It seems strange that my treasure should be something bought from a stranger when my house is full of things that I have found or that have been made by friends, but I love this object. It is also strange that it is purely decorative, because I would normally say that I favour the functional. It hangs from a hook near my computer and is in my eyeline when I look towards the window and the sea.
We bought it from the museum of craft in Delhi eight years ago, where selected master crafts families live for a while demonstrating and selling their crafts. It is an object that could be kitsch, but is beautiful. It has six different trees on it, all with different leaves and seven different animals, an elephant, a camel, a rat, a donkey, a monkey a horse and a deer all roughly the same size, they are all bound in a very fine golden grass, I noticed a cobweb on it today and mistook it for a loose strand of grass. We carried it home on the plane carefully folding it into a plastic bag.
Twice a year when we measure our children against the wall, we take it down from the hook and lay it ceremonially on the sofa. If the house was on fire, I would grab it on my way out.
Alison Milner designer and author of ‘Inspirational Objects – a visual dictionary of simple elegant forms’, UK.
I found this while playing kick the can after a picnic in Ostia Antiqua near Rome in 1982. The handle was just lying in thick grass and I trod on it. Ostia is one of the oldest archeological sites in Italy and in those days very shambolic. I thought the handle needed rescuing, loved the warmth and colour of the clay and put in in my sock for the rest of the day. It has been on my desk for the past 30 years.
Richard, Entrepreneur, 54, London, UK.
See story in first comment – written from interview with Valerina, Artist, 80.
These tiny ivory mice were handed down to me by my grand-mother. It’s a miracle they have survived; she kept them secure in the china cabinet and I bought this pretty clock from an auction especially to accommodate them. It’s seems such a good place to keep the mice; Hickory, Dickery Dock! Although the thought of ivory-hunting is abhorrent, one has to admire the delicate carving of these little creatures (the largest is about the size of pea). My father collected clocks and I think he would have liked this one. All the ones he left me were stolen, so this one is an “honorary hand-me-down”.
Joanna, 67, Artist, Chiswick, London, UK.
As one of six children with a sensible mother who never bought anything but brown sandals for all her offspring I was pleased to be able to choose all my son’s shoes until he was of an age to complain and insist on trainers. My sister and I took him to Kensington High Street and spent a cheerful afternoon deciding on this model, with its decorative little train and smart gingham trim. As I trip over his vast Converse on my way to the bathroom every morning these days I’m glad I still have Joshua’s first shoe. It’s a daily reminder of a happy time when life was lived with a curious and very small boy at my side…..
Sheena, 53, Writer, Hammersmith, London.
This camera is by far my most precious of objects, and something that is very personal and dear to me. When I briefly lost my bag last month my main concern was not my phone, car keys, money or diary, but this little camera. It was handed down from my great aunt to my father, and from him to me, and the day he gave it to me I was overjoyed that he trusted me enough to have it. It was only last week that I realised just how much it means to me, when the shutter stopped working properly and I cried without hesitation. When I spoke to the repairwoman she said that it will probably cost more to fix than buying a new one would, but it is my irreplaceable treasure, something I have always hoped to be able to pass on to one of my children one day.
Saskia, 19, Student, Bristol, UK
Story 2. See first comment.
1000 Stella Artois bottle tops I collected over a month working at a bar a few weeks ago. I think I will never be able to throw them away because I made such a big deal of collecting them, everyone there was helping me and asking me what I was going to do with them, I still haven’t decided. Probably just keep them for a long time and look at them when I am 80 to remember when I was 19 and having a really exciting time.
Katharine, 19, student, London, UK.
This is my cannon ball from the time of Nelson, so, the early 19th century. I bought it from an antiques dealer years and years ago, but I will never sell it. It has little nobs of lead all over it to make it more effective when it hits something. Some of them are missing. Wear and tear I suppose. I love the idea that this cannon ball’s past is so much more dramatic than any human’s could be.
Valerina, 78, artist, London, UK.
This book was my mothers when she was a child, she probably read it about ten or fifteen times. When I was about six I started complaining about wanting to read “proper books”, I meant books with lots of writing and less pictures. So my mum gave me Heidi and I think I read it as many times as she had, in fact I remember hardly anything else from before I was seven than pulling that book off my top shelf and staying in bed all day with it eating buttered bread.
Pippa, Publisher, 28, London UK.