Gift Ideas for the Family Historian

Christmas Gift Ideas for Historical Buffs

When considering Christmas gifts it may be felt that family historians are difficult to buy for, whether they are academics or hobbyist. A little, thoughtful consideration to the specialty of the family historian, however, can result in a gift that will be treasured for years. The following suggestions for presents with a historical twist may brighten up their Christmas substantially.

Primary Historical Material as Xmas Gift

For avid historians there is nothing more exciting than to see and handle a primary source. A primary source is an object or artefact which originated in history. This could be anything from a household object, coin or newspaper to a book or novel written in the period. Whatever the history discipline, buying a primary source gift does not always have to be an expensive undertaking.

For a start, consideration can be given to internet auction sites, such as eBay, for sourcing original items of history. It’s surprising how inexpensive some of these items can be. For example, coins or stamps from the historical period of interest can be a fantastic gift and often purchased for no more than pennies on auction sites, which leaves some money for an extravagant display box or frame.

Alternatively, of course, live auctions can be another great source for original gifts from particular eras in history. Also they are a wonderful way to find the bizarre or unusual, as very often it is difficult to judge what is to be sold by catalogue description only. For example a catalogue description may merely state “Box of 19th Century bric a brac” but inspection on the day of auction can reveal some wonderful or bizarre antiquities.

Some Suggestions for Original Gifts for Historians

The following short list gives some ideas for gifts:

  • Books from the period of history being studied, 1st editions can be picked up within a certain budget
  • Novels from the period are a great source of cultural looks at the time period
  • Maps
  • Diaries
  • Pictures, originals from the period are wonderful for analysis
  • Newspapers – Media such as the Times often have online archives dating back hundreds of years
  • Coins
  • Jewelry
  • Ornaments
  • Medals
  • Stamps
  • Match Balls or memorabilia for Sports Historians
  • Legal Statutes or laws
  • Wills
  • Certificates of births, deaths and marriages

Certainly analysing and handling primary sources can give the greatest of thrills to the avid historian and a thoughtful gift will prove a pleasure for many years.

Individual Visits to Museums or Subscriptions to History or Geographical Societies

Contacting a local museum can also be a novel idea for an inexpensive or even free Christmas gift. Museums do not display all of their treasures and artefacts and it may be possible to arrange independent viewings or visits to their archived stores. Curators are often most welcoming to history enthusiasts and prepared to spend time discussing artefacts.

Purchasing membership to a national historical or geographical society often brings the associated benefit of access to archives and primary sources. Although many of the older and more fragile documents will have been scanned for protection, there should still be a large number of journals, books and artefacts dating back centuries to be viewed.

The above suggestions are just a start for areas to research when buying an individual gift for a historian. Hopefully, a history-related Christmas present will be appreciated and treasured for years to come and, of course, may increase substantially in value too.

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