The Houstory Hearth Herd – July 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book
Connect with me on LinkedIn!

I’m curious: Were you born before 1946? In other words, are you a “pre-Baby Boomer?”

During the past few years, there have been an array of reports that have attempted to grasp how much wealth pre-baby boomers — those born before 1946 — are going to pass down to their kids and grandkids.

While all agree the number will set a new record for “intergenerational transfers,” the estimates are surprisingly varied, ranging from $25 trillion to $136 trillion according to one study.

Chances are, if you are in that pre-’46 demographic, you are not only passing down money, but also valuable possessions — including family heirlooms. And if you are not passing them down, you may be — gasp! — trying to sell them for a profit, or simply giving them away.

This month, I’ve included a link to a radio interview that discusses how challenging the market for selling and even giving away old furniture has become.

Now, I’d like to present my case for how The Heirloom Registry can help increase your odds of successfully parting with your treasured — but now unneeded — older furniture.

* Imagine a future Saturday spent antiquing with a friend or spouse. You are looking for a table. You see three tables, all essentially of the same look and quality. But one has an Heirloom Registry ID tag. You pull out your smart phone (or simply jot down the ID number), go to and pull up the story behind the table. In a few seconds, you see this particular table was owned by a family in Central Texas that used to invite single war veterans over for Sunday dinner during the early ’50s. After eating dinner on this very table, they would often play cards, the registration says, “well into the night.” In fact, I don’t have to imagine: That is the story behind our table. And, after I spoke to the owner we bought it from, it’s all documented. If I had pressed (and I probably should have), perhaps the owner could have provided a black and white photo of the table — circa early 1950s — showing one of these gatherings. Perhaps with some of the people in the photo identified. It took me under 15 minutes to permanently tell the story of my table, which now includes a couple sentences — and a 2011 photo — about how it made its way to Oregon with my wife and I.  As you look at my future table on consignment in some future antique store full of people that care about history do you think my table — which otherwise looks just like the others — might have an edge? I’ll let you answer. 🙂

With that said, I know not everyone cares for stories. In fact, I’d say most people don’t. But for the few that “get it,” it makes a big difference. I’m guessing you care, or you probably wouldn’t still be reading.

Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet


Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleCityLove: Meet Seattle

Herd-Worthy Because: Just showing my hometown some love. I’ve got a lot of pride in the Emerald City. This just gives me another reason. “Seattle really is green…Thinking about green in a preservation context, Seattle also has some great examples of medium- and large-scale adaptive reuse.” Oh, and “Go Hawks!”



Author: NPR’s Tell Me More

TitleIn a Tough Market for Old Furniture, Manage Your Expectations

Herd-Worthy Because: Hmmm, so it’s tough to sell your old furniture? And you need every advantage you can get to make it special? Sounds like a job for The Heirloom Registry. If people know the stories behind your items, that may be the difference bringing home the green or not.


Author: Monsters & Critics

TitleBob Dylan’s Musical Keepsakes Worth Millions

Herd-Worthy Because: The answer, my friend, is somewhere underneath your bed. Or maybe stuffed into the closet. Perhaps the attic?


Author: The Smithsonian

TitleThe Descendants of Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Donate Family Heirlooms to the Smithsonian

Herd-Worthy Because: Apparently, some pretty amazing Civil War-era objects spent about 100 years in an attic. And now, their storied past will give them a new life in a very public space. Umm…cool.


Author: (Alabama)

TitleIdeas for Heirlooms: Wedding planners offer unique ways to incorporate something old into your big day

Herd-Worthy Because: For anyone who loves family heirlooms and is planning for that special day…


Author: The Huffington Post

TitleA Dying Man’s Touching Farewell

Herd-Worthy Because:  A man, dying of cancer, sends a farewell e-mail to friends and family as he tries to get his affairs in order. As someone who believes very strongly in living obits, and taking care of family heirloom designations and stories while you are still alive, this story struck me. Find out what happened.


Author: NPR’s The Takeaway

Title: Student Pallbearers Serve the Underprivileged

Herd-Worthy Because: “Burying the dead, these students learn that every person is worthy of dignity and care, a lesson that makes them more conscious of how they treat the living.” In our opinion, dignity starts with story. And every person has a story.


Author: Dick Eastman

TitleHow They Made Books in 1947”

Herd-Worthy Because: This video reminds me of the process we use for the Home History Book. What can we say?We like well-made books.


Author: Dick Eastman

TitleUSGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer

Herd-Worthy Because: If genealogy guru Dick Eastman says,” This has to be one of the best tools I have seen for finding old maps,” then we in the Houstory Nation are paying attention. Sounds like a great tool for house history, eh?


Referrer: Megan Smolenyak

TitleBBC’s The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window of Britain’s past

Herd-Worthy Because: Here is the synopsis of this BBC series: “Whether exploring London or Scotland, the series does an incredible job of connecting people to places, of teasing out emotions from architecture, of reminding us that buildings and streets are the locations for our own happiest and saddest moments.” Sometimes, I wish I had cable. Or, more specifically, the BBC. One of our favorite UK architectural historians, Melanie Backe-Hansen, is also mentioned prominently in the article.


Until we “Herd” again…