Family keepsakes are priceless treasures that remind you of specific memories meant to be cherished by generations.
It may not necessarily carry a monetary value, as sentimental attachment plays a bigger role. However, some family heirlooms have high market prices owing to their historical relevance and rarity. Nevertheless, these are usually passed down by ancestors and speak volumes about a time long gone.
So, if you’re interested in these memorabilia and want to know about all the different types, you have arrived at the right place. In this guide, we have put together a list of different family keepsakes that are handed down to keep alive the stories from the past.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
Different Types Of Family Keepsakes
1. Photo Albums
In the day and age of smartphones and DSLR cameras, nothing beats the nostalgia and charm of old, physical photographs. A picture is truly worth a thousand words, especially when they capture a time that you didn’t witness.
So, whether it’s marriage photos, childhood snaps, pictures taken while travelling or any other particular event, these photos are etched with memories of a happier time. Hence, photobooks are meaningful keepsakes that transcend time and distance barriers, allowing you to relish glimpses from the past.
Also, these photobooks from earlier usually have a vintage leather design, which is hard to come across now. If you preserve them properly, you can digitally back up the photos and create collages and save them online for posterity.
Family jewellery is of immense value, as it reminds the current owner of the previous wearer. It can be anything from engagement rings, old necklaces, bracelets, cuff links etc. Also, it could fetch a hefty sum if it features rare, precious stones or traditional craftsmanship.
Souvenirs are mandatory purchases during vacations and trips. Some of us even have a dedicated closet or cabinet to display tokens from the different places we’ve visited. It could be anything from decor items and flags to fridge magnets and paperweights.
This paraphernalia is reminiscent of the time you spend exploring different locations with family, friends or even alone. Souvenirs are important keepsakes as they are very personal and trace a person’s journey to different places. Also, some of them are limited edition pieces, so you might want to safely keep them for later.
4. Cutlery And Dishes
Antique dish sets and cutlery are among those family heirlooms that are deeply treasured and cherished. They do not necessarily have to be bone china or premium-quality glass but can be regular plates and bowls from a different time.
Many people have dishes and cutlery with their parents’ or grandparents’ names engraved. It’s a genuinely thoughtful gesture to display them and relive the days when they were actually used. Also, some rare designer pieces and sets or autographed items could make you a fortune presently.
In the era of text messages and DMs, handwritten letters carry a deeper significance, showing thoughtfulness behind the whole gesture. In fact, many preserve letters and postcards shared between their parents or other relatives during uncertain times like wars.
This old-fashioned way still manages to kindle nostalgia and reminds you of simpler times when communication was delayed and intermittent. Besides, it can be any type of exchange, such as birthday messages, congratulatory notes, or communication with a pen friend.
These old letters not only convey the expressions of the writer but also offer a glimpse into the situation existing then.
6. Diaries And Scrapbooks
Diaries and scrapbooks are very personal pieces which are usually handed down when the person they belonged to passes away. Hence, it’s important to carefully preserve these pages where they have poured their heart out.
You get to know them more intimately when you see things from the writer’s perspective. Besides, it tells you about the type of person they were and what events significantly impacted their lives. Also, in the case of scrapbooks, you get to know about their collecting habits and preferences.
7. Wedding Dress And Vintage Clothes
Wedding dresses are usually passed down from mothers to daughters, and in fact, many women choose to wear them on their own special day. Other than that, any old clothing material which reflects fashion from a different era is a valuable keepsake for many.
So, if you enjoy collecting retro pieces, you might want to dig into the wardrobe of an older relative to find some rare, vintage garments. Also, if the clothes belong to someone special who you have lost, you can even turn them into pillowcases or a frame to remember them after.
Nothing screams nostalgia like an old grandfather clock from a different century. Those giant models are hard to come by these days and if you have been passed down one, make sure to keep it ticking. These truly deserve a special place on the wall and are a unique testament to the times gone by.
However, timepieces also include antique pocket and wristwatches, worn by several people before reaching the current owner.
This category can include anything from an antique four-poster bed, a giant, majestic wardrobe to a rocking chair. The best part about these tradition pieces is that they need minimal maintenance and hence, can last through generations. However, some of these items are sophisticated, so you might want to store them safely.
10. Books And Magazines
Books are truly a man’s (and woman’s) best friend, especially when they’re handed down. These are significant heirlooms as some of the old publications may not exist anymore. Also, some books are collector editions, meaning they can have a resale value of thousands of dollars.
The same goes for magazines, especially those popular in a different decade and discontinued later.
People were big into posters throughout the mid and end of the 19th century. In fact, if you own a hand-painted one, count yourself lucky because those unique pieces have travelled through time. So, whether it’s a poster of a classical Hollywood movie or that of a pop singer or athlete in the 80’s, it sure has deep sentimental value.
12. Dolls And Toys
Toy collecting is a serious hobby, and many have made fortunes by auctioning off their limited edition pieces. That said, it includes everything from dolls, fire trucks, toy guns, dollhouses, action figures, etc. Other than that, any form of board games and cards too can fetch a considerable value if they’re deemed exclusive.
13. Musical Instruments
Musical instruments, too are intimate pieces that say a lot about their previous owners. This category includes different types of instruments – percussion, string, keyboard, etc. They may even carry the first player’s signature or initials, which remind you of its journey down different hands.
14. Quilts And Embroidered Linen
In the 19th century, quilts were handcrafted by women, and some even carried the family crest. These took hours of meticulous work and boast superior knitting designs, which deserve to be displayed. So, whether you want to use them to warm the bed or showcase on a stand, these unique pieces will surely attract a lot of attention.
Also, in the case of embroidered linen, things like handkerchiefs, shawls, scarfs, socks, pillowcases, tablecloths, etc., remind you of needle art from a previous era.
Weapons are one of those rare heirlooms that can fetch an enormous value, depending on the period of use and level of sophistication. It includes heavy guns, hunting rifles, knives, swords, bow and arrows, crossbows, etc.
These unique items truly deserve a special place on the wall, as they carry a deep historical significance based on the purpose of use.
16. Recipe Books
If your grandmother or great grandmother kept a recipe book to record different culinary styles and dishes, it should be preserved at all costs. After all, it tells you about traditional cooking techniques and dishes which may have undergone massive changes as of now.
In fact, several dishes have drifted far away from the original recipes, so you might want to keep this book handy to explore authentic cooking. Also, these books may contain instructions and hacks, which tell you how to make things taste better.
That’s all from us!
We hope you enjoyed reading about the different types of family keepsakes handed down across generations. However, family heirlooms are not limited to these above 16 items, since almost anything can carry a historical and sentimental value.
It can even be something as ordinary as a flower vase, newspaper clipping, comic book, etc. That said, what’s valuable for someone may not carry the same meaning for another person.
So, it all depends on individual perception, and as such, anything passed down the family tree can be considered a keepsake. On that note, we’d like to sign off.
Till next time!