Category Archives: Heirlooms

Baby Cup Heirlooms

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.


Michael’s Cup

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?

Holidays and Family Heirlooms

The holiday season brings both new family memories and, often, a nostalgic look back at past Christmases. I have wonderful memories of all those times long past and of the people with whom I shared them. I still can’t believe that, with the exception of my aunt and uncle, I am part of the senior generation of my family!

Being the keeper of the family history, I’ve been fortunate enough to also be the keeper of some family heirlooms. Most aren’t terribly old, nor are they museum-type pieces, but they have huge sentimental value.

I’ve written in the past about a set of china I inherited that originally belonged to my great grandmother’s sister, Melissa Stewart Findlay. When she passed away in 1913, my great grandmother, Annie Stewart Adams, inherited it. Next came Grandmother, Hazel Coleman Adams, who became the caretaker in 1940 when Annie passed and it then came into my possession in 1995 when we lost Grandmother.


Soup Tureen

The china set only comes out once a year, either on Thanksgiving or Christmas when it’s our turn to host the family. However, I have three other items that complement the formal dinner service.

I also inherited a candelabra, an ornate salt and pepper shaker set and a simple teapot and creamer, all from Grandmother.

I actually have one photo from the 1960s of Grandmother’s dining room and, if you look at the left side in the back, you can see the teapot in its place of honor. It almost looks like part of the wallpaper, but it is on the buffet table against the back wall, to the left of the mirror, between the third candle in the left candelabra and the flower centerpiece.:


Grandmother’s Table, c1960s

For the last few years, I’ve gotten very lazy about holiday meals and haven’t even taken out the china. It seems so much easier to use everyday dinnerware.

However, the pattern is beautiful and Grandmother’s salt-and-pepper, candelabra and teapot deserve to be admired at least once every year.

This year, we are hosting Christmas dinner and I’m in the mood for a bit of nostalgia, as I remember Grandmother proudly using all of these items.


Grandmother’s Christmas Mantle

In spite of the extra work using these heirlooms causes – especially handling the china set, which is now over 120 years old – I think I’ll be serving Christmas dinner 2018  with these items. Grandmother would be pleased knowing the family is continuing to enjoy her treasures.

 

Family Heirloom: Baby’s Silverware Set

A friend of mine has been sharing a lot of photos of her new grandson lately. It got me to thinking about some of the baby items that have been in my family.

I still have my own silver baby cup and spoon, but I also have the while little baby silverware set that my husband used to eat his first bites of food.

This is the cutest little set that was actually used, as there is light wear on the utensils.

This set was made by Rogers Brothers, patented in 1847, and called the Step Up Set for Children. In case the new mother wasn’t sure what utensil to use when, they are grouped. To the left, we have the spoon to use to feed the baby. The next spoon and fork are for when baby was ready to feed himself. The third set on the right was for a young child.

My mother-in-law carefully kept this set intact. Notice the little gift tag at the top left? That is the original tiny card that came from Grand Aunt Myrtle and her daughters.

Even the paper explanation from Rogers Bros. has survived with the set! The plastic cover is well scuffed up, but it has done its job protecting the contents.

This little set became a two-generation gift when I used it with our son.

Do you have any heirloom baby sets in your family?