There is something about family heirlooms that makes many of us check our brains at the door. I know; I’ve been there. An heirloom is a very fine, very special thing to have, but it is astonishing how some old thing can stir up trouble and/or drain bank accounts.
Family heirlooms are a bit like real estate, in that nobody is making any more of them. Every passing year adds to a relic’s luster. An heirloom may be (and often is) a simple, plain thing but it survives the passage of time through the efforts of generations of people who protect it. In the process of preserving the piece, family members attach importance to it, a characteristic that both ensures its survival and, in some cases, sets the stage for battle.
You can see an antique at a shop and be unimpressed. But when the guy down the road shows you a similar piece and shares its history, dating to the War of 1812 when his great-great-granddad was an Army scout who eluded invaders through wily backwoods skills and bravado, suddenly your life feels meaningless and transitory and your possessions reek of big box chain stores. At such times, some take leave of their senses.
I was reminded of that as I considered a cautionary tale told in this issue of Farm Collector by an Arizona man who set out to find his father’s Farmall Model M (see article, page 46). I won’t spoil the read for you except to say that the guy’s buddy splashed him with some plain old common sense, and that made all the difference.
Sometimes, as the Arizona man discovered, all that glitters is not gold. Sometimes the true prize is of our own making. You bet, it’d be great to have the first tractor your great-granddad bought. But try to keep things in perspective, and use the buddy system to get a second opinion. If the deal du jour sounds too good to be true, it probably is! FC