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Protecting and Saving Your Family’s Heirlooms and Memorabilia

Posted · 9 Comments

Family heirlooms and memorabilia have a special “value” that you should consider. This graceful Italian alabaster sculpture is a treasured heirloom from the owner’s mother. It was originally bought in the 1920’s in Florence  and was passed down from mother to daughter.  Sadly, due to improper packing and storage, the center section broke into several pieces.  This greatly upset the owner, as this heirloom was considered very valuable to her.

Damage due to improper packing and storage can be attributed to common sense mistakes.  For example, some clients damage pieces when they stack a heavy box on top of delicate items. However, not all potential damage is as easily avoided, and when tricky scenarios occur sometimes you need an expert opinion.  When advice is needed for packing and protecting home items, we have found such businesses as The UPS Store are extremely helpful… but don’t scrimp on the packing! Although it may require more time and money to protect your treasured valuables when packing, moving, and storing, it is less expensive than restoration.  Keep in mind that extra padding on all sides of a packing box is a cheap alternative to repair and loss of value.

Although it is important to take extra precautions when packing and moving, it is another issue for items on display in your home that can be damaged by various unseen forces  (earthquakes, hurricanes… and grandkids!). We recommend using Museum Wax, which is an anchoring wax that can help you avoid damage to collectibles when a building starts to shake.  It secures valuable items to the wall, shelves, tables, and more, which means less falling and breaking for art collectors.   Once this client’s decorative plate is restored to its previous delicate beauty, she can further protect it for further generations by securing it with Museum Wax. Click here for more info on How-To instructions and Museum Wax:

The lovely alabaster sculpture including the damaged center.

The fragile center piece that was broken due to improper moving and storage.

For a news article featuring Scott M. Haskins’s, Click here:

For art conservation and painting restoration questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or

For art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or

See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTube channel “Bestartdoc

See short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for art collectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel “preservationcoach

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9 Responses to "Protecting and Saving Your Family’s Heirlooms and Memorabilia"
  1. I have a question: Do wood jewelry boxes make good family heirlooms? They seem to last for generations.

    • Scott Haskins says:

      There are a couple of interesting things about your question:
      From a preservation point of view, regarding storing jewelry, a wooden box will be an appropriate storage container… in other words, the wood box won’t cause any adverse effects.

      BUT, DON’T use a wooden box (no matter how beautiful/historic/heirloom it is) for storing cloth or paper items. The acid in the wood will cause accelerated deterioration.

      From an heirloom point of view, it could end up being a treasured keepsake, depending on family relations…

      BUT DON’T count on the financial value to increase. If a sales person tries to use that as a reason to buy the item, it is pure sales hype over which they or you have no control over.

  2. Sue Stealzar says:

    I was really interested in your posts on other blogs about being asked by the Smithsonian to be part of a delegation to go to Haiti to save/salvage art. I hadn’t heard anything about that effort. Thanks for caring and for being involved!

    I’ve been trying to help spread the word about Haiti relief through Google ( as part of my efforts at Amnesty (

    I am a big fan of yours for the efforts you make to raise funds for Humanitarian Aid… but I don’t remember where I heard about that from. Can you tell me more about it?

    • Scott Haskins says:

      As you might imagine, with a book name like How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster, I am interested in humanitarian aid. I am donating a portion of all sales to help internationally, all peoples, races, religions, politics. My first goal is to raise $1million. We are just getting started and I have yet to set up the info and donation pages on our websites but yes, we are active. We give the raised funds to LDS Philanthropies for international use. They work with Catholic Charities, Islamic Relief, The Red Cross and others. 100% of all donations arrive to the needy. No money is spent on admin. More info to come so stay in touch!

      One cause we have embraced is which we have supported for about 8 years now.

  3. Lella Seth Krystek says:

    I’m just beginning my own, and I’m already seeing the coolness of keeping kind-of a photo archive of important things for me and my friends. I mean, it turns into a really fun thing to talk about with my girls… and I have some great friends. So, thanks for the cheap archival options and the good ideas. I think we’ll be thinking ahead also about the wedding stuff. Your story was cute. Thanks.

  4. Kati Speakman says:

    My friends and I (we’re from Florida) have been watching this blog for a while and we really like it. Thanks for such easy to follow help for us to take care of our stuff at home. Your book is great. Thanks

  5. judy mathews says:

    I was talking to our local police chief and he strongly recommends that the family heirlooms be stored in a safe deposit box at your local bank . I went to my bank and and for $35 leased a box for a year. My bank also told me I could obtain insurance for the contents of the box that would pay for any damage due to a hurricane , flooding etc. and the coverage would provide coverage to replace papers and photos. It cost me $25 for a year.

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