Things You Have Around Your Home That Could be Worth A Lot of Money
Declutter all you want, but be sure to double-check these things before you toss them.
Vinyl is back, baby! National events like the yearly Record Sale Day have hipsters and older people alike standing in line for special sales on limited release titles and sought after vintage vinyl. But it’s hard saying what your collection may be worth. “Some records won’t sell for more than 50 cents while coveted first pressings can command thousands of dollars,” says Dan Orkin, who manages the Reverb Price Guide. Currently, on the Reverb LP marketplace there is a 1956 self-titled Elvis Presley album listed for $105, while the Purple Rain album, by Prince, still in shrink wrap, is listed for $179. Check out 10 albums that are worth a fortune today. Plus: If you have any of these other antiques at home, you could be in for some cash.
That old arcade game that you dragged from your parent’s attic to your current house’s attic may be worth some change, even if it’s not working. According to Seth Peterson, co-founder and CEO of All You Can Arcade, a nonworking arcade game can still fetch a $100 to $400. Working games range from $600 to $2,500. Some titles are hotter than others right now. “Asteroids is an awesome title with high replayability and is worth $1,000,” says Peterson. “The value of Pong has quadrupled in the last four years and is approaching $2000.” This is how to spot hidden gems in antiques stores.
Those T-shirts you just couldn’t part with from your youth could be worth a whole lot more than you originally paid for them. “Concert, advertising, and shirts with a cool scene are all the rage,” says Reyne Hirsch, long-time appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow. A Prince T-shirt on Poshmark recently sold for $380 and a 1990s Mario Brothers Nintendo 64 Game T-shirt sold for $150.
You begged for them, saved up your allowance, and babysat for endless evenings in order to buy those coveted Air Jordans. Was it worth it? Hirsch says you could have a slam dunk of cash in your soles. “Early Air Jordan sneakers can sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on which model and the condition.” Having trouble storing shoes? Try one of these shoe storage solutions.
Lovers of vinyl need something to spin their tunes on so they could be anxious to get your old turntable. “Stereo equipment has recently been selling quite well online, especially vintage turntables and stereo receivers,” says Orkin. Check out online sources like Reverb or eBay to see what similar turntables have sold for if you want to part with yours.
1980s and 1990s furniture
We’ve seen the return of mid-century modern in interior design but it could be on its way out. “What is starting to come into favor is furniture from the 1980s and 1990s,” says Hirsch. “Styles we remember from our childhood are the first things we gravitate towards when we go to furnish our own homes. It’s all about nostalgia,” says Hirsch. Here are some other hidden treasures that could be in your attic right now.
Also known as American Sweetheart, depression glass is something to be happy about. Some patterns and colors are more desirable than others, so if you have a rare color or pattern it could be very valuable; the American Sweetheart pattern is especially valuable in ruby red or cobalt blue, says Hirsch. You can expect to fetch around $30 to $75 dollars a piece. Full sets, like the American Sweetheart eight-piece tea set, recently sold on eBay for $405, says Reyne.
Marie C Fields/Shutterstock
That old cookie jar on your countertop is a hot collectible right now, Hirsch says, if it’s from the ’40s or ’50s. An Uncle Mistletoe Marshall Fields cookie jar from the 1950s recently sold for $1,200. But you don’t have to have a Marshall Fields version to reap the cash: Hirsch says that cookie jars in the shape of a popular figure, like an iconic cartoon figure, go for $200 to $500. Plus: Did you know these 20 old tools are now worth big bucks?
Fender and Gibson guitars
You may have given up your ambitions of being in a rock band, but that Gibson you plunked down cash for in high school is probably worth some serious bread today. “Vintage guitars from Fender and Gibson have remained popular over the years because they’re easily the two most recognizable guitar brands,” says Orkin. The price range is incredibly vast, but on Reverb, Orkin notes, Gibson guitars are consistently being bought and sold. A Gibson Les Paul from the 1950s can claim prices in the hundreds of thousands, Orkin says, while less-sought after brands and models may fetch hundreds.
“Watches are a lot like fancy cars—the big names are what you’re looking for,” says Dietrich. But it’s the men’s watches that people collect. Women’s watches are jewelry and fashion and just not as desirable, she points out. And the more complex the men’s watch, the more valuable it could be. “Hand wound, gold or platinum, more jewels, moon phases, stopwatch functionality, day and time, etc., are what buyers are looking for,” notes Dietrich. You’ll do even better if you have a Rolex, Patek Philippe, LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, or Movado. If you prize your old watches and wouldn’t give them up for love or money, protect them by stashing them away in one of the genius secret hiding places in your home.
“Books are one of the biggest antique gold mines,” says John Linden, lead designer at MirrorCoop whose work includes interior design with vintage and antique decor. “Collectors pay a lot of money for first-edition copies of certain books. A first-edition copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, for example, is valued at around $8,000; while there were only 1,000 copies printed, those books pop up all the time, says Linden. If you own one of these rare books, you’re sitting on a gold mine.
