15 Common Family Heirlooms You May Find in Your Home

Family Heirloom Items

Family heirloom items are things that have been in your family for a long time and passed down from one generation to the next. They are usually things that have a lot of sentimental value, like old photographs, jewelry, or furniture.

These special items are important because they help you learn about your family’s history and where you come from. For example, a family heirloom might have belonged to your great-grandmother, and she might have told stories about it to your grandmother, who then passed the item down to your mom or dad, and now it’s yours.

It’s important to take good care of these special items so that they can be passed down to future generations. You can do this by keeping them clean and storing them in a safe place.

By taking care of family heirloom items, you’re helping preserve your family’s history and ensuring that the next generation will be able to appreciate these treasures too.

Heirloom Meaning

An item of great worth that has been passed down from older to younger family members over numerous years.


  • This sword is a family heirloom and it has been passed from last 7 generations.
  • When we sold off those family heirlooms, we lost that revenue. – Hansard archive”
  • Few who have experienced the lack of atmosphere in a country house, bereft of its family heirlooms and furniture, would deny the logic of this policy. – Hansard archive”
  • Common items for exemption include clothing, furniture, appliances, motor vehicles, medical and dental aids, a home, family heirlooms, and some insurance. – “Wikipedia”
  • Older robes have become family heirlooms passed on from father to son and are worn as status symbols. – “Wikipedia”
  • His collections were not inherited family heirlooms but were collected by him during his lifetime. – “Wikipedia”
  • The “iraqiyeh” was worn by married women and elaborate pieces were passed down as family heirlooms. – “Wikipedia”
  • Afghans are often given as gifts and may become family heirlooms. – “Wikipedia”

Alternative Meaning: This term is utilized to describe fruits, plants, or seeds of a variety that has been in existence for a prolonged period.

Example: heirloom raspberries/tomatoes 

What Things You Can Call Family Heirloom?

Sometimes you might see products advertised as “heirloom quality” or made with “heirloom material,” but it can be tricky to figure out what qualifies as a real heirloom.

The main thing that sets an heirloom apart from other valuable objects is that it’s meant to be passed down from generation to generation.

While heirlooms can sometimes be worth a lot of money, they don’t have to be. The most important thing about an heirloom is the sense of connection it provides between different generations in a family.

An heirloom can be anything, from a glass plate that belonged to your great-grandmother during the Great Depression to your mother’s engagement ring.

It doesn’t matter how long the item has been in your family – it can be passed down for hundreds of years or just a few generations.

So, when you hear the word “heirloom,” think of it as a special item that has been cherished by your family for a long time and will continue to be cherished by future generations.

It’s not just about the monetary value but about the sentimental value and the history that comes with it.

15 Family Heirloom Items That You May Possess

Sometimes it’s hard to know what an heirloom is because it can be any special thing that gets passed down from family members.

But, if you look at the stuff you got from your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or other family members, you might find some things that have been in the family for a long time. These things are called family heirlooms; you might have some at home.

Jewelry Items

family heirloom jewelry

Sometimes when people have special, valuable jewelry, they give it to their kids or grandkids when they die. This is called an heirloom.

But, sometimes, people also have special jewelry that might not be worth a lot of money, but it’s still really pretty or has a lot of meaning to the family. This is called costume jewelry.

Either way, you have a family heirloom if you have old jewelry that used to belong to your family members, like your great-great-grandparents or something.

Some examples of heirloom jewelry could be lockets, rings, necklaces, brooches, earrings, or any other fancy jewelry that’s been in your family for a really long time.

It’s pretty cool to have something that’s been passed down from generation to generation.


Sometimes, people keep special things that are passed down from their grandparents or parents. These things could be things like sculptures, paintings, drawings, or other types of art. They are called “heirloom art.”

If you have some artwork in your home that used to hang or be displayed in your grandparents’ or parents’ home, it might be heirloom art.

These pieces might be worth a lot of money, but they might also be important to your family because of their sentimental value.

For example, let’s say you have a watercolor painting that your great-grandmother painted.

Even though it might not be worth a lot of money, it is still an important piece of artwork that your family treasures because it was made by someone special in your family.

Watches & Clocks

Sometimes families give their old clocks and watch to their children or grandchildren as a special gift. These clocks and watches are very special because they have been around for a long time and are worth a lot of money.

So when someone dies, they might leave these clocks or watches as part of their inheritance to their family members.

But these clocks and watches are also special because they represent important moments in our family’s history. For example, your grandfather might have received a pocket watch as a present when he turned 21 years old. Or your great-grandparents might have bought a clock to celebrate their first anniversary.

These clocks and watches have their own stories and memories that are passed down from generation to generation, making them very special to the family.

These special items are called heirlooms because they are passed down from generation to generation, and they remind us of our family’s history and traditions.


Another type of special item that can be passed down from one generation to the next is furniture. This can include anything from big pieces like tables and chests to smaller things like chairs and bookcases.

It doesn’t matter if the furniture is old or new, or if a famous brand makes it. What matters is if it’s high quality and has sentimental value to your family.

