Privilege Blog

A Catalog Of Stuff From Grandmama’s House

I recently was asked to show you all of the artifacts from my grandmother’s house in one fell swoop. The Hostess of the Humble Bungalow suggested it might be helpful to see all this stuff in one place. Good idea. High WASPs revere order, packing lists, and following direction.

It’s not a collection, this. Little is displayed. But in cupboards, on bookshelves, and pulled up to tables you will find:

1. A Tiffany bowl. With my grandmother’s initials. The same as mine, you will notice. My mother did that on purpose, but replaced Louise with Lisa. High WASPs are monogramaphiliacs.

2. A porringer. Matilda probably ate some oatmeal from this bowl. Or threw it on the floor. I mean, babies are babies.

3. A silver shot glass. We also like alcohol rather a lot.

4. Some Chinese snuff bottles. It’s possible we used to like snuff. Certainly we like travel. And souvenirs of travel. It reminds of us life outside constraints.

5. A silver pitcher. Into which I once put some tulips. Although this may in fact be from my father’s side. We don’t keep track the way you think we might. Same was true of the family fortune. It’s all a glossy cloud of imagined abundance.

6. Grandmama’s mirror, English, or Federal from Boston. You all were quite helpful and I thank you.

Federal Mirror With Lion Foot

7. And finally, two chairs. Two, um, wooden chairs. The matching set has been distributed throughout the cousins. I don’t even know who has the other ones. My brother and sisters have benches like this. You know, um, wooden. I believe they are old. But I couldn’t guarantee it.

I put them out on the concrete front walkway of my little California ranch house, in order to take the picture in daylight. Sat amongst the moist lavender and lamb’s ears for a good angle, but luckily the ground had dried out a bit from the recent rains. You work with what you’ve got.

That leaves only a maple bedframe unshown. But it’s where my son lays his head down when he comes home from college. Hence unphotographable. You don’t want to see the bed of a 20-year old. Even if it does feature original fasteners.

Which brings up the question, of course, of original fasteners. In all their shapes and guises, both symbolic, and and in beds covered by tousled boy sheets.

Have a wonderful weekend.

38 Responses

  1. Such gorgeous silver pieces! And the snuff bottles are quite interesting; I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them, but they are small works of useful art.

    I’ve been meaning to shoot and share the Victorian serving pieces inherited from my grandmother, will have to do that soon.

  2. Such an evocative selection! I’ve been divesting some family mementos as I prepare for a move; your reverent photos encourage me to keep more, even if I have to put it in storage. My early-twenties sons don’t want silver now, but someday they might.

  3. Now that is one lovely collection, I love it all, each and every piece. You won’t be surprised to know I am particularly attracted to the pink and green snuff bottle, but honestly, the tulips in the vase are just what we needed this coldsnowyyuckywinter morning. Thank you for putting a smile on this cranky old face!

    May you have a delightful weekend Miss Privilege!

  4. It’s a beautiful assembly of objects, exuding authenticity and family history. Time passes; good things remain. I have a little Matilda of my own, and therefore a soft spot for the porringer.

  5. LUSTING after all the heirloom silver. Especially as you and Mum have the same monogram (DMM and MoMo have the same and it was based in the same reasoning as sweet Louise had for you too)- I have to say that there is nothing quite as lovely as an old family piece of silver- luckily on MoMo’s side- we’re Southern and her sis has no time and place for such fineries, so MoMo and her two lucky girls get all of the fabulous old pieces. Will have to catalogue and report back next time I’m home.



  6. Thank you Lisa!
    The two chairs have a nice patina, so nice that they were let out for some fresh air in your garden!
    The Matilda bowl is exquisite, LOVE the detail and the script shows a lovely hand…
    nice touch with the tulips…
    roses love the cold of silver too, they seem to last longer.

    Have a fabulous weekend!

  7. That porringer is gorgeous, as are all of your family heirlooms. My kids’ bed frames have been handed down through the family. My 3-year-old son sleeps on one that belonged to his great-grandparents, while daughter sleeps on one that was my mother’s, then mine. Something quite wonderful about that, in my modest opinion. :)

  8. The silver bowl with your monograms is my favorite, of the pieces you show. Simple, elegant + the monograms.

  9. What lovely mementos of your dear Grandmama! Of course, monograms always make heirloom pieces that much more meaningful. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pieces of history with us. Have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Lovely! You are so right about the monogramming – if you visit me, I may just monogram you if you sit still too long ;-) Have a great weekend, Lisa! xoxo

  11. My sisters all got monogrammed silver baby cups when they were born. I got a food pusher. Yes, a silver food pusher, wth?

    My youngest sister shared a monogram with a great aunt, completely random. Sister = first/middle/last, Great Aunt = first/maiden/married. Needless to say, little sister scored when Great Aunt went on to her reward.

  12. The silver pieces are very nice, and I love the colorful snuff bottles.

    Do you think your children will want these things someday?

    We love elegant things, but our kids don’t seem to.

