As an antiques appraiser, I consider myself something of an expert on grandmothers, and I’ve arrived at some thoughtful observations:
1. No matter how humble your grandmother’s lifestyle while she lived, she was a shrewd shopper, and all of her possessions are now “very valuable.”
2. The reason more people didn’t come to America on the Mayflower is because your grandmother had too much furniture onboard. (And I’ve already seen three shiploads full.)
3. There must be a little-known section of the Internal Revenue Code that reads: “Upon the death of a grandmother, all property belonging to the decedent automatically becomes antique.”
My conclusion: “Grandmother” is the biggest obstacle we face when trying to assess those objects we inherit from our families. When going through your granny’s prized possessions, keep your mind ahead of your heart. In reality, your grandmother purchased her personal property during the first year of her married life. And that first year was probably spent the same way you spent your first year of marriage—with furnishings brought from home, “early attic” as we say today, and a few inexpensive manufactured pieces purchased from Sears Roebuck or the local furniture store.
Adapted from “What Grandmother Really Gave You,” by Emyl Jenkins, January 1983