For example, your great-grandfather might have made a chair or bookcase that has been passed down to you.

Even though it might not be worth a lot of money, it’s still an important piece of furniture because it represents your family and its history. So, look around your home and see if you have any furniture passed down to you from your family.

If the furniture is well-made and has sentimental value, then it’s considered an heirloom. These special items are important because they help keep your family’s traditions and memories alive.

Family Recipes

Even though they might not be worth money, recipes are still important family heirlooms. Have you ever tried your grandmother’s biscuits or your great aunt’s famous lemon pie? These recipes are really special and passed down from one generation to another.

Food plays a big part in every family, and the recipes that have been passed down from previous generations are like heirlooms.

They are valuable because they carry memories and traditions of your family and help keep those memories alive. So, if you have any special recipes that have been passed down in your family, be sure to treasure them because they are really important.

Journals, Photographers, and Letters

So, you know how sometimes your family has old pictures, letters, or other really old papers and maybe a little bit fragile? These things might not be worth a lot of money, but they are super important because they can tell you a lot about your family’s history.

Think about it – when you look at an old picture, you can see what your great-grandparents looked like when they were your age! And if you find an old letter, you might be able to learn more about what your family was like a long time ago.

It’s really cool because these things are called “heirlooms,” meaning something passed down through your family. And even though they might not be worth a lot of money, they are still really valuable because they help you understand where you come from.

If you have some of these things in your house, you can even learn how to figure out how old they are! There are ways to tell how old a picture or letter is based on things like the type of paper it’s printed on or the way the handwriting looks.

So if you have any old pictures, letters, or papers in your house, take a look at them! You might be surprised at what you can learn about your family’s history.

Quilts & Vintage Textiles

Quilts and other vintage textiles are also considered family heirlooms. These items were made by hand and are really special because they took a lot of time and effort to create. In the past, many women would collect linens and store them in a hope chest.

The embroidery and sewing in these items are often exceptional, making them even more valuable. Many families treasure these handmade items and pass them down from one generation to another.

It’s cool to think about how your great-great-grandmother might have made a quilt you still have today! These handmade textiles are like a link between the past and the present, and they help to keep your family history alive.

Kitchen Items

knife and fork family heirloom

Your grandmother’s rolling pin may not be worth much money as an antique, but it can still be special as an heirloom. Food and cooking are important parts of family life, and cooking items can become important objects within a family.

You might have kitchen items like pots, pans, canisters, and other tools that belonged to your ancestors in past generations. These items might not seem very important, but they are valuable because they help to connect you to your family history.

For example, imagine making cookies with your grandmother’s rolling pin. Even though it might not be a fancy or expensive item, using it can help you feel closer to your family and your roots.

So, don’t underestimate the value of simple objects like kitchen tools because they can carry many meanings and memories.

Weapons, Firearms and Sport Goods

Guns, swords, and other weapons are special items that can be valuable in different ways, both in terms of money and sentimentality.

These things, as well as sports gear like fishing poles and canoes, can be passed down from one generation to the next, starting from great-grandparents or other family members.

Even if these items are not worth much money, they still hold a lot of importance because they are a part of your family’s story. Sometimes, these items, such as military service, may have an even more significant history.

For example, your great-grandfather might have used a hunting rifle or fishing pole that you still have today.

Using these items or seeing them in your home can help you feel connected to your family history and the people who came before you.

These objects are a tangible link to the past and can help you learn about your family’s traditions and experiences.

Books Including Religious Books such as Bibles

family heirloom books

Old books can also be considered family heirlooms, even if they are not as flashy or valuable as other items. From classic novels to treasured cookbooks, these bound volumes tend to be well-preserved and easy to pass down through the years.

Family Bibles, in particular, are really special heirlooms. Many of them have a page at the beginning for recording important family events, such as births and deaths. These records become important resources for tracing your family history and learning about your ancestors.

Imagine holding a book that your great-grandmother used to read or cook from. It’s like having a piece of her with you. Even though the book may be old and worn, it’s still really valuable because it helps to connect you to your family’s past.

So, don’t overlook the importance of old books because they can be meaningful family treasures.

Musical Instruments

You might also have some musical instruments, like fiddles, flutes, horns, or other items, that are family heirlooms. These pieces may have been used to make music by your great-grandparents or other relatives in the past.

These instruments are really special and meaningful as heirlooms because they connect you to your family’s history and traditions.

Some of them may even have monetary value, especially if famous manufacturers made them, but the real value is usually sentimental.

Imagine playing a tune on your great-grandfather’s old fiddle or learning how to play your favorite song on your grandfather’s guitar.

These musical instruments can help you feel closer to your family and your roots, and they also help to keep your family’s musical traditions alive.

Pottery and Fine China

Fine china is a type of dinnerware that is really delicate and fragile, so it needs to be handled with care. However, it can last for many generations because it’s well-cared for.

You may have some fine china in your china cabinet that belonged to your great-grandmother when she got married, or maybe you have some beautiful pieces of pottery that your aunt collected over the years.

