is for Handmade, Hand-me-down, Heirlooms in the A to Z of Tools for Legacy
Lumpers and splitters are very different types of people. Some people want to group things together, some want to create subgroups with larger groups or topics. It is really about similarity and difference. This is a great tool for helping to determine authenticity, meaning, and value of all the things you have collected over the decades when you relocate, downsize, or just pragmatically pare down possessions.
I use the terms handmade, hand-me-down, and heirloom to make parsing items a bit easier than using authenticity, meaning, and value that can seem rather alien when talking about possessions that have accompanied you and provided context for you through significant parts of your life.
If something is handmade, or you know who crafted the item, when it was made, or where it was made, document what you know, and how you know it.
For example: Great Uncle Carl collected these paintings in England during WWII. They are water colors painted by a person far more famous for his writing. They were given to him by a Swiss friend he met in London who was a friend of the artist.
Provenance is the personal history, or story, of an item. This helps in authentication of items. Materials used in item can also help validate its time period. Bakelite jewelry was manufactured from around 1920 through the 1940s. Silk was needed for parachutes so it was rare in fashion during the early 1940s.
Knowing the path of ownership and how something came to be yours, who owned it before you, and how that person came to have it, provides a personal context that can be interwoven with other stories of the life of that person.
A wall hanging may have little significance to most people, but having a hand-stitched hanging that your grandmother gave to your mother who in turn gave it to you can be considered a treasure. Something that is handed down generation to generation can be very meaningful to members of a family simply by virtue of having been touched by those you loved and those they loved.
Items can be thought of as important simply by who handled the item. Signs of wear that might take away monetary value can add personal value.
A silver tea service made in Colonial America by Paul Revere has signifiant monetary value. Items made of high value materials are often accorded status as a family heirloom. Status is often transferred with the object. Eldest sons often inherit such items along with the status of family patriarch.
Assessment of these traits will often clarify whether something should be preserved, to whom it could be meaningful, and whether documentation needs to travel with the object. It is also good to remember that these aspects may be attributed by others to items you own and to which you have no special attachment.
A cookie jar from J.C Penney may be special to someone simply because it sat on your table when she was small.
Noting what you attribute to each category mentioned above for individual items as well as what others attribute may help you decide how to handle specific items for storage, giving, and sale.
Letter Legacy of Handmade, Hand-me-down, Heirlooms Tools for Legacy projects