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Replacing Heirlooms And Keepsakes At Estate Auctions

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

The fire ate through Melanie’s house, taking most of the structure in a life-changing early-spring event. Of course Melanie was upset about the loss of the house where her life had been staged for so many Christmases, Easters, and birthdays. But the absolute heartache came when she realized the blaze consumed irreplaceable heirlooms from her family, part of her own personal history. The insurance would take care of the house, but no amount of money could recover Grandma’s bed or her Aunt Sally’s armoire that had been lost in the fire. She was devastated at the loss of those and other family heirlooms. How could she replace family heirlooms and keepsakes? Why are those heirlooms so important? Can the keepsakes even be replaced?

Searching estate sales or estate auctions for heirlooms and keepsakes

The insurance settlement was enough to replace all the old furniture and knick-knacks with new. But Melanie hadn’t even considered it. She has diligently pored over inventories of area consignment stores, swap meets, estate sales and estate auctions, looking for replacements for her family keepsakes. The search became sort of a therapeutic game. What did her family have in common with the one holding the estate auction? Maybe the patriarchs worked in similar positions during their careers. Maybe their wives were similarly attached to school, or civic organizations. If the estate auction is nearby, perhaps the children were classmates. The game concludes when the recently acquired piece changes hands. There were probably hundreds of estate auction items similar to those from Melanie’s family, most produced in various manufacturing hubs around the world and many for sale for pennies on the dollar.

Why are keepsakes and heirlooms important?

Why does Melanie attend estate sale after estate sale, intent on replacing her family heirlooms and keepsakes? Of course the lost furnishings were souvenirs of her childhood, times with Grandma and Aunt Sally. However, there’s more to it than that. Psychologists tell us that losing important family heirlooms affects our own identity. Losing these items seems to downplay our importance in the family dynamic, especially if we blame ourselves for the loss. Mental health professionals also say that having such keepsakes and heirlooms keep us emotionally invested in our family. Having Grandma’s bed and other heirloom pieces is a tactile way of remembering family and events like births, deaths and anniversaries. A way to mark time, as in Aunt Sally got that armoire the year I was born.

Can an heirloom ever be replaced once it’s lost?

Some studies say yes, keepsakes and heirlooms can be replaced. Especially if the person who lost a particular keepsake is the one who finds the replacement. And even more so if the search was a grueling one. Kind of like earning back a place in the family.

Keepsakes and heirlooms mean vastly different things to different people. For instance, a cookie jar that is incidental to some, may be a real treasure to another family. While Melanie began scouring estate sales looking for attachments to her own family, some other family was letting her shop in their inventory of keepsakes.

Besides the relief felt by finding replacement heirlooms and keepsakes, Melanie has now become part of other families’ histories. Not only through knowing part of its story, but from actually owning small portions she found at estate auctions. She is now the guardian of her new keepsakes that has her intertwined with strangers.

If you find yourself longing to hold that special keepsake, check out the estate auctions or estate sales by High Plains Auctioneers. Our estate auctions typically have many household items available that could become your new heirlooms. For more information, give us a call at (806) 244-6776. You can also contact us via email.