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Because Who Wants 300 Miniature Pianos!

Not you? Then read on. This one is for you!

There's a fear factor motivating some adult children to prematurely help - some more aggressively and/or cheerfully than others - their parents downsize, whether to downsize and literally move into a smaller home or downsize at home to more minimal possessions. The end goal for these adult children is sort of "Not it!" Do not send all that stuff to me. I don't have room for all my own stuff, never mind your stuff, too. 

The question for the parent in this scenario becomes one of legacy - will you leave a burden of stuff, or one of memories, rich with who you were in your lifetime, and who you were together, too? Shared now and shared later, maybe through these stories and memories you’ll help release people from holding onto so much stuff that the stuff becomes that burden the adult children fear, clouding the memories. 

A blue bowl and red handle thin metal spatula

Simple everyday objects, with meaning. But will you keep them always, or maybe just the memories?  

On that note, meet Sue, a member of the Arti Community. And not just any member. As she approaches her first anniversary with Artifcts, she is also our top Artifcter, surpassing even the founders of Artifcts who had a head start and a natural predilection for Artifcting. 

Who is Sue? If you search @Sue on Artifcts, you won't see a single Artifct. We did promise everyone that your Artifcts need not be made public. Everything is private by default, and Sue loves this freedom. 

Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin sat down with Sue to learn who she is, what she Artifcts, and most important of all why she Artifcts. It was such a treat to chat with an Arti Community member directly and a fascinating conversation. Enjoy! 


Ellen Goodwin: Hello Sue! We want to know all about you. Who are you, and what brought you to Artifcts? 

@Sue: I am a piano teacher. One of my personal collections is miniature pianos. I am also my family’s keeper and a genealogist. I have collections from both sets of grandparents, my parents, and of course my collections as well as my husband’s. This house is like a museum! Name anything, practically, and I probably have something of that. 

I keep wanting my daughter to come down to North Carolina and go over things with me. Find out what she wants, and what she’s not interested in so I can do something with it. But there’s never enough time. And my son-in-law really doesn’t want all this stuff. So he gave me Artifcts as a Christmas present last year. 

Sue shared this reality with grace and humor. Watch now!

Goodwin: What did you Artifct first? 

@Sue: Christmas ornaments! Well, all things Christmas, really. I have heirloom ornaments, multiple Santa Claus figurines, and other items, so before I packed them up last year, I Artifcted them.  

Goodwin: And then you continued Articting, focusing on collections or at random? 

@Sue: As I have bits of time here and there, I have just started. No particular order. Just what my eyes light on in a moment in time. Sometimes Artifct collections. I laid out all my jewelry one day and enjoyed working my way through it, sometimes Articting pieces individually, sometimes Artifcting collections, like brooches. 

Costume jewelry - rhinestone brooch

I have Artifcted my grandfather’s weapons collection as well, including antique knives, some of which date back to the late 1800s. My grandson caught sight of the knife collection, and was interested, so he’ll inherit them. His great grandfather’s collection!  

Goodwin: And we hope you’ll share the “why” behind this knife collection with your grandson, as well as the “why” of all of your own collections, like your pianos! 

@Sue: Piano has been a passion of mine for a long time. I found out recently through my genealogical research that my middle name Beth is for Beth of Little Women, the pianist of the family. I don’t remember who gave me my first miniature, but my mother kept adding to it, and then I did eventually, too. Each is very different. Now my senior graduating piano students get to choose one from the collection, a remembrance from me to take with them. I have only Artifcted the very unusual pianos, like one from ivory, another from Dresden. I am Artifcting the ones that are special so my daughter knows which are which.  

Read our story about gifting your loved ones a why > 

Goodwin: You told me that you Artifcted a collection of family bibles, nearly a dozen. I’m curious. What’s next for them?  

@Sue: I inherited 40 boxes of heirlooms, pictures and genealogy papers, which I am still going through. These bibles were among the boxes and now sit in the open air on top of a family cabinet in my genealogy research room.  I love the Cheatham Apocrypha Bible in particular, so that is the one I’ll definitely keep. It’s also the only one that still has the family pages in it. As for the rest, I don’t know what to do with them. I might see if the state genealogy archives wants them.

Goodwin: You have 100s of Artifcts. Are there some really marvelous stories among them that stand out? 

@Sue: Yes! Well, it’s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I was really surprised to find a lock of Gertrude’s hair. Oh, and great grandfather’s bowler hat. That’s an heirloom with a great story. 

