Connecting to the past through treasured keepsakes

Laurie Snider
Notes from the Nest 

When it comes to items from days gone by, I’m a bit of a softie — a character trait passed down in my family, through generations. Certain cherished objects moved down the line from great- grandparents, grandparents, parents, to me have value measured in sentiment, if not in actual dollars.

An old family Bible, a depression glass, blue plate, china teacups and some crockery are just a few of the treasured pieces that hold places of honour in our home.

My mom tells me, that a snake plant she gave me is probably 100 years old, as it once belonged to her grandmother. I’m pleased to report, it’s green, tall and still going strong!

As a child, when I’d sit down for dinner with my parents and siblings, mom would place a small pink- and-cream striped pitcher of milk on the table. At the time, milk was purchased in gallon containers and our allotment for meals needed to be transferred to a smaller, more suitable vessel for pouring.

That little carafe is a warm reminder of lively conversation, love and laughter, as our family gathered together, to share a meal and the details of our days. This is why several years ago, when I spied a similar blue and white striped jug in an antique store, it called out to me, connecting me to my past, like a ribbon to my heart.

Chef ware, as I have now come to know this particular pattern of china, is now a revered collection of mine. I have several pieces that have been given to me, as gifts by my mother and a few I’ve been lucky enough to snap up, at flea markets and sales. While trekking around the Odessa antique show on the weekend with my mom, I gleefully discovered a yellow- and-white striped one, especially wonderful due to its unique colour.

The thrill of the hunt for prized collectibles is what makes antiquing such fun. The strings to our hearts usually play a part, in what we see as valuable or see value in. Perhaps creaky old chairs, vintage tools, well-worn quilts, fiesta ware or milk glass are your thing? The good news is it’s out there somewhere. You may just have to wade through rusty relics, attend auctions, flea markets or garage sales to find it! But you will… eventually!

Technically, to be qualified as an antique, something must be 100 years or older, although the term is frequently used for any objects that are old. The sought after desirables are usually being pursued because of their age, beauty, personal emotional connection or rarity. These admired novelties represent bygone eras; periods in human history where things were done differently. Its hard not to be fascinated by past history, our own families, as well as others.

The most expensive antique ever sold was a Pinner Qing Dynasty vase, that was said to be from the 1740s. It sold in the United Kingdom for 53,000,000 pounds! Probably best not to keep it on a coffee table, if the owner lives with small children or pets. Michael Jackson, among having many other eccentricities, apparently was a collector of antiques. His collection was said to be worth $1  billion!

King Henry VIII was a collector of precious mirrors, worth their weight in gold. Possibly, this was due to the fact that, during the Middle Ages antique mirrors disappeared, because they were viewed as symbols of sin and vanity. Pope John XII declared, “The Devil can conceal himself in a phial or mirror.”

As much fun as it is to go on a quest for a few vintage gems and outdated curios, or to receive the odd heritage heirloom or two from family, I’m always on the lookout for gratis castaways. These are frequently placed somewhat forlornly by the roadside, just waiting for some schmaltzy sap like me, to come along and rescue them.

You need only ask any member of my family, who has gone for a leisurely drive with me down a country road and been abruptly instructed to “Put it in reverse!” as we peel backwards, to check out some roadside treasure. “Can you believe they’re giving this away?” I enthuse, as I speedily open the trunk.

Together with our daughter Ellie, I once fit a vintage settee into the back of our hatch-back, on our way home from dog obedience classes. Both Ellie and Farley, our German shepherd, were good sports, as Ellie nearly had her nose pressed against the glass, because her seat was up so far and Farley calmly sat on the seat, underneath the settee. Like I said, it’s the thrill of the hunt that makes it so much fun. It was worth it!

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