Keepsakes Worth Keeping

You may love your great-grandma’s 100 hundred-year-old set of Limoges China, but don’t plan on retiring on it. This dishy bit of information was shared by antiques appraiser Mark Metts of My Nanna’s Estate Sales, who I recently met at a Jewish Pavilion “Antiques Roadshow Style” luncheon. Metts shared that the bottom fell out of the antique’s market with the recent recession, and does not appear to have a silver lining (However, he did share that silver is one of the few items that has retained its value).

Instead of china, estate sale shoppers became interested in more practical, usable items like bargain priced lightly used, every-day tableware. So where does the value lie in our old keepsakes and heirlooms? Metts explains that the real value is in the memory. He noted, “Love, treasure, and USE your keepsakes, for most, the true value is the story of the loved one that passed it on.”

At the same luncheon, Sandi Saft (1st photo) learned that her grandmother’s elegant handkerchief side table (named for foldable corners) that was also over 100 years-old, had lost a good deal of its financial value over the last several years. Saft was undaunted by the pricing information. For her, the value was in the remembrance of her grandmother as an elegant lady who made every occasion special, with a place and use for everything. Metts pointed out the table’s beautiful craftsmanship, and the functioning moving parts that worked perfectly, built from a time when things were built to last.

So back to the china (2nd photo, with the lovely Dottie and Elise)…when I was a little girl, my mother displayed her grandmother’s tea set on a coffee table along with these small doll-sized cups that I later learned were called ‘demitasse’ (French for ½ cup) that were meant for espresso. I was very attracted to these pretty child-sized cups, but I was told they were very old, and too delicate for little hands. My mother stepped up to the plate, sharing that one day this set would belong to me, because I could see its true value.

Slowly, one by one, each cup came into my possession, and later when my mother suddenly needed medical care and assistive living, the whole set became mine in one fell swoop (My china cup runneth over!). I spent quite a bit mailing the china across the country to my home in Orlando from the Chicago area UPS store, where they packed and shipped the fragile century-old plates in bubble wrap and shipping peanuts tightly enough to last into the next century. After visiting EBay, I can share that I spent more shipping the china than it is worth on the open market. However, I can still remember oohing and ahhing over these pretty dishes throughout my life, and I look forward to passing each cup and plate down to my own daughter.

According to Sharon Germaine, also of My Nanna’s Estate Sales, each year 66,000 Americans downsize as they grow older. With each estate sale and online auction listing, more vintage and antique objects are available at the click of a button. Not only are values lower, but interest level is lower, too. Germaine shares, “Love and use your objects, because the next generation probably doesn’t want them.”

As much as I love the china, two years after receipt, it is still neatly packed in the original UPS box. This year, I plan on using at least part of the set for the next big holiday. If not, I have promised my husband that this heirloom will be sent packing, once again. To make sure I keep my word, I have already started unwrapping this box of memories stemming all the way back from my great-grandmother. It is too much of a treasure to Pass-over.

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