A lock of hair tied with a blue ribbon

@Sue: "I found this in one of the boxes that I inherited (all genealogy based).
With it was a card signed by Gertrude which probably dates to the same year, 1904.
Gertrude Cheatham married August Johnston 24 Apr 1905." 

Bowler hat in hat box, padded with fox scarf

@Sue: This hat belonged to John Mortimer Cheatham who lived in Missouri his whole life (1843-1915).
The hat box is signed by Eugene Scherman of New York, so I imagine this is who made the hat.
Today, Grandmother Gertrude's fox lives with the hat. 
Even co-founder Ellen Goodwin discovered a lock of hair her mother squirreled away. Read her humorous take on it. > 

Goodwin: How do you Artifct? Do you use the app, a tablet, both?

@Sue: I take the pictures on my phone, because it allows me to skip the step of transferring the photos from my nice camera to my computer. If I want to add more details or long stories, then I edit the Artifcts later on my desktop computer. 

Goodwin: Have you tried new features as Artifcts has announced them? 

@Sue: There is so much I haven’t fully taken advantage of yet, but I did recently ask for my first estimate from Heritage Auctions with your “What’s it worth?” feature. It was a set of four meerschaum smoking pipes. Each used. They had significant market value! 

a set of four meerschaum smoking pipes

My daughter and extended family will inherit the items they wish to keep; she can always sell the remaining items. I think it’s important, however, to keep at least some of these things in the family—especially the older things. Maybe someone will choose the pipes. 

Goodwin: As the co-founder of Artifcts, I'd be remiss not to ask ... What would you tell those who have yet to Artifct? Why should they do it?

@Sue: Watch and listen to her response! (Or read below.)

It’s mainly the stories about the stuff. Nobody else is going to know what it is. I am trying so hard to get them written down and on Artifcts with the pictures, too, because otherwise once I’m gone, the story is gone. I think it’s important for the children to know what was the most important to me, what meant the most to me, and why.  

Now, they may not want to keep it, but if it’s Artifcted, it’s there FOREVER. So, they will always have that memory even though they may not have that item, because who wants 300 miniature pianos?! 

And on that note, what's your equivalent of "300 miniature pianos?"

Happy Artifcting!


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Chasing Histories Can Be Exhausting and So Worthwhile

Today we are inviting you to delve into the world of Artifcts with us through what we fondly refer to as “chasing histories.” What we mean is chasing the details about objects that pass through our lives. Why would we do this?  Because we suspect they should have meaning and value if someone has chosen to hold onto them and yet no one you talk with seems clear on the details. The keepers of these objects have lost the thread of the histories behind them.  

And these lost histories leave us, the keepers, to wonder – do we even keep the thing? Why not sell, donate, or rehome it instead? One may think, “It has to go, because I have a small home, it’s ugly, it smells funny, it’s something I don’t want, …” unless maybe you give me a good reason! 


In a period of history when story is king, we still somehow find we have a lot of stuff and relatively little meaning to go with it. We’re stuck chasing histories to bring back heritage and bring forward memories.  

As you might imagine, the Arti Community has done a lot of history chasing since Artifcts was launched last year, so we thought we would introduce the idea of chasing histories with a few of our own. We hope to inspire you along the way to Artifct those histories now—the ones you know, the ones you are creating daily—to avoid the potential pain, uncertainty, and loss later. And we certainly hope that you have fun doing it.  

The gold watch was in a bin of pegs. 

This was my mother's watch. I found it cleaning out one of the spare bedrooms. It was buried in a box with the old wooden pegs we used to have/use to hang plant baskets. We can't remember her ever wearing the watch. Read more >

Vintage gold Cyma watch with sapphire dial     Mixed collection of family silver

Click either image above to view the related Artifct.

But where did this silver come from?

A well worn jumble, seldom polished nowadays. And, I love it. Just think of all the family members whose hands have touched these through the years. Read on >

This brooch is so special.

So special that we know almost nothing about other than the aunts each wore it on their wedding days. Where did my grandmother get this brooch from? And when and why was it made? I tried all my aunts. I tried reaching out to my grandmother's sister through a cousin, but no luck yet. Read on >

Antique gold brooch with small inset pearls     Old bible in German with damaged cover

Click either image above to view the related Artifct.

Why, yes, my bible is shedding. 

