Category Archives: Heirlooms

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?

Family Heirloom: Nipper Shakers

My mother-in-law, Ruby, was a collector and a keeper. Boy, did she save things, but that is another story. I have to admit, though, that hands down, the cutest item we inherited from her was this salt and pepper shaker set:

Nipper the Dog Salt and Pepper Set

I asked Ruby once what these were and she said they were the ceramic salt and pepper shakers that featured the RCA Victor dog, Nipper. I didn’t think to ask if she or Dave’s grandmother had bought these or if they were the one of thousands of estate and yard sale items that she scooped up.

I did check the bottoms of the shakers for a mark and, sure enough, it was there:

Radio Corp. of America

They were made by RCA or by the company’s formal name – Radio Corporation of America.

This set is in perfect condition. Each shaker is 3 1/2 inches high. There isn’t even a tiny chip to be found on either shaker and there is only very slight crazing, which is normal, down the front of the dogs’ chests and the glaze is shiny and new. The original cork plus are intact, too. I don’t think this set was ever even used.

How much are they worth? Well, value is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I’d say maybe $10 for the set. EBay has 30 listings, from $8.95 to $89.00 (wishful thinking on that seller’s part!), including a mint set in the original box for $52.16, on sale! Sold listings show they went for roughly a $10 average. It also looks like there are some reproductions out there. I don’t know if this set is in that category or not.  However, I am not looking to sell because they are just too cute!