I recently moved, and now have to find room in my dwelling for all the objects that both I and my co-habitant each own. We were cleaning out some of our cabinets of old stuff, agonizing over what to give away, throw out (and pretend we didn’t chuck to whoever gave the items to us), making room and thinking about what we need to get rid of, when I thought about why I was getting rid of 36 espresso spoons, and a huge silver teapot, and how we value culinary accoutrements has changed.
Sure we still value crystal, porcelain, beauty, and quality, but I look at so many of my grandmothers’ items and just think “I’m never going to use that” which leads me down the path of “so why am I keeping it?” which harkens the arrival of “but the sentimental value, the HISTORY, I might use it!” with the niggling whispers of “but its so inconvenient to take care of” and then the inevitable voice of reason saying “are you really going to change your established behavioural patterns to start incorporating this one [two, three…] heirloom pieces into your practice?”
That answer, in case you were wondering, is almost always: “nope.”
In the kitchen, I like things to be practical. I want items that have multiple uses and functions -saving valuable drawer space- and things that are no-fuss. If it tarnishes easily? NOPE. Bye. If you have to wrap it in cellophane just so the AIR doesn’t ruin it during the three year period between its eventual use, (looking at you silver teapot), than I seriously question whether I want it in my life.
I will say, upon unwrapping the teapot and seeing how lovely the little detailing is, thinking of my Grandma using it to host her friends and family, I willfully ignored that voice of reason and decided to keep it for some as-of-yet unknown tea party. Someday, I tell myself. (It has a family history. I tell myself.) Someday. I will be glad I didn’t give this away.
At this point it sounds like I really need to make (and stick to) a deaccessioning policy for my own house.
Top of the list of this imagined deaccession policy, right after “unnecessary,” “no emotional connection,” “fussy,” and “unattractive,” (harsh, I know,) I put silver. I can’t help but notice the decline in the popularity (read: willingness to take care of) this material. It’s a rather high maintenance item that doesn’t hold the same sway in new generations. The dying status of silver has also harkened the slow demise of skilled silversmiths.
Of course, there were some delightful discoveries, that I didn’t for a SECOND even think of giving up:
Given that I didn’t get rid of that teapot, I snuck one third of the espresso spoons out of the give-away pile when my Mom wasn’t looking, and I abjectly refused to throw away anything remotely attractive (with fleeting, guilt-ridden regard for, you know, use), I call my attempt to stick with a deaccession policy a glorious failure. I need to bring in my Collections friends, they are made of sterner stuff than I!
What about you? What family and historical treasures do you have squirrelled away in your cupboards? Have you managed to “deaccession” any?