My siblings and I have a lot of questions but few answers with these Bibles. We weren’t overly religious growing up, so imagine our surprise finding them on a bookshelf in the garage, nearly adjacent to a set of golf clubs and a snowblower. And one is in German. If only we knew. Read more >

Go get your histories! And happy Artifcting.


 Maybe you see a bit of yourself and your family in these stories?

We'd love to hear from you at We may feature your experience in a future story here on ARTIcles.

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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She's the Last of Her Generation

I had to go say hello. I've never known her! 

My Great Aunt Muriel is 97 years old and has spent roughly 75 years of her life in Tucson, AZ. For the record (and in my defense), I grew up in Wisconsin. We weren't exactly neighbors. 

This visit to Great Aunt Muriel was born out of curiosity, frustration, and fear. 

To me, she's somewhat of a legend. I've heard my parents talk in awe of her in recent years, remarking on her independence and mental sharpness. Others told me she is feisty and opinionated. I was curious. I also kept thinking, "You do know that I think I missed my calling as a lawyer, right?" I bet she and I will get along just fine! 

My frustration was about how difficult it is to gather and preserve family history without it being your primary occupation or hobby. Chasing histories, I call it. And I'm not talking about black and white details that sit in databases behind paywalls of newspapers and genealogy sites. I'm talking about the stories that connect those details - the lives lived, the legends created, the humanity of it all. Within my own family I heard drips and drops about distant relatives going off in the gold rush, for example. Who were they? When did they go? What became of them? Any details at all or am I really just stuck with family lore?  

And, of course, fear - Aunt Muriel's now an only. She's the last of her generation. My cousin put it into interesting perspective, "Just think, she's the last who knew our parents as infants!" Time is absolutely our enemy if I want to know her and to know pieces of the family's past. If I wanted her insights and advice, her laugh-out-loud replays of historical moments, the only time was now. 

If you stop reading here and venture like Alice down the rabbit hole of Artifcts we created together and are featured below, let me tell you what you'll discover from these Artifcts: This woman was radically more than advertised. I hope you have a Great Aunt Muriel in your life. Go. See. Her. Today! And listen, a lot. 


Click any image below to view the related Artifct.Muriel Wilson with her parents at the RV in Tucson, Arizona

Paper register and tickets for fuel rations1st Prize Old Tucson Square Dance copper medal


When I arrived in Tucson, Great Aunt Muriel was prepared. She had photos and mementos, stories and family lore, all ready to share. And with her permission, I'm sharing a few of those Artifcts we created together with you. Of the many worries Great Aunt Muriel had for the future, lost connection and family bonding was clearly chief among them. Let these Artifcts inspire your own conversations with loved ones. 

You could say this was time well spent. Well spent visiting. Well spent Artifcting. 


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Grandma's Secret, Not-So-Secret Coin Collection

Sometimes collections sneak up on you. You may not realize it as you browse through tin spoons in a souvenir shop, or rummage through stamps at a yard sale. Yet, when you get back home, you might realize as you go to put your newfound treasures away, wow, I have a lot of those spoons, stamps, you name it!  

This is the story of  @Grandmom, and her secret-not-so-secret coin collection.  

Grandmom never set out to collect coins per se. She's a world traveler, and enjoys bartering in local markets, from Kathmandu to Liberia. Grandmom has always found that she can get a great deal if she offers to toss in an American coin or two. And, when she’s lucky, she gets back local coins and currencies.  

Forty years and just as many (if not more) countries later, Grandmom has quite a coin collection. Not just a couple of bowls of coins by her bedside table. Nope, we’re talking bins and bins of coins and currencies from all over the world. Some date back to the 1800s!  

Forty years and just as many (if not more) countries later, Grandmom has quite a coin collection

The funny thing is, she never explicitly told anyone about it. Her grown sons vaguely recall, “Yeah, she might have had a coin collection.” Her grandkids had no clue either. Imagine our surprise one Sunday afternoon when she pulled out the bins (and bins) of coins and asked for help to identify a couple of her favorites as she can no longer remember when or where she got them, “It was so long ago.” 

Got a secret-not-so-secret collection on your hands? Don’t know where to start? Grandmom’s got a couple of tips to share when going through collections that may have snuck up on you over time.  

