Sunday, 16 January 2011

Little treasures.








I have a friend who is a volunteer in one of our local charity shops. They have become so popular, haven't they? People take in books they have read, jig-saws they have completed, unwanted gifts - and, I suppose, the biggest influx may well be when there is a house-clearance when some old person has died. I tend to take in completed and thus unwanted jig-saws, paper backs I probably bought on holiday and don't want to clutter up my book shelves - that kind of thing.

One of our local charity shops has just had a major clear out, so that for a day or two the shelves were almost empty. But over the last fortnight they have begun to fill up again, and yesterday morning I stood in the shop chatting to my friend and looking at what had arrived over the week. There were the usual books, neatly lined up on the shelves (one of our charity shops slightly further away has a huge book collection ), there were lovely curtains, washed and ironed and hanging neatly from rails. But what fascinated me most were the 'knick-knacks' which peppered the shelves. There were little boxes, dishes, plates, ornaments - none worth very much and priced at a couple of pounds. And I speculated on where they had come from.

Were they unwanted presents? I doubt it as few of them looked new. I suspect that many of them came from houses where the owner had died and where nobody wanted these little things any more. I picked up one or two. Where had they originally come from? Had they been treasures to the owner? How had he/she come by them? What kind of history did each item have?

Well, of course, we shall never know. My house is full of such treasures; none of them worth very much in monetary terms but all of them holding wonderful memories of holidays taken or places visited. When the farmer and I have gone I suppose our
treasures will be split up and many of them will probably find their way on to such shelves. And with that act their history will die. They will end up on another mantelpiece, where somebody will probably pick one up and look at it and say, "I wonder where this came from?" I don't suppose any of this matters. As we get older 'things' begin to matter less to us, I think. But I have so many 'treasures' that I feel like sticking a label on the back of each one, giving its history.

I have just walked round the house photographing a few.
A cloisonne duck from Beijing (where else?)
A little bowl from the Smithsonian in Washington.
A wooden box from Samarkand.
A little square box from Istanbul.
A square black tin from Moscow.
A little picture from Pompeii,
A buffalo from Mesa Verde.
An Inuit dish from Vancouver.

Probably not worth fifty pounds altogether - but worth all the world to me in memories.

today's aros: holiday memories last long after the plane has landed.

Read the list of photos from the bottom up.

26 comments:

mrsnesbitt said...

So true! Our knick knacks tend to be dog, cat, duck, hen, goose themed! Says it all really!

MarmaladeRose said...

Hi Weaver and a happy new year to you and your lovely hubby.
Glad to hear the charity shop has reopened, it's one of our favourite haunts,lol. Although we haven't been out anywhere for what feels like weeks due the bad weather. I think we're semi hibernating!

Titus said...

You have a wonderful eye for little pieces, Weaver. Love them all, but particularly taken with the bison. The fact that you know their origin and history makes them so much more precious!
And as a bonkers flower-arranger, Charity Shops are undoubtedly the best and cheapest source for vases, containers and decorative elements. Must post my collection sometime!

Dominic Rivron said...

The idea of noting an items provenance on the bottom is a good one. I've just been reading A History of the World in 100 Objects. One of the objects in a Chinese Han dynasty laquer cup. Making them was very labour intensive. An inscription on the bottom lists all the six artisans that made the cup - not to mention the seven product inspectors who guaranteed its quality!

Bovey Belle said...

Whenever we go to auction, or trawl the antiques marts or car boot sales, I often ponder on the history of what is on offer. I know that some of these little knick-knacks are just what other people are looking for so they have a new history attached to them, which is comforting.

Having had my eldest daughter helping me "clear out" in advance of having to pack when we FINALLY SELL the house, she is ruthless, and I am afraid a few things have slipped back into the cupboards when her back is turned! They are MY memories after all . . .

Elizabeth said...

Love your little bits and pieces. Yes, so sad when memories get chucked.
One of my treasures is a pretty hideous little blue jug with a seagull on it from Seaview, IoW.
A friend found it in a charity shop and gave it to me.
Reminds me of summer hols circa 1957.

You are right. Ones travels last forever in one's head.
Now I am a major shutterbug, I look at my photos over and over.

izzy said...

Love the duck! I know what you mean about keepsakes. Who cares if they are found, gifts or second hand! packed with
heartfelt reminders. Thanks.

Reader Wil said...

Once I did a post about souvenirs and came to the conclusion that the stories behind them were more important that the objects themselves. Lateron when I am gone, I don't like the children to be bothered by them, before that time I should have given them away.
Well...we'll see.

Golden West said...

My maternal grandmother let each of us grandkids choose a family treasure to have. She enjoyed seeing a part of her past every time she came to visit.

My favorite of your treasure - definitely that Russian box! Always partial to flowers - it's lovely!

I packed a box for my daughter's internet business the other day, bound for North Yorkshire and I thought, "Why, I have a friend near there!"

steven said...

so true weaver! the stories beg to be told but they rest with the storyteller. tape a note to the bottom of each item. i especially like the inuit piece. steven

Heather said...

