photo of a silver tea service

Heirlooms: Undressing the Table

There are some heirlooms that carry greater sentimental heft than others. China and silver always seem to rise to the top of the “I feel guilty about getting rid of it” list. Maybe because these are often wedding items? That’s my best guess.
 
Your mother or grandmother or great-grandmother lovingly chose these at the outset of her marriage. They were likely expensive and treasured items, some of them used daily and some brought out only for special occasions.
 
This does not mean you have to want them.
 
In all likelihood you don’t drive the same car as your grandmother, you don’t listen to the same music she loved, and you don’t dress the way she did. So why should you use her dishes?
 
Here’s a little piece of advice: if you love your family china, USE IT.
 
My current daily dish set is one my mother only used at Christmas and other “fancy” dinners. I’ve always loved it, but there’s no way I’m putting it on a shelf and ignoring it 360 days of the year.
 
We’ve broken one or two and I’m okay with that. As far as I’m concerned plates are made to be used, not protected.
 
Use them if you love them and give them away if you do not. You’re under no obligation to hold onto things other people loved.
 
If you think they might be valuable, go ahead and sell them. Otherwise, your best bet is to donate.
 
I like Replacements as a place to start the evaluation process. Remember that if you sell through their site you’re going to get a lot less than the listed purchase price. You could also look at consignment – there are still places that do that. Google will help you find the most likely.
 
But, of course, everyone else is trying to sell Grandma’s china, so keep in mind that no one is really getting rich in this game.
 
Silver ranks up there with china in terms of the feeling that you should hang on to it. In fact, the sentiment is even worse with silver because it seems like it should be valuable. I mean, it’s made of silver, after all.
 
If you want to try to sell it, you’ve got to figure out what it’s worth. Then you’ve got to find a place to sell it. Here’s a great comprehensive guide to doing all of that.
 
Please don’t be alarmed at the idea of melting it down! Think of it as evolution rather than destruction. Better to have new silver objects made than a huge bunch of forks quietly tarnishing in a drawer.
 
Again, if you love it, use it! You might impress your friends. You might start a whole new trend! Do what makes you happy.