Featured Heirloom Stories

Powder Room Set

Powder Room Set

Handpainted powder room set dates back to 1912


As a child, I vividly recall this set being displayed on my grandmother’s dresser.  Us grandkids were not allowed in Grandma’s bedroom – and for good reason because of things such as this delicate hand painted family heirloom.  This set was a gift to my Grandmother’s mother (my great grandmother) from her sister (my grandmother’s aunt).  It is signed  “To Margaret from alma 1912 Xmas.” When my grandmother passed, I claimed it because I think it is so special and it was obviously special to my grandmother, whom I miss very much.

Ceramic Powder Room Set by Heirloom Vault

Ceramic Doll

Handmade Ceramic Doll

Ceramic Doll

Meticulously handcrafted ceramic baby doll remains in perfect condition after 35 years


This is one of many dolls my grandmother made. She poured the ceramic into the mold for this doll, baked, painted the pieces, and connected them inside the doll with strong elastic cords. Her entire body is made of ceramic, not just the head and arms. The ceramic is engraved with a handwritten “Grandma ’86” on the doll’s neck. My grandmother gifted each of her daughters and granddaughters with one of these “newborn” baby dolls. My grandmother has been gone for almost 35 years, but I keep this doll on the bed in an unoccupied room in our house. She’s not an expensive doll, but she is a treasure I cannot place a price tag on.

Crystal Set

Antique Crystal

Beautiful crystal set stands test of time for lucky granddaughters


When I was 8 years old, my Grandmother gave me a set of cut crystal play dishes, which her grandma gave to her on her 5th birthday. She received them because she was her grandmother’s oldest granddaughter.  She told me that she was giving them to me because I was her oldest granddaughter, and that I was to pass them down to my oldest granddaughter.

My Grandma wasn’t sure if her Grandma bought them special for her 5th birthday, or if they were dishes she had already owned. Either way, they date back to at least 1912 or older!

Antique Crystal Heirloom Vault

Tin Can Decoration


Tin Can Flower

Wall hanging decoration made of tin cans


This decoration was made by my great grandmother. I’m guessing it was made in the 1960s.  It is made of several descending sizes of tin cans.  What is astounding to me is the detail of the cut metal, particularly the curly q’s on the end of each “petal.”
My great grandmother was very crafty and made a lot of things by hand including clothing. Back in her day, nothing went to waste.  Not even tin cans.  That is one of the reasons I keep this around to remind me of the harder times my grandparents went through.  It is also a one-of-a-kind unique and beautiful piece!

Baby Cradle

The Tiny Cradle

Handcrafted cradle for infant not expected to survive


My grandfather, Chester Sanborn, was born premature in 1881. They expected him to die, so put him in a shoe box on the open door of the wood stove. He didn’t die, so his father crafted a tiny cradle to keep him in. We don’t know how long he fit into it, but it was kept in the family. I remember it would hold 1 year of Reader’s Digests.


A friend of my grandmother painted it, I wish she hadn’t but that is provenance, I guess. Grandpa lived a long and healthy life and later retired to Florida.

Baby Cradle Heirloom Vault

Butter Knife

Heirloom Butter Knife

Butter Knife

Childhood gift traveled by covered wagon, remains in family today


This butter knife was given to Sarah Jane Bebout, by her aunt, Mary Bebout McFee, in the year 1845 when Sarah was just seven years old.  The knife itself is not sterling, nor does it have any makers marks. It does have a very strong “spell” in it! It common at the time to give “spirited” items as gifts.


I do not believe it was ever actually used as a butter knife, instead revered as being a remembrance of family connections and “breaking bread” with family. Sarah treasured this gift, and kept it through her years.  She grew up to marry a neighbor, Aaron Moore. They moved from Beaver County, Pennsylvania to Clarke County, Iowa. The couple had seven children. Aaron died around 1869, at age 44. After her husband’s death, Sarah traveled by covered wagon back to Pennsylvania with her young children.


