the potential for sun damage and consider UV-resistant glass.
Anything made from precious metals like gold or silver can become a treasured heirloom given enough time. Silver items like watches and jewelry require special attention to remain in pristine condition due to silver’s propensity for tarnishing. If you need to clean or repair any expensive heirloom items, be sure to patronize a business that employs established, experienced jewelry and watch repair experts.
For many reasons, musical instruments make for the perfect heirlooms. For one, they boast an aesthetic beauty that’s difficult to beat. Furthermore, they have use in and of themselves if you or anyone in your family can play them. Lastly, musical instruments can actually mature in value if they’re carefully maintained. Consequently, they’re a sound investment that can deliver a massive payoff to your descendants.
Keeping It in the Family
Obviously, you’ll want to take special precautions to keep your heirlooms in mint condition. Wood items should be regularly dusted, polished and checked for termites. Security is another major issue. Smaller, more portable items such as jewelry need to be kept in a safe. With a minimal investment in maintenance and security, your heirlooms will be around for many generations to come.