Family heirlooms

As so often happens, once I have proposed a weekend theme, my ability to put the simplest post together for it flees to Outer Mongolia, or maybe to the Arctic Circle.

However I had time, while shopping for numerous birthday presents and one wedding present, to think about the things handed down in our family.

I have a few, a teaspoon with my great aunt’s name engraved on the back. Oh how I had hoped for the matching serving spoons, but they, alas, were lost along the way.


A brass spirit level from my father’s fore bearers, as well as  some woodworking tools from the same era. I am never quite sure what to do with them.


A Chinese kist or box from my great aunt. I remembered it as quite large, but when my father brought it to me it is well below knee height. Childhood proportions differ from adult ones, and i had sat on it often, admiring it as a child. When I drink lime juice and see it, I remember sitting in her room, on the kist, listening politely and answering embarrassing questions as she and her friends ( who all lived in the same boarding house ) had their evening drink together.

I have a carriage clock from the same source, but it came via my aunt who inherited it from her aunt. I remember it being in both of their homes.


I wonder if anything of mine will continue in the family? If anything does, I hope it is my tea pot. Sleek clean lines of Danish stainless steel.

The things we want after someone dies or is getting rid of when downscaling their lives, each wants something different, usually from specific happy memories. I wonder what their memories will be…

25 thoughts on “Family heirlooms

  1. Some lovely items. I took a look at the carriage clock and gave a yelp of alarm. Fortunately I then tracked ours down lurking in the back of a display cabinet. It looks just the same.

  2. Oh yes and I love the spirit level – really beautiful. By coincidence I was told earlier today that I could get a spirit level app on my iphone. NOT the same at all – even if it would mean I had it with me should I happen to want one

  3. That spirit level would end up in my showcase, next to the ancient tin opener and nut cracker – just love those old things.
    have quite a few old tools from my father too.
    Good collection Sidey.
    As for the memories people see in your stuff – I dunno of anybody sees any memories in my old things. They’re just dust gatherers for other people I suppose.

  4. Herilooms, things and the value we attach to them are more a product of our emotions and our memories (not stating anything new here) but when I try to think of the things I think my son or my grandchildren would want when I’m gone it’s hard to ponder. What I think they’ll want is probably not even close to what they will covet.

  5. Beautiful 😉

    My father in law also had a carriage clock similar to that one at one time.

    Once again a great challenge, which got us searching, dusting off, photographing, recording and remembering.

  6. Your father’s Spirit Level, just something in the name of the instrument that seems fitting to give or leave someone. After all it is the inherent memories that often define us is what gives an heirloom importance, I suppose the object itself could be as simple as an HB pencil. Depends on context. I remember my brother wanting a couple fishing lures of our fatherss (he’s still alive but has dementia). I thought odd, considering my fathers inaptness at fishing. To my brother that was fond fun memory and the lures were important to him. I made sure he got them his next trip home..

    What will their memories be? -A question I have never considered. SCARY. When I think about, I wonder if anyone will even want my ‘shtufffs’. Kinda gives one incentive to be a good person. I have a few items which fall under ‘found’ heirlooms. But if anyone has hopes of attaining them, disappoint awaits, as one perhaps two I plan on burying in another country all together -give some future young anthropologist thesis paper.

    1. I think the spirit level is very old, the woodworkers in the family go back for five ir six generations in this country. It must xarry a lot of memories.

      I remember so loving the spoon as a child. It is tiny and very beautiful.

      We should all be burying non rusting tins with weird things in to confuse the future

      1. If that Spirit Level goes back that far, I can only imagine the sense of pride that went along with it each time it was passed along the line. That in itself speaks volumes of where it is you came from. Quite special.

        My mother has such a spoon. it was her mother’s, before that my grandmother’s mother. My mother is cool as a cucumber, but you can see the sparkle from that spoon in her eyes when she brings it out -she just glows. Am sure my sister will feel the same way.

        As for burying to confuse the future -its fun to be a subversive at times

        1. The family arrived from Norway and moved into the forest at Knysna and set up (with other Norwegian families) a sawmill.

          I am one of those with sawdust in their veins 😉

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