These pieces are really special and often only come out for special occasions, like holiday meals.

By using them sparingly and taking good care of them, these pieces can remain in great condition for a long time. This means they can be passed down through your family, and you can enjoy them for years.

Imagine serving a special meal on your great-grandmother’s wedding china or using your aunt’s pottery to decorate your own home one day. These pieces connect you to your family’s past and can become treasured family heirlooms.

Wedding Gowns and Other Memorable Clothing

Family Heirloom Wedding Dress

Heirlooms are things that have been passed down from one generation to another in a family. They can be different types of things like jewelry, furniture, or even clothing that have special meaning to your family.

For example, your grandmother’s fur coat or a wedding dress that belonged to someone in your family could be an heirloom. These things are usually very old and have been in the family for a long time, which makes them very special.

Some heirlooms can be clothing associated with special events or occasions, such as christening gowns, embroidered shawls, or even really nice pieces that were exceptionally well made.

These items have a lot of history and meaning behind them, which makes them more than just regular clothes.

Many people keep these special items in boxes or other safe places to protect them and keep them in good condition for future generations to enjoy.

So, if you have any of these special items in your family, be sure to take good care of them and remember their history and meaning. They are a way to connect with your family’s past and carry on important traditions for future generations.

Glassware And Crystals

Crystal and glassware are other types of items that can become family heirlooms. These pieces are often really delicate and fancy, like your mom’s beautiful Waterford crystal or a bunch of colorful Depression glass that belonged to your great aunt.

These items aren’t used daily because they need to be handled carefully, so they tend to last for a long time. That means that they can be passed down through your family and become heirlooms.

Some of these pieces might be really old or rare, and they could be worth a lot of money to collectors. But even if they don’t have a lot of monetary value, they are still really special because of their family history and associated memories.

Imagine sipping a fancy drink out of your mom’s crystal champagne flutes or using your great aunt’s colorful glassware to serve dessert to your own family one day.

These items are more than just glasses – they are symbols of your family’s past and can be treasured for generations to come.

Silver Cutlery

Sometimes families have silver objects like spoons, forks, and serving pieces that their ancestors used. These objects can be made of a special type of silver called sterling silver, which is valuable.

Since these objects are so valuable, they are usually passed down from generation to generation in a family. Some of these silver objects are really pretty and well-made, and the old ones can be worth a lot of money because they are rare.

So, if you have old silver things in your family, they are very likely special heirlooms that have been passed down for a long time.

 Family Heirlooms Items Summary

  • Jewelry Items
  • ArtWork
  • Watches & Clocks
  • Furniture
  • Family Recipes
  • Journals, Photographers, and Letters
  • Quilts & Vintage Textiles
  • Kitchen Items
  • Weapons, Firearms and Sport Goods
  • Books Including Religious Books such as Bibles
  • Musical Instruments
  • Pottery and Fine China
  • Wedding Gowns and Other Memorable Clothing
  • Glassware And Crystals
  • Silver Cutlery

Common Family Heirlooms FAQ

Q: What is a family heirloom?

ANS: A family heirloom is something special that gets passed down from one generation to the next in a family. It can be like a treasure that reminds them of their ancestors.

Q: What is considered a family heirloom?

ANS: Family heirlooms are special things that have been passed down through generations. They can be anything from jewelry to recipes to letters and more. These heirlooms are important because they represent the family’s wealth, history, and memories.

When you inherit an heirloom from your family, it’s like you’re getting a piece of their story and a connection to the past. It’s a really cool feeling to have something that’s been in your family for a long time, and it makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself.

Q: How do you preserve family heirlooms?

ANS: If you have any family heirlooms made of paper, like letters or photos, you’ll want to make sure they’re protected from light, heat, and moisture. That means you should store them somewhere cool, dry, and dark, like in a drawer or a special box.

For fabric items, like quilts, it’s best to store them in special preservation boxes that are designed to protect them from dust and light. And if you have any family jewelry you want to keep safe, it’s a good idea to keep it in a box lined with velvet or satin.

This will help keep it from getting scratched or damaged. By caring for your family heirlooms, you can help ensure they’ll be around for future generations to enjoy.

Q: What is it called when you pass something down from generation to generation?

ANS: Family heirlooms are things that get handed down from one generation of a family to the next. It can be anything that holds sentimental or historical value, like a special piece of jewelry or an old family photo album.

Q: Can a house be a family heirloom?

ANS: Sometimes, a house that has been in a family for a long time can also be considered a family heirloom. It’s a place that holds a lot of memories and has been passed down through generations of the family.

How to Start a Family Heirloom

Did you know that any object can become a family heirloom? All you have to do is pass it down to the next generation and make sure they know the story behind it.

One way to do this is to write down your family’s history or make a family tree that includes the special objects that are a part of your family’s story.

This way, your children and grandchildren will be able to recognize these objects as important family heirlooms and know their history. It’s a great way to keep your family’s traditions alive and ensure your special objects are valued for generations to come.

RELATED: How to Create a Family Heirloom to Pass Onto Your Daughter