Your little treasures are lovely Pat and the memories they evoke for you are priceless. I love pottering around charity shops and always return paperback books to them to be sold again. Some of my treasures belonged to my grandmother and not even their 'antique' value will make them valuable, but I love them nonetheless. It's a good job I have five children to share the load of clearing our house when the time comes!!

Hildred and Charles said...

A poignant post, Weaver. When I worked harder in our Bargain Centre than I do now I would help unpack boxes that were brought in by families of those who had died, and surely amongst them there would be treasures that match my own here at home. I think that a little history on the back is a splendid idea, - my son-in-law admired an old plate I was using the other day and I was pleased to be able to tell him its history and a little about the dear friend of my mother's who had once owned it.

Jane Moxey said...

Oh I know what you mean about the personal treasures. I have tried to make sure that I have described the significance of most of them to our sons! But you are so right, those things do evoke memories -- a helpful thing as one gets older! I used to be a big collector of silly souvenir mugs from everywhere that had my first name on them. Before we moved from California, I had a mighty chuck-out of those which, at the time, was quite a wrench! But good idea to put a little sticker on the bottom of your treasures!

MorningAJ said...

My house is full of what other people would probably think is junk. (Some of it is little more than scrap paper)Everything means something to me. Some of the bits are even things my parents collected. I have a box full of things I plan to take to the charity shop some day (but they've been boxed up for a couple of years now and haven't got there yet!)
I love the Inuit bowl.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have a good friend who is fond of saying, "You can't take it with you". But then, he always adds... "But I'm taking it ALL with me!".

I've yet to work out how he plans to manage this, but there you go.

Jo said...

Weaver, your treasures are beautiful. Their monetary value means nothing. They are made valuable by the wealth of memories and sentiment attached.

This is an insightful and poignant post, and I thank you for the food for thought.

Linda said...

My mother and my mother-in-law both passed away in the last year and all of their "collections" have come to my brother and I. Oh, how I wish I had a charity shop in our area!!! We have packed up hordes of little treasures, both mothers living to the ripe old age of 90 and both having traveled extensively... well, there are oodles of treasures to be had! My dwelling is not nearly big enough to hold on to all their things, even though I have shared with both of them all the stories of why these items are to be treasured. Neither do I have the time to include notes on the items. There is just too many plates, cups, spoons and knick-knacks.

Thank you for the post Weaver. I agree with Steven,
that I like the Inuit dish from Vancouver. It's so Canada. =D

ChrisJ said...

I have a couple of little wooden boxes like the one you have from Russia, only mine are made of wood and have the lacquer work just like yours. I think one of mine came from Russia and the other from either Bulgaria or Ukraine. I have SO many of these kind of knick-knacks. My husband brings them back from his travels. They're fun and now you've given me an idea for a post for when I run out of ideas.

angryparsnip said...

Many of my treasures are rocks that I have picked up from many places. I remember many of them but just recently I thought maybe I should mark them but then who would really care besides my children ? to many a rock is just a rock.
When I moved recently I had the moving company pack and move many of the big rock that I had in my garden.
I am sure when they tell stories of their worst moves I will be very high on the list.
I gave them a very good tip for that move, so maybe just on the crazy but nice list ?

cheers, parsnip

Pondside said...

We just did a huge clear-out of the attics yesterday - first time in 8 years - so there will be lots of stuff in the Vincent de Paul shop!
I recognized the Inuit dish right away and was quite chuffed to have guessed right.

Eryl said...

Rather than putting notes on the bottom of things, you could make a book with photographs of each object, and its story. I know this won't help the people browsing them in charity shops but it will make a lovely document for your children/grandchildren to inherit.

Delaine said...

WE ARE SURELY KINDRED SPIRITS, MY HOME IS ALSO FULL OF TREASURES, SOME ARE FINDS THAT ARE SO NICE AND THE PRICE WAS SO LOW IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A SHAME TO LEAVE IT WITH SOMEONE WHO DID NOT APPRECIATE ITS ARTISTIC VALUE. MY PROBLEM IS i AM STILL DOING IT, THE HUNT STILL HOLDS MY ATTENTION. I COLLECT ANTIQUE QUILTS AND I SET MY MIND TO NOT BUY ANOTHER UNTIL I SELL SOME, BUT THEY COME TO ME THAT IS THE ONLY WAY I CAN EXPLAIN IT I HAVE BECOME THE KEEPER OF ANTIQUE QUILTS, I TELL THEIR STORIES AND SHARE THEM AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE THEY ARE TREASURES I CALL THEM HUGS FROM THE PAST AND I AM UNDER A SPELL AND I LOVE IT. SO SPIRIT SISTER ENJOY THE HUNT AND KEEP ON WRITING I LOVE IT

Totalfeckineejit said...

There's a poem in there Pat! Hint , hint!! :)

Dave King said...

Our top local charity, a hospice, which has long had shops in and around town, recently opened a warehouse sized place where people take large objects including furniture.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Some nice ideas here in the comments - labels under pieces, a little book of photos with details of where things came from - might try one or the other - thank you for the comments.

Kat Mortensen said...

That one on the right looks like a rare steak on a plate!