Years ago I inherited a box of my grandfather's childhood memorabilia. I would find myself sifting through it every other year or so looking at each item inside and wondering what it's significance was. Old uniform patches from Boy Scouts and the military, a rusted compass, an old silver caliper... it always felt like a shame to place everything back in the antique wooden box with the beautiful dovetailed sides and tuck it away again until I remembered it was there a few years later.
A while back I decided it was time to use some of these items in our home. I layered the old compass in front of a frame on a shelf, then pulled out those old uniform patches. I hand sewed the old Boy Scout patches to a small denim remnant and framed it for our home office gallery wall. I liked it so much that I mounted the little black Coast Guard patch I found in there too and framed it as well. Not only was it a fast and easy way to display these treasures, but a great way to preserve the past.
This idea would also work well with the little trinkets and treasures readily found at thrift stores and flea markets. Some vintage textiles, old flags, banners...there's no end to the possibilities!