Tag Archives: heirlooms

Who Made This?

Sewing Work-box made by H. Michael George (My Grandfather)

Collecting history and information about the origins of artifacts is fabulous…. with research you can understand the country where it was made, the artist or company that made it and often its date too!

So, who has wonderful family artifacts that were hand-made by a family member or ancestor?  Is it signed and dated? Often it is not.

It’s time to write down the knowledge you have today, to preserve this story for the future. Below I’ve detailed three family-made items that are precious to me.  By taking a photograph, describing them and adding the information about their makers – Voila! You have created a little piece of history worth keeping and sharing forward to your grandchildren and beyond.

This wooden sewing box was made by my Grandfather, H Michael George (1899-1961). He made it for my mother Joyce Muriel (Bake) George (1925-1999) during the early years of his marriage to my father Peter C George (1926-2008).

Dovetail joints

It is well used and the outer surface has many scratches, the stain has been refinished. However, the box is stable, with joints, metal hinges and sections still firmly in place. Date: ca 1952, Measurement: 11″ wide, 8″ deep, 4 3/4″ high.

Interior segments secured by nails.

The work-box came into my possession in the 1970s, when I had become our family seamstress.

Cot blanket knitted by Irene E George (My Nanna)

Next is a particularly precious item. Many women in our family are keen knitters, and it was my Grandmother “Nanna” – Irene E (Symes) George (1903-1996) who taught me how to knit and sew. Over the years we all received Arun jumpers, baby blankets and more made by “Nanna”. This is a baby blanket made for my son,  which time “Nanna” was in her 90s and had very poor sight, close to blind.  She would knit all through the evening, and the next morning she inspect her work with a magnifying glass, and the morning sunlight. Spotting mistakes, she proceeded to unpick the knitting back to that spot. I am sure this wonderful item was knitted one hundred times over, making it all the more precious. It is more loved because of the stoic effort and care she put into producing it.

White wool yarn baby cot/crib blanket. Hand-knitted. Slightly loose at edges through washing and use. Date: 1994, Measurement: 26″ x 36″.

Pottery by Lesley (George) Johnson (My Sister)

My final piece is a hand-made pottery table lamp holder. This was made for me by my younger sister Lesley Karen (George) Johnson (1959-2001).  Around 1975 she attended Highbury Technical College, near Portsmouth to complete her English A Level, plus art and pottery. She was a skillful artist on many levels and different media, but creating one-off pottery items was her passion. I have a few of her pieces with me here in Canada. Perhaps one day I’ll return them to England for her children and grandchildren.

Flat, rolled and textured pottery, brown textured glaze. Date: circa 1976, Measurement: 4″ square base, tapering to 1 3/4″ top, 13″ high.

Do you have a family items that needs to be ‘documented’, their story noted, so it’s story is noted and origins remembered?



Digital Scrapbooking – with a Purpose!

Miniature vase (circa 1885), crested china, souvenir of Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Made by W.H. Goss, Stoke-on-Trent, England. The item is a replica model of Romano-Salopian Ewer which was found at Uriconium, and held in Shewsbury Museum.

If you look at a family heirloom, and feel there is ‘nothing to write’ about it, no story to collect!  You might be wrong, let me explain!

You may feel that you know nothing about an item, why Grandma, had it, who it belonged to before her, but regardless of how little you know, there is always a story to be told.

Start with Grandma herself.  When was she born, where was she raised, who were her parents… include any dates you know with full names…..   ie Janet (Jones) Smith, (1902-1978). Include maiden and married names.

Bring the story forward, add that Grandma was married to….. the son of….. and they had ? children.  Link yourself to the child that is your direct relative.

Now we can look at the item.  Many artefacts have a maker’s mark, or stamp. There is usually a clue to who made it, where and when.  An Internet search can bring forth items similar to yours. Unfortunately, many items are part of “for sale” listings, but if you carefully cross-check the information. You may discover the date of the artifact, and where it originated.

All in all, there is plenty of information to gather into a story.

Be warned, however, if you do not start creating the story soon, and jot down what you know….. the information may well be lost over time.

Wrap & Pack Your Family Heirlooms

If you are the designated keeper of your family’s heirlooms, you may wish to gather some knowledge on how best to store them. I feel it is our job to conserve items in the condition they are in, and to help prevent any further deterioration. The overall aim is to keep items from being destroyed by the environment, or by each other. This subject can be technical and complicated, so I’ll try to keep things simple!

Unwrapped items can be affected by moth, bugs, damp, mould. Placing items directly against wooden drawers can also be harmful.

A simple list of what NOT to do might include: avoid damp basements and barns, avoid wrapping items in newspaper or coloured papers, avoid sticky tape, don’t encapsulate, avoid sunlight….. and more.

During my time as Collections Manager at the museum we turned to the Canadian Conservation Institute for guidance. Their scientist and specialists produce a useful set of CCI Notes which described how best to store, clean and care for your artifacts (to museum standards). The wording can be a little technical, but some useful links might be:

Often the best advice is to make acid free covers and boxes, but sourcing the supplies to do this as a private individual can be expensive. For instance minimum orders of 20 point library card, rolls of Mylar or tissue can cost up to $1000. Here I am sharing some affordable items I found locally:

Cotton gloves – Shopper’s Drug Mart (medical) – $2.50

PH Testing Pens – Lines N’ Curves or Brodart (online) – $8

Acid Free Glassine (strong tissue for wrapping and inter-leafing) – Lines N’ Curves (online) packet 100, 16″ x 20″ – $35

Acid Neutral Library Board (strong wrapping card/paper for covers and boxing books) – Michael’s Art Store, Strathmore Artist Papers, Bristol Sheet 500 series, buffered has no ground wood or unbleached pulp, limits of metallic content, free from optical brighteners, a suitable substitute – $5

Mylar safe inert plastic map sheets – Carr McLean (online) for non-sticky encapsulation/protective covers, packet of 5 – $50

Coated Storage Boxes – protective banker’s boxes with lids – Carr McLean (online) – $25 each

Textiles may be store flat in clean white cotton pillow cases. Hanging items can be covered with a clean white cotton sheet. Avoid wrapping in plastic.

Here’s a start…. I’ll go into more detail in the next few posts!

A Gift For Seniors…

Are you stuck for ideas on what to buy parents and grandparents for Christmas…. then read on!

Seniors have collected and gathered wonderful items throughout their lives. Now they are surrounded by many precious items. They often say, “I don’t need anything!”  They have have all the ‘things’ they need.

However, among their collection, are likely a few very special items that have been passed down the family – family heirlooms. A vase and brooch that were Great Grandmother’s,  a quilt that she made. Military artifacts that belonged to Great, Grandfather etc.

Why not give a gift of having these few special items photographed and their stories gathered and ‘provenance’ documented.  The resulting booklet can be shared with grandchildren, can be in digital format or printed on paper.

If this is something you would like to arrange for your loved one. Contact met today. alison@treasurecollections.ca

WWII Woman's Land Army Arm Band
Documented – WWII Woman’s Land Army Arm Band