  1. Start with your favorites. Which ones do you like the most? What can you remember about them? Don’t worry if you can’t remember everything. You can always go back and add more details later. This is one of Grandmom’s favorite coins 
  2. Are there any unique pieces that you think others should know about? Grandmom has all the stories in her head, but she’s started to Artifct some of the more unique pieces of her collection to make sure that her family knows the details, like these Victory nickels 
  3. Pair travel photos with coins from that location to tell the story. It’s a great way to connect the “what” (the coin) with the experience (the trip, the memories). Can’t remember the exact details? Knowing just the trip and some of your favorite memories from that trip is easily enough to tell the story and connect the dots.  

Have a surprise collection to share? We’d love to feature you! Reach out to us at 

Happy Artifcting! 


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Did You Know Great Grandpa was an Inventor?

From the ages of five to nine, little Nancy lived in the farm country of Missouri on a parcel of land with a house, corn bin, smoking shed, and barn all built by her grandpa. Life for her grandfather had been simple by today's standards. If he needed something, and it wasn’t easily accessible from the farm, he built it. If only we were all so resourceful!

Some of the artifacts of his life speak directly to the resourcefulness of this everyday inventor. The screwdriver does not fit well in your hand? I’ll make a new handle. The meat needs efficient parceling in the smokehouse? Here’s a one-of-a-kind twine winder. The cabbage shredding makes a mess of the kitchen during each batch of kraut making? Here’s new tray to contain and slice it. Check out the Artifct  Inventions of the Everyday Inventor. >
The biggest tale Nancy grew up hearing was how her grandparents were the first in the area to have electrical power and running water. Her grandfather had installed the wiring and plumbing on the farmstead himself. Of course he did.

The tale no one thought to share was that Grandpa was not just an everyday inventor. Documents show that Stark W. Craddock held patent #1,418,778 for the “Permutation Lock,” issued on June 6, 1921, by the US Patent Office. He truly was an inventor even in the professional sense. “But never mind that,” he’d surely have said.

patent page 1 of Start W Craddock permutation lockPage 1 of Stark W. Craddock's patent for the Permutation Lock. Click to view the Artifct.

This history had faded from Nancy’s family lore. In some ways it was a sad tale, too, which may have been partly to blame. Nancy’s mother grew up following her father around, talking through his projects and processes with him. But back in the 1940s, little girls could not grow up to be engineers. No. So when her little brother Jr. eventually came along, it was he who trailed after their father and grew up to be an engineer for IBM.original colorized photo of Craddock family c. 1930


Stark Craddock family, Missouri, c. 1930. Click to view the Artifct.

Fast forward to the present day and the discovery, “Great Grandpa was an inventor!” It was when his great grandson Andy was pursuing his own inventor's path that he uncovered his great grandfather’s and layered in another piece of family history for all the generations to share.
Maybe you have an inventor in your family’s past. Maybe you have an artist, an explorer, a historian, a solider. You will never know until or unless you ask.
Happy Artifcting!


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Let's Talk Photo Negatives and VHS Tapes

When was the last time you pulled out that box of photo negatives, or rifled through your family’s vintage home video collection? If you’re anything like me, the answer could even be never. Yet, I haven't had the heart to toss any of them out.

Over the last 20 years, I have carted around from state to state, house to house, a plastic bin full of film negatives and VHS tapes with family home videos my parents took with the original giant camcorders that you propped on your shoulder. I realized some of them were testing their lifespans. Tapes degrade, first getting dark, then with the color shifting and bleeding. If you were lucky and chose high-end tapes, you might have bought yourself a bit of time but don't count on it. The audio may be the best of what remains on those tapes. Negatives are the same story, especially when stored in their original packaging.


drawer full of old VHS tape with a few home videos in the mix(Above) A few home videos lost in the mix of old VHS tapes where no one has a hope of viewing them.
(Below) A plastic bin with what turned out to be more than 1,400 photo negatives.
plastic rubbermaid bin full of photo negatives in original paper

Enough was finally enough. I wanted to reclaim every last bit of space in my limited closets, protect my negatives and tapes from complete loss, and share the results easily with friends and family. Decision made, I dropped off my collection at the offices of preservation and digitization specialist Monocurate. (Yes, I'm lucky, no shipping required!)

Why are you choosing to digitize?

Actually, back up. Before I dropped off the negatives and VHS tapes, I casually looked through the negatives. Glad I did! A quick review helped me come to terms with what I wanted out of this digitization work. Why bother with digitization?

Cost. At between $0.40 and $1 per negative (usually according to volume) for basic digitization, it can cost a small fortune to digitize an entire collection! Just think, I only had a 3.5 x 12.5 bin of negatives, organized inside the original envelopes the processor returned them to me in. What if my parents wanted to digitize their boxes, boxes, and still more boxes of negatives?

