Heirlooms today have a much different meaning for many genealogists. Heirlooms seem to signify items that are rare and valuable. Well, most of those end up in museums!
Family historians treasure items that might more properly be described as mementos – dishes, books, photos and maybe even a piece of furniture or clothing that were owned by one or more ancestors. The majority of these family treasures aren’t valuable and they are only rare in the sense that a particular item was owned by someone in their family.
Many baby items don’t make it to the heirloom stage because (1) a baby wears them our or (2) several babies wear them out.
I’m the caretaker of three baby cups and two of them aren’t very old, but perhaps one day they will be considered heirlooms.
The first cup belonged to my grandfather’s cousin, Charles Adams Chadwick. Charles was born 20 January 1923 in Calais, Washington, Maine, home to several generations of my Adams family. His mother, Pearl, was the daughter of my 2X great grandparents, Calvin Segee Adams and Nellie F. Tarbox, always known as Nammie.
Charles Adams Chadwick, probably First Birthday
Charles was given Adams as his middle name to honor his mother’s family. He was an only child and, although he was much loved, I never had the impression that he was spoiled. His father died when Charles was just ten years old so life for Pearl and Charles wasn’t terribly easy.
Charles’s Baby Cup
I don’t know for sure, but suspect that Pearl’s mother, Nammie, might have given this cup to Charles. It’s monogrammed with his initials and does show signs of wear.
Charles’s cup isn’t sterling silver, but instead looks to be made from two types of metal. The outer cup is very dark (that’s not tarnish), while the inside is a much lighter metal that resembles silver plate with a bit of pitting.The cup is also quite heavy – at least twice the weight of the other two cups in my family collection.
Linda Anne Sabo, c1952
The second cup was my own baby cup and I’m embarrassed to say I never asked who gave it to me. I highly doubt that my parents would have bought a sterling silver cup for a baby, no matter how loved she was! My guess would be my paternal grandmother, Julia Scerbak Sabo. She lived upstairs from us in a two-family house and I was her first grandchild.
Linda’s Baby Cup
My cup is also monogrammed with my initials – L.A.S. – and, from the looks of it, my cup got a lot of use. The sides and top are intact, but the bottom has a lot of dents!
I don’t know whether the dents appeared as I banged the cup on my high chair tray or whether flinging the cup to the floor had anything to do with creating them. Probably a combination!
Michael David Stufflebean
The last baby cup, also sterling, belongs to my son, Michael David Stufflebean.
Dave and I purchased this cup because I decided that we had to follow the family tradition of baby cups. Of course, it had to be monogrammed to match the other two, so M.D.S. is engraved on the side.
Michael occasionally used this cup, but it doesn’t show much wear. That’s probably because our family room was carpeted and I place a large plastic mat under his high chair.
Whenever the cup went flying, it hit the plastic with soft carpet underneath!
As far as I know my dad never had a baby cup, although he was an only child and a bit spoiled. My mother was one of three children and neither she nor her siblings had baby cups that have survived.
I don’t think that metal baby cups were something to be treasured and kept in earlier generations.
Do you have any baby cups in your collection?