If you want a better way of storing your books, you’ll want to see these gorgeous bookcases.
Costumes and Masks
“Vintage Halloween masks and costumes are fun and collectible, but not worth a ton of money,” says Gary Germer, owner and appraiser with Gary Germer & Associates. A Darth Vader mask recently sold for $47 on the estate sales website EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH)—EBTH. com; a set of Star Trek shirts sold for $91. Vintage holiday decorations can also be pretty valuable.
Some of us sang into hairbrushes while others used a real microphone. If you have a vintage microphone laying around, you could find a musician or music producer who would be willing to spend for it. Rare finds like the Neumann U-47 from the 1940s are worth tens of thousands of dollars online, Orkin says. But the vintage microphones most people are likely to find stashed away in a box is from a maker called Shure, which could probably fetch around $50, Orkin says.
Take a closer look at the old cookbooks that have been handed down to you; even if they have been lovingly used in the kitchen, they could be worth some scratch. Linden says cookbooks that have gone out-of-print are highly valuable. And celebrity chefs like the beloved Julia Child are always in demand. “In fact, there is a 1961 first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking selling on AbeBooks for $2,000 right now,” Linden says. If you have trouble finding room for your cookbook, try this handy hint to make it easy.
You hung onto your grandpa’s pedal car for nostalgic reasons, but depending on the age and condition, it could be a goldmine. Even with a little rust on it, a 1930 Lincoln pedal car is worth about $1,000, Germer says. These are the most valuable finds in Antiques Roadshow history. See why pedal cars are one of our favorite retro toys.
Germer says his nephew calls these “antique mechanical keyboards.” He adds that anything with gears, push buttons, and tubes are especially fascinating to the younger generation who have grown up in a wireless world. “Old typewriters need to be in working condition and will sell for $20 to $100; fully restored, in the low hundreds,” says Germer. Find out why the typewriter may not be a thing of the past.
You might want to check under the tarps or in the rafters of your garage—there could be some dusty gems. “Hood ornaments, car vases, and hubcaps are the most collected for themselves because of decorative value. Headlamps and other body parts are often repurposed for the industrial design look,” notes Germer. A hood ornament in decent condition, for example, can draw $20, but if you discover a rare one, it could collect a tidy sum of up $2,500. Even if you’re not a car person, you might be surprised at the 100 super simple car repairs you don’t need to go to the shop to fix.
Maybe not the one you stepped on in the middle of the night, but specific LEGOs are worth their weight in gold. For example, the 2010 mini-figure Jessie from Toy Story 2 in like-new condition is selling for around $10 on Bricklink.com. A LEGO Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Hogwarts Castle Set recently sold for $450. However, some of the most coveted LEGOs are the missing parts from valued sets—like a window, steering wheel, or rare color brick—and can bring up to hundreds. Be sure to check out these outstanding LEGO tables if you’re a LEGO fanatic.
Magazines, newspapers, programs, and the like are in a category called “ephemera,” Jacquie Denny, cofounder of EBTH says. That’s collector lingo for any printed matter that wasn’t made to last. “The value of items in this category is related to rarity, condition, and the number of issues,” notes Denny. Surprisingly enough, they don’t have to be ancient. A special edition Life magazine from 1969 featuring the Woodstock musical festival sold for $113 on EBTH.
You don’t have to have an out-of-print Julia Child cookbook to earn some extra bread. Betty Crocker cookbooks that were mass-produced and widely used can be worth $10 to $500, depending on their condition (ideally, not too many fingerprint stains on the pages). But signed cookbooks by a famous chef can sell like hotcakes. “Cookbooks published by a celebrity chef will generally perform better if signed and sold while their market is current. If they’re sold after the chef has lost popularity, the value will be greatly diminished,” Denny says. Check out these 10 tablet stand ideas if you prefer to find your recipes on the web.
OK, answer honestly: How many posh handbags have you accumulated over the years? And how many are piled in a dark corner of your closet? Fashion history is fun to look at and to collect, and such a collection could earn you a sizable chunk of change. “Vintage Chanel in good condition will retail on a secondary market for $2,000 to $3,000—or even $400 if it is in poor condition,” says Marie Dietrich, an appraiser at Gary Germer and Associates. Prada, on the other hand usually sells for much less, says Dietrich, though the nicer ones still go for $500 to $800.
Almost everyone has random old postcards lying around in a drawer. A single postcard can sell for $2 or as much as a few hundred dollars, depending on a few factors. According to Warwick & Warwick, the age, rarity, condition, and subject matter all play a role. If the postcard is signed by someone noteworthy, has a message of historical significance, or has a sought-after postage stamp or postal markings, it will bring in more. Some of the more popular collectible postcards can be Art Nouveau and Art Deco style, or feature social history, street scenes, or transportation. Check out some of these vintage Thanksgiving postcards to see what people used to send.
