Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Under the Hammer - Trash or Treasure?

What is the oldest thing you possess? Is it worth any money or only rich in the memories it holds for you?
This is the question I found myself asking as I watched one of the many antique shows I love viewing. Antiques Road Show, Cash in the Attic, Flog It, and a few others are full of people who bring their antiques to the experts in the hope of them being worth a few bob.
One lady was auctioning off some of her possessions to pay for massages on the next cruise she was going on. She had a set of lovely paintings which she had won on a previous cruise that fetched a mere £60 or so but as they didn't mean much to her she was glad to get rid of them.
 Next up for auction was her grandmother's engagement ring, the lady must have been in her sixties so you could say the ring must have been at least a hundred years old. It was a straight setting of sapphires and diamonds and the presenter did say it was not really a style that sold well. It went for £40, I was horrified, how could she part with her grandmother's ring for such a small amount off money, to pay for a massage? She said she had no children to pass it onto but still It made me feel sad.
Time and time again I watch people being told that items that have been handed down in their family for generations could be worth a small fortune, then the items are sold  and leave the family forever.

 This is what makes me grateful that the oldest things I have are not worth very much except to me.
I do have jewellery belonging to my mum and aunt, wedding rings, engagement rings, the oldest would be my husband's grandmothers engagement ring,but I would never dream of selling any of them unless I was destitute. I wear some of it sometimes but most of the time they do languish in a drawer, but they're still in my possession if I want to take them out and relive memories of the people who wore them.
 Eventually I will pass them to my daughter and granddaughter and if they ever appear on Cash in the Attic I will come back and haunt them.

The oldest non jewellery item I have is a small glass sugar and cream set which was given to my parents as a wedding present so it must be fifty seven years old. I remember it sitting in a display cabinet and it was only used at Christmas and New Year. I occasionally played with it with my dolls but my mother never knew as I always replaced it back in the cabinet.





 After writing this I then realised that the photo of my husband's grandfather is the oldest thing we have. It must be at least seventy years old. He remembers it always being on his mum's wall and although it's not very stylish I could never see a time when it won't be kept within our family.












The only pieces of china I have which are valuable  to me are these plates which I have used many times.The reason they will never be worth  any money at an auction is, they were hand painted by me when I was twelve.








This was my first bible,it was given to me by an elderly neighbour and I loved the coloured pictures inside. It's a bit battered but it is 48yrs old and was very well used.












I have kept this telegram I received when I was eighteen and applying for jobs working abroad as a nanny.

My mum nearly had a fit as the job was in Abu Dhabi, but it offered as part of the package, a hundred pounds to spend on clothes (a fortune then) and a chauffeur driven car if I wanted to go out anywhere. Note the address as Scotland, England, although it was then scored out it gave us a good laugh.
 The interview was the following day and I couldn't get time off my job to go. I never did get to Claridges and the nearest I got to working abroad as a nanny was two weeks in North Berwick (two hours by car from home)


Worth nothing, except to me are the little butterfly brooch given to me by a child I looked after in a nursery thirty five years ago.
 The twenty first birthday key on a neck chain a birthday present from friends.
The silver sixpence, I had tucked in my wedding shoe for good luck was given to me by a work colleague, it even has the year I was born on it.





I do like antique shops but I am usually left with a feeling of sadness and wondering the reasons behind people selling items they at one time treasured. While in Turkey on holiday I looked in the window of such a shop, it was filled with men's pocket watches. All of them at one time was someone's pride and joy, a gift from a father to son, a wedding present from a bride to her groom or a treasured heirloom passed down the generations from grandfather to grandson each with it's unique story. I've never felt the need so much to speak Turkish as I did that day. I wanted to ask if the proprietor knew of any history behind those items or be able to read the inscriptions written on many of them, Why so many in the one shop? Sadly as I don't speak any Turkish I will never know the answer to my questions.

Am I too sentimental? Am I just a hoarder who keeps junk that should have been tossed out years ago?
Or do you, like me hold on to items that will never fetch a fortune at auction just for the memories that they hold for you?

Treasures once loved by their owners. Antique shop in Estonia 

Same antique shop.Photos from morgue files.


32 comments:

  1. I honestly don't have anything old or valuable.   Wish I did :)   I love the show Pawn Stars.  People have the most interesting things. 

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  2. I feel sad when I see stuff, esp. old family photos at flea markets and antique stores/shows.  The only old stuff I have are antique beaded purses and marbles.  My family didn't have anything to hand down, heirloom-wise.  If I inherit my parents' house then that'll be the oldest thing belonging to the family (it was built in 1889 and my folks bought it in 1952). 

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  3.  Hi Judy,like I said mine may be old but not of any value to anyone but me.

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  4.  Hi Jo Jo, yes the photos are really sad to see. A house would be good but would you sell it or keep it?

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  5. That Bible of yours looks a lot like the one I was given when I was seven. Are the pages delicate and sheer? It so funny to have seen that, I've been thinking about the books I read when I was a kid today.

    My oldest possession is a hardback copy of Jane Eyre. I've had it for 36 years. My step-dad bought it for me when I passed an English exam. 

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  6. patientdreamer18 July 2012 at 08:51

    Lovely post...  I had Mums old wedding rings from when she was first married to my Dad but we were burgled and they were stolen a few years ago and never found.  It was heartbreaking having to tell her even though at the time she was remarried again. I do have an old ring of my grandmothers but it is not worth very much but it's nice to hold on to.