Relevance. Then there’s the fact that somewhere in the mix was old boyfriends. I did not want to pay to digitize every part of my history. Some history is better left to faded memory. I tried to quickly hold up the negatives to the light and remove those from the collection.

Quality. To top it all off, many photos frankly weren't even very good, because they were blurry, too dark, etc.

Well, I already told you, I brought the negatives to Monocurate anyway. I simply decided that the investment was worth the couple dozen or so digitized photos buried in the collection that would be worth their weight in sentimental gold. Within two days I had an itemized estimate. It detailed my options for digitized formats along with all the other lovely details about what to expect. I was shocked by how many negatives were in my very small bin once Monocurate itemized them. I confirmed I was ready to digitize the negatives and home videos, signed the digital contract, and let the wait begin.

The Results

Before I even looked through the photos, I jumped directly into the videos. I knew that 30+ years was too long to expect much.

The results were still exciting. Seeing yourself as a kid. Seeing your siblings and parents from your now adult perspective. Seeing family members who are no longer with you and hearing their familiar voices. Or learning, "So, that's when I got that special doll!" Or, "Ha! The truth about what I thought of my first day of kindergarten." I don't even have that on video for my own daughter. And that was actually the key for me. It was really interesting to see which moments my parents each chose to videotape, from the ordinary of hauling wood, painting the house, feeding the sheep, and playing with our outdoor cats and dogs to the special, like when family would visit from Illinois, there was enough snow for cross-country skiing in the yard and sledding in town, and Christmas holidays.

Then, the photos. With the videos I was ready for the feeling that technology has changed. The photos took me by surprise. I wasn't thinking about how much less crisp and life like they would be compared to modern digital-native photos. My hopes for a few worth their weight in sentimental gold, however, was met. Kodak moments from ages 16 to 26, digitized.

Beyond the obvious rewards of having these videos and photos digitized as I'd hoped, I learned a lot in this process about understanding my motivations, as already described above and the ins and outs of selecting the right company to bring my media to for digitization. Here's my parting gift to you all in the form of a few quick tips if you are considering digitization.


Before you Digitize

Avoid disappointment when digitizing negatives and tapes by getting clarity on each of the following four points before you hand over this sentimental gold.

1. Find out the digitized formats and resolutions your files will be provided in. Avoid proprietary formats. Guidelines from Monocurate:

Photo negatives. Look for .JPG or .JPG2 files at 72-300 DPI resolution (depending on the use case). If you want .TIFF format (at 600+ DPI) for any reason, who knows, maybe you're putting up a billboard, make sure you ask!

VHS tapes. The goal here is avoiding a result that is squished, stretched, or fuzzy, coloring that is not calibrated to look like the original, and has audio missing or not synced. (Many companies will not even digitize sound on film and may not warn you in advance!) So, look for high resolution, high bitrate, no/minimal compression, with audio sync. Your new VHS files should be around 352x480 resolution; S-VHS will be around 704x480 resolution (same as hi8). You can't really convert VHS to HD, much less 4k, with current technology, so watch out for claims in that regard.

It's worth repeating: Know that you may be too late and the video image quality will be so deteriorated that the sound quality is the best of what remains. Is it still worthwhile to digitize? Only you can make that judgement call.

2. Do you want the originals returned?

Be sure to confirm they will be returned if you want them and the cost, if any, to you for shipping or local delivery.

3. Where will the work be done and by whom?

Is digitization performed onsite or shipped out (with some additional risk of loss)? Are the personal devices of employees and visitors to the facility kept outside the work area? No one wants their private videos or photos leaked.

4. Do you want basic digitization of your media "as is," or do you need organization and touch up, too?

If the negatives are jumbled mess, do you need them organized and an index created? Do you want to first have dust build-up, grime, etc. removed to capture a clean copy? Archival indices and preservation are not typically the work of big box digitizers. If you think your collection needs some love, look for preservation and archival specialists who offer digitization services, like Monocurate, who is a member of the Artifcts partner network


Consumer warning: By going through the process to digitize personal negatives and VHS videos, we were disappointed repeatedly by the fine print and general lack of detailed information of some popular, mainstream online digitization services companies. Read the fine print. Check reviews and FAQs. Know what is important to you and make sure the services match your expectations. If you have any doubt, write and ask questions before you send off your materials for digitization.


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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