Sarah remarried a man named Simon Martin Close. She lived from 1838 to 1920. Shortly before she died, she gifted her treasured butter knife to her granddaughter, Nellie Moore Stafford.  Nellie in turn, gifted the heirloom to her niece, Virginia McConahy Myers. When Virginia died, the knife passed to her sister, Edna.


My grandmother, Edna McConahy Adams Carter, knew Sarah in her later years, after she had remarried to Simon Martin Close. Edna greatly admired Sarah’s pioneer spirit and her strength. Edna remembered her great grandmother well, as Sarah died just four days before Edna’s 17th birthday. I acquired the heirloom from my grandmother Edna’s estate.


Sarah Jane Bebout Moore Close’s Findagrave page is: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/30055902/sarah-jane-close

Feel free to visit!  She was quite a woman.

Rickenbacker Bass

Vintage Bass Guitar

Extraordinary story of how this heirloom found it’s way back to owner


This vintage 1972 Rickenbacker bass belonged to the late Bob Raymond of the 70s hit band Sugarloaf.  (Who remembers Green Eyed Lady?) After the band broke up and he stopped playing music, and he pawned his bass, never looking back.  Years later in 1997, his kids and wife decided to purchase a bass for him as a birthday gift, in hopes he would start playing again.  His son went to a local pawn shop to pick one out and chose one he thought looked like his dad’s old bass.  Turns out, it was the same one.  Upon opening the gift, Mr. Raymond studied the bass meticulously and recognized every detail, particularly, a spot where the finish had chipped and worn off from rubbing against his belt buckle.

14 years later, Mr. Raymond gifted the bass to his grandson, musician Bailey Raymond aka Kick Stevens for his 14th  birthday. 10 years later, it still is and will remain a treasured family heirloom.

no place like home

German Letters

German Letters WW2 era

Woman in US receives letters written in German from relatives in Germany


Hattie (Bergman) Dreier, who had migrated to United States in 1893 with her family at the age of 4 received letters written in German from relatives who had remained there.  The earliest known (and saved) letter, dated Feb. 5, 1924 was from her first cousin, a priest who expresses his condolences to her regarding the death of her husband.  She had been left with 6 children to raise on her own who were aged 12 yrs to 6 months old.

Next were are series of letters from her brother who had remained in Germany with his wife.  The first letter is dated February 1934.  In this letter, what seems to be propaganda is reported about the state of the country of Germany at the time. The letter praises their new leader Adolph Hitler.  In the next letter dated May, 1946, after WW2 had ended, the brother describes Hitler in a much different light.

He goes on to describe the severe hunger, poverty and poor health he and his wife are enduring.

There is a gap in the letters from the first one in 1934 to the next in 1946 which leaves family guessing if letters had been written but confiscated during the war. The contents, being written in German, remained unknown until the letters were finally translated to English in 2017.

Diamond Necklace

Diamond Necklace

Mystery vintage diamond necklace leaves loved ones guessing


Imagine cleaning out your mother’s home after her passing and finding this vintage diamond necklace hidden in the back of a closet.  With no prior knowledge or history of this piece of jewelry, I took it to a reputable jeweler to get more information.  The jeweler estimated the age to be somewhere in the 1960s. The stones were confirmed to be real diamonds with a total gem weight of almost 3 carats. It was suggested by the jeweler that the piece was custom made due to the irregularity of the shape of the individual diamonds. (With my untrained eye, I didn’t even notice that until he pointed it out.)  He stated that any professional jeweler producing a necklace such as this (for retail sale) would not have set diamonds that were not shaped identically.

It was always speculated by my family that my grandfather may have been associated with the (Chicago) mob.  Therefore I wonder if he had this piece made for his wife, my grandmother, as some sort of barter or debt payment. The other mystery is why none of us knew this necklace even existed all those years. Why was it kept secret?

Vintage Diamond Necklace

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