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  7. There's no such thing as 'too sentimental'!! I keep things that matter to me, irrespective of the cash value. And if I'm not bothered - then they go. So I have my mother's Complete Shakespeare (falling apart so would sell for nothing) and a ring of my grandmother's (might fetch a penny or two), but sold the silver cutlery. So I agree - it's what it means to you that matters, not what it would sell for.

    But I might feel differently if the government cut my pension and I have to find the cash to feed myself.

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  8. Trish Nicholson18 July 2012 at 09:45

    Loved this post, Anne, and used to love auctions when I lived near them. Every lot is a story waiting to be told or invented, there's hardly a more inspiring place for a writer to spend an hour or two. Thanks. Trish.

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  9. I have mixed emotions here. I am a hoarder but I can also see the futility of keeping things in a drawer so that once or twice a year you can have a peep. For those who have no family to pass items on to, why not take them to an auction. As they say, you can't take any of it with you.

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  10. Hi Pam, yes the pages are very sheer and delicate, I don't know how they survived without being torn its only the spine that has gone. Lovely to have old books. I did have a large hardbacked atlas but I don't know what happened to it.

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  11. Hi Dianne, oh that was a horrible thing to happen. Always keep a hold of your grandmothers ring and it's good it's not worth thousands for that reason.

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  12. Yes Jo, if something you had was worth thousands but had a sentimental value too it would be hard to know what to do.

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  13. Hi Trish, I've never been to an auction,I'm tense enough when I watch them on tv. There must be jolts of stories that get lost when the items go to strangers.

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  14. Hi Ros, but it's still so sad that apiece of jewellery that maybe your great grandma saved hard for coukd be sold for £40 surely you would rather pass it onto a friend if you had no family?. Now if it was worth thousands that might change my mind.

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  15. Loved this post, Anne.  I am a real sentimental old softy when it comes to throwing out some things and totally ruthless with others.  I still have some of my children's baby teeth and they are middle aged.  (Not that they would fetch much at auction :) )
    After our little fracas with a chimney lining last year we had a complete change of our breakfast room including all the china.  I had a complete dinner, tea and coffee set in Royal Doulton Larchmont that my maternal grandad went personally to choose for my first wedding present when I was 18.  We didn't have the cupboard space for old and new so it had to go.  But I took it all to the local hospice charity shop because I thought grandad might not have been so upset to think that I had given it to a good home!   

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  16. I actually have nothing of age or value, and I like it like that. Even my jewellery is bought from market stalls - I'm fond of wooden beads and rope, handmade stuff. 

    But no, if I ever had my mum's or grandmother's wedding/engagement rings, they would definitely be staying in my possession. Some things are worth so much more than money!

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  17. I really enjoyed this post and I think you would have enjoyed my Tuesday's Treasure posts that I don't seem to do very often any longer. I have my grandmother's wedding ring on my finger and it feels really good. I love those shows too. And, yes, please send some rain our way.

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  18. Thanks Sue. I have many more things I keep,school reports ,certificates etc. Yes a shame you had to part with the dinner set but I'm sure it will be loved by someone and help a good cause at the same time. Sometimes there's just not room for everything.

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  19. Hi Annalisa,I often wonder if I found out something I had was worth thousands would I sell it or be in a dilemma .

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  20. Thanks Inger,yes I would have loved to hear about your treasures. I often wear my mums and aunts rings but they are a bit too big for me. I would love to send you rain as I know it would be welcome and we are so bored of it now.

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  21. Lisa_GrandmasBriefs19 July 2012 at 05:59

     Lovely stuff, Anne. I love old things and antique stores. Your hand-painted plates are beautiful.

    The oldest thing I own (well, it's actually my husband's) is a clock handed down to him by his mom. It was a wedding gift for his grandparents in 1929. Other than that, many of the features in our house are from the 1800s. The couple who built it gathered pieces as homes and landmarks from that era (staircases, mantles, and more) were being demolished in our downtown area and built the house around them. Kind of like living in a museum as there are brass plates stating the date and origination on several things. Took me a while to get used to it—but how could I not, as it's the perfect house for my hubby's clock. :)

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  22. I feel exactly the same way you do about things that were loved and handled by my mother and grandmother. It does not matter to me what their market value is. I only hoe that at least one of my 3 grown daughters will want to keep some of the things I have preserved and hand them down to their own grandchildren.

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  23. Lovely treasures! I wish I had more things like that around me. Moving trans-Atlantically several times means you can't be a hoarder!

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  24. Lisa ,your house sounds amazing,I think you had photos on your blog. How wonderful to live everyday surrounded by all that history so much nicer than a new build house.

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  25. Hi Joyce ,hopefully our daughters will see how much they mean to us. I think it matters more the older we are.

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  26. Hi Talli, yes difficult when you have moved back and forth but you can now start building your own treasures for your family .

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  27. I have a bracelet my parents found when they moved into a flat when they were first married. Its not of any value other than being old. To me its special, because it was fond in the place I was born.

    Apart from this, I have very little from the past.

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  28. Anne, another fabulous post. I love old pictures there's something really special about them.  I love antique shops too and when I look around them I do think about the stories behind them. 

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  29. Hi Maria, it just shows it's not the value put on something but the memories it holds for us.

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  30.  Thanks Kate,yes old photos are lovely, a moment in time captured forever.

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  31. Awww, how sad to hear of all the treasured possessions being sold and uncherished :( I'm like you, I'm VERY sentimental and an extreme hoarder, but all my valuables are worth very little, in a monetary sense.

    Your painted china plates are lovely! :)

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  32.  Thanks Catherine I love those plates. Now that I'm writing I want to go back to an antique shop and think of stories behind the items for sale.

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