Today’s Project: Family Keepsake Letterpress Drawer

When I was growing up, my mom bought an antique letterpress drawer one day. She used it to glue in keepsakes from across our family’s history. It still hangs on the wall in her house, and I always thought it was a really good idea. So back in around 2008, I bought one of my own at an auction. It was already equipped with a glass cover and hooks to hang it on the wall, so it was pretty much good to go right off the bat.

Since then, we’ve been buying small keepsakes from whatever trips we go on as a family. Souvenirs that would fit into one of the compartments in the drawer. We’ve got pins from Niagara Falls and Nauvoo and London, keychains from Paris and Hershey, a small stained glass owl from Krakow. That sort of thing. We’ve also held onto things that would fit from our family’s history. For example, a few of Ferris’s puppy teeth.

It’s worked out very well, with one serious flaw: any time you bumped the cabinet, all the pieces would fall out.

Now, this wasn’t a really big problem, because it’s on the wall, and so it generally didn’t get bumped. However, it was to the point where even opening it up to add something new risked having it all come Jenga-ing down on you, so we were stacking new things on top of the cabinet instead of putting them on display. (Not nearly as effective for the supposed purpose.) Plus, we had begun to run out of room for new items.

For two or three years, it’s been on my list to hot glue the items in place (something my mom did right away with hers). But it never really rose very high on the list, and so it didn’t get done. Tuesday, I fixed that. I took the drawer down, took out all the items, separated out the ones we couldn’t remember what they went with (there were a lot of “keepsake rocks” my kids had compiled over the years), and glued into place the rest.

It was fun going through all of them and remembering where we got them, and the finished product looks much, much better. Now I’m going through and making a guide for the display, so other people can easily see what we got where and when. (Nothing a few hours with Excel can’t solve!)

Anyway. I’ve always been pleased with it, and no more so than now that it’s all neat and orderly. It makes getting souvenirs both cheaper and easier, and we actually have a spot to put them all and remember them, rather than sticking something on a shelf somewhere and dusting it every week. If you’re looking for a way to keep your family’s memories in some sort of order, I heartily recommend this one.

Sorry about the glare, but you get the idea.


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