  13. LOOOOVE the silver. I have not been “bequeathed” any of those yet. So in spite I registered for some on my wedding registry. I hope I get the “old ones” as I’d value them much more. I like my items antiqued! So love the “thimble full” shot glass – perfect on the butler’s tray for entertaining. I may do a post like this one, such a good idea!

  14. What lovely things! I have many things from my mom, but I thought I had nothing from my grandmother. I have a dinged up old real silver pair of small candelabra and just this week saw them in an old pix of my grandparents home. So happy to discover I really DO have something from grandmother! Lucky you to have such a treasure!

  15. I love the silver shot glass. Old Australian farming families must be a bit WASPish because they like alcohol too…

    We inherited a collection of snuff boxes from The Farmer’s grandmother. They are very precious to us.

  16. Lisa, they are all lovely…being raised southern, I will monogram anything that doesn’t move, and completely understand about bequeathing initals for that reason….But I am particularly impressed at how well polished everything is. Very Sturdy of you. :)

  17. Lovely. I have a number of family pieces, too. And some with initials I didn’t recognize until Mother told me that they were purchased by my grandparents during the Depression. So I should just go ahead and say they were were family members with different initials.

  18. Oh. I love the beautiful silver. I like your bowl the best. Silver is a particular favorite of mine, and I’ve been lucky enough to inherit a few pieces.

  19. I love the silver pieces! My mom bought antique baby cups for each of my boys. Each one is unique and has a beautiful story behind it. I have my husbands silver baby cup, fork, spoon, and yes, a pusher. He actually used all of them, but then he actually bowed to adults as well. Those are my favorites.
    I love your blog! Cheers!

  20. I particularly like the picture of the chairs. It looks as if they have sidled up to the hedgerow, single-file, in an attempt to make a break for it. Creeping along, all Spies-Like-Us and the camera caught them unaware ;)

    Well, on one side I’m descended from the actual Puritans, dating back to the ship after the Mayflower. On the other, Scottish coal miners who worked very hard and bettered their lot in life. I must say, it is not a particularly WASPish trait to have “stuff” be definitive of a station in life. My grandmother (still alive, actually) in Scotland takes tremendous pride in all the silver she’s accumulated whereas the WASP side in America took the stuff for granted.

    Of course, to most of the people today it all broadcasts the same message, “Gah, what a lot of stuff to polish.”

    Perhaps or status symbols have morphed into other things? I honestly don’t know.

    Anyway, what a thought provoking post, LPC. It really does evoke a vision of a particular type of person with very set priorities. It’s not a case of “right” or “wrong” ones either…just increasingly distant ones, you know?

    As an aside, my goodness, you take wonderful photographs. Truly they look like professional shots.

  21. EAS – Thank you. I think she would approve.

    Deja – Looking forward to your post. I am sure it will be thoughtful, as always.

    Duchesse – Yes, your sons, or their partners, will maybe be quite happy about it one day. Although I understand the desire to pare down, for a move.

    TPP – I can just imagine the Preppy Princess Inaugural Snuff Bottle Collection:). Thank you.

    mise – Aw. Yours is Matilda? It turns out that’s probably from my dad’s side. As I said, it’s hard to keep track of those who come before. But of those who come after, not hard at all.

    QBS – The sharing of monograms is quite useful:). Show me the silver!

  22. Hostess – Thank you for the opportunity. The chairs thanked me for their outing:).

    Lori – Happy weekend to you too.

    Jen – I agree. There is something wonderful to it. Family, endurance.

    Mette – Do you have any monogrammed items? Is that common in Finland?

    Tara – Thank you!

    Preppy 101 – Sit me on a porch, or a sofa, with good conversation, I’ll be happily monogrammed in your company.

    1. LPC: Yes we have silver cutlery and bowls,etc., monogrammed. My both daughters and I have the same MMM monogram, so in the future, the silver can be divided easily.

  23. Patsy – Ha! One of my kids got a food pusher. And of course, neither of them ever ate anything that could be pushed:).

    Mater – They are satisfying, kind of in the back of my mind.

    Susan – Yes, I am sure my kids will want some of these things. They are small, pretty, and can be tucked away. Or sold, for that matter, I suppose.

    Miss Janey – I thank you.

    Worthy – Thank you. Looking forward to seeing any collections.

    Madeline – How wonderful to figure out, as a surprise, where something came from.

  24. Laura – Thank you. It’s very much a work of imagination, inheritance, in my experience.

    Easy and Elegant – What a good idea! Why hadn’t I thought of that? And thank you for the kind words.

    Gablesgirl – I believe we have the right to define “family” however we like.:).

    Town and Country – Thumb back? Is that’s what they are? I knew someone smart would give me a clue:).

    Terri – Thank you.

    Virginia – Thank you for the kind words. What nice presents your mom gave you all. We curtseyed, when very little. But moving to California put a stop to all that pretty quickly:).

  25. Rhonda – Ha! I do love to polish silver.

    SSG – Thank you so muchl

    Land of Shimp – Oh please come tell the stories of all my stuff. I agree that the stuff doesn’t define the station in life. It’s just kind of the nap on the velvet, if you will. The set priorities of stuff should fall away. I hope the priorities around values, around codes of conduct and honorable behavior, doesn’t.

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