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What Do Souvenirs Say About Us

Posted by Barbara Shaw on

I started my gift and souvenir business, as a result of looking for gifts for people , but not finding what I wanted and then making my own.

I’ve been thinking of souvenirs and why we feel compelled to buy and collect miniature Eifel towers and iconic I love NY t shirts and the like. What do the mementoes say about us?

I recently came across Rolf Potts delightful book The Souvenir. Where he also classifies different types of souvenirs. I’m sure you can relate.

  • 1.Shopping is a familiar activity in an an unfamiliar place, this gives us comfort
  • 2.Buying a memento is a way of capturing the moment – that is ephemeral . It is something to hold on to, despite moving on to another place.
  • 3.Souvenirs are an expression of worldliness and wealth, I’ve been here and there, I’m a person of the world and my mantel piece shows it.
  • 4.The significance of the souvenirs are reflections of the travelers identity. One traveler may go to Israel and buy religious objects , and other spices and another aprons from Barbara Shaw!
  • 5.Potts states” the objects we buy become part of our person history, a way of mythologizing our personal lives, even a personal language.

I tend to go for the quirky rather than the grand. In the store I see that customers seem to want to take part of the atmosphere, holiness and diversity of Jerusalem home. Like putting part of the city in their pocket to take home.

Some classify souvenirs into three basic categories

  • a.Markers – location branded products t shirts and hats
  • b.Pictorial images – Postcards, posters and magnets
  • c.And symbolic shorthand objects - The Western Wall, camels from the old city.

Increasingly souvenirs like everything else are becoming generic. If we look at where the Golden Gate pencil sharpener is made or the menorah, we can see it is often made in China or India. This mass manufacturing underscores the travelers desire to buy objects that have authenticity and cultural integrity. And are made in the place that they are sold. At Barbara Shaw we pride our selves in designing and manufacturing on the premises in The Jerusalem we love so dearly.