Speaking of nostalgia, the April 9-15, 1983 issue of TV Guide featuring Elvis Presley on the cover sold for $36 on EBTH. Although TV Guides are easy to find at garage sales and flea markets, what people seem to desire is the subject matter on the cover—especially if it fits into their collection. Fans of Elvis Presley make up a big portion of the market for TV Guides featuring him. If you need a place to store all these magazines, then take a look at this brilliant idea.
There are plenty of people willing to pay a pretty penny for your Polaroid. Taking a picture and watching it develop before your eyes has always been cool. Plus, once a Polaroid shot develops, it looks like the vintage filter on Instagram. A Polaroid instant camera with film recently sold on EBTH for $152; a fancier Polaroid with a gold- and leather-bound case was snapped up for $553 on EBTH. Buy these items now and stash them for safe keeping because they will be worth a lot of moola down the road.
Retro Video Games
Maybe it’s because of the fascination with gaming, the vintage artwork, or the fact that as adults, the games people were denied as children are affordable to them now—and desirable. “Retro video games are currently enjoying a renaissance in popularity,” says Denny. What that means for you if you have them stacked away in a closet is extra moola. This past June, EBTH auctioned off a collection of vintage Sega games for $2,382, but single titles do very well on their own. A 2001 Smash Bros. Melee for Nintendo GameCube just sold for about $37 on eBay. Check out these awesome game room ideas to create your own gaming oasis.
Grandma’s Favorite Painting
Art isn’t always in the eye of beholder when it comes to spotting something of value. When Linda Magnusson, ASA PP; Antiques & Decorative Art of the Magnusson Group in Morristown, New Jersey, showed up for a consultation with a client, it was her keen eye that spotted a forgotten painting hidden behind a piano. “Ironically, it was the painting that my client didn’t like and had forgotten about that turned out to be the most valuable,” Magnusson notes. Her client ended up with a six-figure payout! Here are some great art books that might help you spot a masterpiece. You’ll adore these unexpected attic rooms.
Comic books found in an attic almost seems cliché but when a comic book worth $1.5 million is found, that’s still remarkable. A copy of Action Comics No. 1 that came out in 1938 is considered the “Holy Grail” of comic books and a couple found it when they were preparing their home to be foreclosed on.
They couple had taken out a second mortgage on the house to finance a business that never took off, according to a Daily Mail story.
Check out this collection of duct tape Halloween costumes that include your favorite super heroes.
Star Wars toys
A San Francisco man found some of his childhood toys in his parents’ attic back in 2011. But they weren’t any ordinary toys. They were about 50 first-edition Star Wars toys that netted him about $10,000.
We’re guessing he might be a fan of some of these Star War decor items from another galaxy.
Photo: Via Etsy
Country Woman Magazine
Samuel L. Allen patented his Flexible Flyer in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, in 1889. “Flexible” applies to both the sled’s steering capabilities, which offered greater control than traditional gooseneck sleds or toboggans, and the fact that riders could use the sleds either seated or lying down. Sales were slow until Allen began marketing the sleds to department store toy buyers. The Flexible Flyer pictured here dates from the 1930s. Check out the 10 best winter toys to pick up to enjoy the outdoors.
Worth: From $35 to several hundred dollars
Country Woman Magazine
Free-blown Italian Glass Ornaments
The Soffieria De Carlini company has made free-blown glass ornaments since 1947, when a well-known sculptor decided to use his talent to “sculpt” glass figurines, which were then individually hand-painted and fancifully decorated. After you search through your vintage Christmas decorations, head up to your attic to see if you have any of these items that could make you rich.
Worth: $20-$50 per ornament depending on type and condition
Country Woman Magazine
The National Outfit Manufacturers Association began selling branded holiday light sets in 1926. The company was responsible for a number of innovations in its field, and in 1946, introduced the popular bubble light variation. You won’t believe these home trends making a comeback.
Worth: Around $75, in original box and in safe working condition
Vintage Door Knobs
Door knobs and other kinds of vintage hardware can gain value as time passes on. Perhaps the previous owner of your home left behind old door knobs or hardware in the home. You can get a sampling of the vintage hardware market at the House of Antique Hardware. You might be surprised to find that these antique tools are worth big bucks.
Vintage Light Fixtures
Vintage light fixtures can be a big market if you take a look at House of Antique Hardware. If you take a look at retail spaces you’ll see that vintage light fixtures are still popular. Or if you’re tired of the retro look, check out what’s new in lighting fixtures.
