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January 24, 2014

Tips For Having Family Heirlooms Restored

Most families have special items they have passed through the generations. Some are valuable antiques, while others are family artifacts from moments in history. Sometimes we proudly display these items in the home, but more often, we merely store them away, unsure what exactly to do with them. Then, when we’re cleaning out the attic—whether to find items to sell at the garage sale or to help downsizing efforts—we find them again and wonder, “Should I throw this out, or is it worth restoring?”

To help you determine whether you should have a family heirloom restored, we’ve compiled a few top considerations:

When Should I Consider Restoring a Family Heirloom?

Investment value: Some family heirlooms—clocks, jewelry, paintings, pottery, and even bikes and automobiles, for example—can be valuable collectibles and antiques. Even if you never plan to sell these items, it may be worth the investment of restoring family heirlooms to increase their value and help preserve them as they age.

Check with a qualified appraiser before you decide if it’s worth getting a family heirloom professionally restored. Ask the appraiser about the item’s current value, as well as what it could be worth if restored. Then, find out from a professional art restoration specialist, jeweler, or mechanic how much it might cost to get your heirloom back in tip-top condition. This should help you decide whether it’s worth having the heirloom restored. Work only with professionals when having items restored—a botched restoration job could actually decrease the value of your family heirloom.  

Emotional value: Just because something is old doesn’t it make it valuable—at least not when it comes to monetary value. Family heirlooms are often merely sentimental items that belonged to a special ancestor, so restoring them won’t return high profits if you plan to sell. However, these items can be worth preserving or restoring for the enjoyment of future generations. Having a sentimental family heirloom restored can make for a very special gift for your children or grandchildren when the time comes.

When Should I NOT Have a Family Heirloom Restored?

Decreased Value: Some antiques, especially old weapons like guns and knives, are actually more valuable if they haven’t been cleaned. That’s why it’s important never to try a home restoration job on something like a Civil War era firearm (unless, of course, you’re a professional). It’s easy to unwittingly damage or degrade the value of your heirloom. Antique firearms should be dusted occasionally with a soft cloth and kept in a safe, low-moisture environment. If the item has already been damaged by a natural disaster or years of neglect, it might be worth taking it to an antique firearm restoration specialist to see if it can be salvaged.

Need help determining which items aren’t worth keeping when downsizing? See the free guide “Top 10 Downsizing Survival Tips!”

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