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What becomes a family heirloom

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Treasures handed down generations are what becomes a family heirloom

Treasures handed down generations are what becomes a family heirloom

What items have so much significant value to families that they get passed down generation after generation?

Items as simple as a hand written letter from a great-great-great grandfather sent during the Civil War to grandma’s diamond encrusted wedding ring, can end up being a family heirloom. Each family has it’s own definition of what is priceless to them and what needs to be preserved as a piece of family history. It is each generation’s obligation to hold tight to that piece of memorabilia for future generations to enjoy. 

Family heirlooms have special meanings with an attachment to a particular person or time period in that family’s history. No two family heirlooms are alike which makes each relic a unique piece in it’s own right. So what becomes a family heirloom? Here are a list of six items that have consistently become treasures over the years.

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They range from grandpa’s old farm implements to Aunt Betty’s crystal vase. Some antiques are well cared for and displayed in curio cabinets, but other antiques can be found on the old homestead or grandma’s attic so be careful before tossing out what you perceive as junk. There is always a story and priceless memory in those old relics.


We’ve all seen them … the pearls sitting in grandma’s jewelry box or the diamond band she wore at festivities. Jewelry is by far the most handed down heirloom piece among families. Let’s face it, some pieces of jewelry have been designed to be one-of-a-kind pieces and have immense value. 



Wooden, hand crafted works of art is the only way to describe furniture that has been handed down throughout the generations. They can be a turn of the century rocking chair, a cedar lined armoire, or grandma’s dining room hutch that held her fine china that came out only on holidays. Well-crafted and built to last through the decades, these fine pieces earn heirloom status.

Wedding dress

Silks, satins, lace and velvets are all among the finest of material that would make a wedding dress an heirloom to pass down to a daughter or granddaughter. Designed for only one purpose in mind as a celebration of marriage and love, an heirloom quality wedding dress is a lasting reminder of mom and dad’s big day.


More than just a baby blanket, quilts are a tradition of neighbors getting together to create bedding that was not only warm, but were actually works of art. Hand sewn, piece-by-piece, these decorative items displayed the finest of needlework.  

Framed family paintings/portraits

Portraits or paintings of ancestors are quickly becoming a lost art. These painted portraits are usually displayed in decorative, scrolled frames and bring to life an intimate sensuousness that some of today’s instant photography can not capture. These paintings took days to complete and seem to depict the spirit and essence of ancestors that came before.

Many more items can be classified as heirlooms. Each family is unique in what items are cherished and held in the family year after year. Most have sentimental value, some have monetary value, but all are treasures not to be parted with.


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