Polly Pocket Dolls
Polly Pocket dolls are worth some money apparently, which kind of bucks the trend of toy fads. Remember Beanie Babies? (Check out the 25 craziest toy fads in history.) It’s only a specific kind of Polly Pocket dolls that collectors seek. Collectors like the dolls made prior to 1998 when Bluebird Toys produced them. Bluebird Toys made only 350 sets before Mattel purchased the company. eBay has a complete guide to the Polly Pocket collecting.
Vintage Advertising Signs
Any American Pickers fan will tell you that vintage advertising signs are a hot commodity in the antique world. Perhaps you’ve got some sitting in an old shed or a barn that you might sell for a few bucks. Check out 10 incredible cars found in barns.
Matthew Cohen/Reader's Digest
Boy Scout Badges
Believe or not but a number of boy scout badges are worth money. Naturally, the vintage badges will grab some cash if you find the right buyer, as well as the less common badges out there. Check out the eBay page dedicated to badges to check out boy scout badge values. A good scout will know how to tie knots. Do you know how to tie these five common knots?
The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first published in 1996 by Media Factory, but other card series came to light following, and by 1999 the cards were a huge hit. The most expensive single Pokémon card is the Pokémon Illustrator card. Only 39 were ever made, and at one point the card was available on eBay for $100,000. Love getting outside to play? Check out these 12 make-and-take tailgate games.
Coin collecting is kind of funny because it’s often the imperfect coins that fetch the most money. A recent example of that is when the state quarters were issued and the Kansas state quarter had an error. Instead of saying, “In God We Trust” many of the coins instead say, “In God We Rust.” There’s a market for coins with errors but don’t expect a small fortune should you find one. Coin collecting really depends on the condition of the coins. Sometimes people will find coins in their washing machine but you’ve got to read the story of the person who found $10 million in coins in their backyard.
Vintage Lunch Boxes
Maybe your parents kept that old lunch box of yours and gave it back to you. You might want to do a quick search on what that lunch box is worth. Turns out the vintage market for lunch boxes remains strong and yours could be worth some money. If you have children now, you’ll want to check out this insulated lunch box that does wonders.
Depending on the patterns on a vintage set of Pyrex, there can be money to be made. Collectors go crazy over specific sets and patterns, so maybe the next time you’re at the thrift store, take a closer look at the Pyrex collection. Just make sure you never pick up any of these 10 things at the thrift store.
American Girl Dolls
Just like with the Polly Pocket dolls, American Girl dolls can fetch thousands of dollars of they are original and made by the original manufacturer. You can check out some of the crazy prices the dolls has garnered in this USA Today article. Mattel also took over making American Girl dolls in 1998 and those that were produced by Pleasant Company seem to attract the most money.
Concert posters from decades ago remain a popular memorabilia item among music fans. Check out this Live Auctioneers page just to see what is available out there for collectors. If you’ve got musical instruments around the house, you know how hard they are to store, but it’s easier with these tips.
Bad VHS Movies
There’s a bit of a cottage industry with old VHS movies for a couple of reasons. The really rare ones still draw a lot of money from collectors and then there’s a sub-culture out there that really digs bad movies that are available on VHS. Old DVDs and tapes are something we’ve suggested throwing out, but maybe you want to take a closer look before you do that.
There’s an elegance to perfume bottles, especially the vintage kind. Scroll eBay listings for perfume bottles to get an idea of what they’re worth.
Old Beer Cans
You might’ve always thought your uncle was a little crazy for holding on to that old beer can collection in the garage. Turns out he’s crazy like a fox because some of those old beer cans remain valuable to collectors. You can check out what old cans are going for on eBay. There’s a bid for more than $100 on a can of Old Milwaukee. If you ever find yourself without a bottle opener and a bottle of beer in your hand, check out these tips on how to open a bottle of beer without a bottle opener.
Each year millions of dollars are given out on gift cards and each year millions of those dollars go unspent. If you don’t want to use that gift card there is still a way to get some of the cash out of it. There are a number of sites out there that will buy your gift card and give you nearly the entire value back in cash or credit.
Photo: Courtesy of Cathy Abene
Some old sewing machines can be worth money but so can old sewing patterns. Rare sewing patterns from places like Vogue can bring in more than $100 if you find the right buyer. If you’ve got an old sewing machine table that you don’t use, you’ve got to see this brilliant repurposing project and nine others.
We love keeping old cereal boxes around whether it’s for creating a magazine storage space or using it as a quick oil trough. We all know that one person who has kept old Wheaties boxes but those and others are actually worth money depending on the rarity of the box.
Antique silverware is always valuable but you might have an old silverware set sitting around you never gave a second thought to about its value. If you have a tough time cleaning silver well, check out these tips to get your silver clean.
A quick browse of eBay will show you the types of antique lamps out there and the amount they’re worth. So if you’ve got a lamp that’s stayed in the family for a while, you might be sitting on a gold mine.