Keeping Heirlooms in the Family


rachelWhether a collection has been passed down through the family or collected through personal hunting, collectors often hope their treasures will stay in the family. Objects can be emotionally charged and conjure memories of ancestors, family history, or tremendous buying trips. Collectors’ children often don’t view the objects in the same light and may want or need to sell them.

Sifting through estates can be overwhelming for descendants. Typically there is no way to keep everything of value. Some children don’t want items because they don’t have a vested interest in them. Perhaps the artifacts aren’t the child’s style, or he doesn’t know the family stories that accompany them. This can be avoided by telling the stories and engaging children in using antiques. Families have traditions, rituals, holidays, etc. that define who they are and what they value. Inherited antiques can be included in these special occasions. Children who grow up learning about family heirlooms will want to continue the tradition of passing them to the next generation. Collecting can be a family endeavor as well. Children and parents can learn about the history and care of artifacts together. They can enjoy traveling together to pursue their hobby. Children who are invested in the collection will know the provenance and value of the items. That puts them in a better position should they need to sell the items when they grow up.

Economic reasons can be a powerful hindrance to keeping antiques in the family. Sometimes collectors need to sell their collections to pay bills, or executors of estates must sell items in order to settle estates. There are a couple of creative things that can be done so that heirlooms stay in the family and bills are paid. Consider having a family tag sale or family auction. For the tag sale, items may be priced by a third party or by the collector/executor. Family members are invited to attend the sale and purchase items at a fixed price. In the event that two people want to purchase the same item, rules can be set up. Purchases may be first come, first served; straws can be drawn to settle a tie; or family members may draw numbers in order to create a system of choosing items in turn. After everyone with a number has been through the first round, the second round begins until everyone has had a chance to purchase items they are interested in or all the items are purchased.

With some planning and creativity, it is possible to keep heirlooms in the family. Above all include children in the history and hobby of collecting so that they value the artifacts that have meaning for your family.

Rachel Glenn is part owner of Rachel’s Attic Antiques and Collectibles in Dandridge, Tennessee and has been dealing in antiques and collectibles for eleven years and selling online for eight years.

Source: Rachel Glenn