The Oldest Thing in My House #1

Picking up a comment thread in the last post, I thought I would find the oldest things in my house. (I’m waiting around for edits on a draft and don’t feel like starting anything new until next week. It’s the Gig Worker’s prerogative.) We’ll do our own Antique Roadshow here at Apt. 11D for a couple of days.

A couple of weeks ago, I unpacked my grandmother’s old sewing machine from its box in the basement and decided to display it somewhere in the house. It’s kinda cool. Check out the beautiful scroll work.

I actually had no idea how old it was until a few minutes ago. It’s from the 1940s, which means it’s probably not the oldest thing in my house, but it’s still cool.

My grandmother used it, until she died about fifteen years ago. In fact, I used it ten years ago for some project or another. It still works great.

More to come.

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18 thoughts on “The Oldest Thing in My House #1

  1. We have a Polish/Eastern European black Madonna icon from my husband’s family that is probably at least 19th century, but I’m not sure.

    We’ve moved a lot and lived far from family, so don’t have a lot of old family stuff. However, my grandparents did send me some paintings a couple years ago that I am very happy to have. The artist was a neighbor and friend of my family when I was a kid. I have a big painting of flying ducks (super WASP-y!) that my grandparents had over their fireplace and now hangs over mine. I also have a set of miniatures (a couple paintings and a couple prints) that used to hang in my grandma’s kitchen and now hangs in mine.

    It’s a very nice feeling of continuity.

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  2. I have a hope chest that dates to at least 1823 as that is when the woman it originally belonged to got married. It came to me from a cousin of my Dad. When she went to hospice, she called him to come get the chest and a carnelian brooch (age unknown) for me, and a Kentucky long rifle (18th century) and a plains rifle (19th century) for him. He gave the rifles to a cousin of mine who displays them above his field stone fireplace. They look right there.

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    1. None of it is worth much. The chest had had casters added at point – thankfully- it is massive. And the rifles had been modified over the years.

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  3. My wife’s grandfather, before he fled Vienna, was an antiquarian, and we have a couple of books from the late 1600s, and a painting (not very good) from the same period. Now, how he got himself, wife, two children, and household goods out of Vienna in 1938 – that is a story.

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    1. “a painting (not very good) from the same period.”

      There’s a painting in the extended family of a naked lady on a rock on a storm-tossed seashore that both my husband and I are eager not to have to provide a home to.

      (I’m starting to wonder if she’s supposed to be Andromeda.)

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  4. I think the piano must be the oldest thing we own. I looked into it when we bought it, and I seem to remember it being 70 years old then (20 years ago). Interesting. We used to have an old sewing machine like that, but I prefer the Bernina, circa 1965…

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  5. It’s probably cheating to count it, but the oldest thing in our house is probably the fossils we’ve collected from nearby stream beds, so Cretaceous Period.

    I suspect the oldest man-made thing is a “teething half” — a silver half-dollar with a hole drilled through it, which was used by my grandmother and her siblings, and by her own mother and her siblings immediately after the Civil War. The coin is dated 1838, but I really only count it as 1870s, since the significance is domestic, not numismatic.

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      1. Yes — apparently the hole drilled in the coin was for a ribbon or a string to keep the child from swallowing the coin, and the “teething half” was used like a modern teething ring.

        I have a little trouble understanding how you keep a baby from swallowing a quarter-sized coin in such an arrangement. Perhaps a stick was used instead of a string?

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  6. At one point we owned a colonial era table that had been made into a very uncomfortable settee, through the addition of horsehair stuffing. It probably came over on the Ship Anne. I suckered a cousin into taking it. My father has the sword an ancestor carried during the Revolutionary War. My aunt has a spinning wheel in her attic.

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    1. This isn’t old old stuff, but my grandpa “acquired” a large Nazi flag, a German officer’s sword, a nice German camera, and a rather improbable quantity of Nazi uniform patches as a WWII infantry medic.

      Let us not spend too much time contemplating exactly what went into amassing the uniform patch collection…

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