If you are one of those folks or families that have lived in the same house for the past many years, there is a good chance that there are lots of boxes and unused items hiding in the attic, or in a back corner of the basement. Perhaps you inherited a bunch of ‘stuff’ from an elderly relative and just stowed it away telling yourself that you will look at it later. (We aren’t talking about hoarding here, as that is a totally different subject). With the “Picker” type programs on TV, Antiques Roadshow, and other collectible events, there is a good chance you might have at least one item worth more than you think. Here are just a few of the items bringing surprise prices.
1. Some people collect vintage computers. Particularly Apple models - especially one from 1977 built in Steve Jobs’ garage. Before you recycle those computer components piling up, check them carefully.
2. Antique musical instruments have a good market. And again, it depends on the age and type. For instance, a 1960s Fender Stratocaster that was never use could be worth a lot. Even instruments used in the last 60 to 70 years in good condition can be of good value.
3. The age of lovely cut glass perfume bottles is long gone but those bottles, with intact atomizers are prized. Many of the high end glass companies made beautiful pieces. There are auctions devoted only to perfume bottles. If you think you have one of these beauties, check out the International Perfume Bottle Association.
4. Land deeds, section maps, and the like can be prized. Especially if they involve a notable person. War commissions as recent as WWII can also be valuable, so long as they involve notable individuals such as a well-known officer.
5. Barbie dolls, and her family and their clothes and accessories in good condition and from the beginning, can be quite valuable. A #1 Barbie in her original box with her striped bathing suit, heels, and perfect hair can go for several thousand dollars.
6. Vintage costume jewelry sends any vintage dealer into ecstasy. Not diamonds so much, but that lovely rhinestone and pearls and chunky charm bracelets, with names like Coro and Miriam Haskell. That lovely Lady Buxton jewelry box holding all those ‘gems’ is probably worth something too!
7. First Edition books. And they do have to be first editions. The publishing information will indicate which printing your copy is. And with newer books, if its been signed by a famous author, even better!
8. Signed yearbooks, or even unsigned. There are high school and college yearbook collectors out there. And if there is a famous person in one of those books, who might have signed or written a message, there is probably someone looking for it!
9. Paintings. We have all seen someone on Antiques Roadshow with a rescued painting or similar piece of art, a painting that’s been hanging on the wall for many years and suddenly a bell goes off that the artist is now famous. And is this piece of art now collectible? Always have artwork like this appraised by a trusted professional.
10. Antique mechanical iron banks from the first part of the 20th century have been collected for a long time. And if the mechanism is still functional only adds more value.
11. Lamp bases can be surprisingly valuable. Those big ceramic mid-century vase like creations with the huge shades bring a big amount for 50s collectors. Dresser lamps with glass shades, usually of dancing ladies or animals are sought after. Even if a base doesn’t have a shade, it can still have value.
12. Antique Christmas ornaments and decorations have quite a range of value. 1800s German glass ornaments have a high value, the blown glass ones. Some pre-WWII ornaments from Europe are prized. There are collector references covering just about anything with a vintage Christmas theme. And those 50s tinsel corsages also have value!
13. Old appliances - especially those pastel toasters. The real ones. There are even trade associations for toaster collectors!
14. Of course, that box of baseball, basketball or football cards in good condition ~ the older the better. You just might have something special.
15. Silver flatware has value in all kinds of ways. Noted names on a complete set can fetch high dollars. Some folks are looking to complete sets, and then there are those folks who buy good silver to create all manner of yard art and decorative pieces. (Because it makes a lovely sound).
Always remember that one person’s “junk” is another person’s “treasure”. And if you don’t want to sort it or research values, there are folks out there who would be more than happy to help you!
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