09 August 2008
I've been noticing lately, it seems that "heirloom" is popping up everywhere.
There are heirloom vegetables, of course. The tasty varieties of tomatoes your grandparents grew up on, instead of the red/orange globes that taste like nothing.
Then I noticed a store selling "heirloom sewing supplies".
Some dictionary defines "heirloom" as
A valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations.
I read that, and I'm glad to see a resurgence of heirloominess. We surely go through "retro" ages, but that's more about fashion than values. Retro pants, retro hair, retro music.
Vintage seems like a half-way point between "retro" and "heirloom". Maybe. Or maybe "vintage" is just "retro" with a longer time-horizon. The 1960s are retro. The 1920s are vintage.
But "heirloom" points to a valued possession (or craft) that has been kept up with through the generations, like a spoken history. Something we've reflected upon and decide it's worthwhile to keep alive. Retro/vintage is more about looking back and cherry-picking something to bring back to life, if just for a little while.
"Ye Olde" on the other hand, is just kitsch. Anyone who owns a Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe needs to be locked in Ye Olde Town Stocks for a fortnight.