If shows like Storage Wars have taught us anything, it’s that big bucks can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Every day, treasure hunters spend hours searching for hidden masterpieces in small shops and boutiques. But the next big discovery could be in your own home — that junk gathering dust in your basement could actually be a goldmine waiting to be rediscovered. And should you find a certain Christmas trinket packed away with your decorations, then your holidays may just get a little bit happier.
Looking in the right places
It’s no secret that vintage holiday artworks and ornaments can fetch astonishing amounts of money at auction. Every day, potential buyers spend hours searching for hidden masterpieces in small shops and boutiques. However, some of the most expensive items sold at auction were actually found in the most unexpected places — like a cardboard box in the attic that sits unopened for most of the year.
'Tis the season
As you can imagine, these values of antiques can change depending on the time of year - and Christmas is a peak time for the sale of ornaments. Come the holidays, a potential seller can often expect a hefty return on collectibles. “My aunt recently found a vintage Advent calendar for $1 and sold it in a week for $78,” wrote eBay expert Eric Michael as an example.
The nostalgia factor
In Michael’s opinion, this swing in value has everything to do with nostalgia. “Everybody had favorite Christmas decorations and ornaments from when they were growing up,” the professional antiquer reasoned. “Many people would pay a lot of hard-earned cash to replace broken heirlooms or to locate rare items that they find in old family Christmas photos.”
Pinpoint a particular era
As a result, Michael suggests sticking to specific time periods when it comes to reselling ornaments. For example, boxed items produced by Hallmark in the 1980s can raise a fair price for the right buyer. Meanwhile, collectibles that are tied into film franchises – such as Star Wars - can sell for as high as $50.
Not all that glitters is gold
And it’s not just elaborate ornaments that can sell for a decent price online. In fact, Shiny-Brite decorations that once graced so many childhood Christmas trees can fetch a respectable amount. However, items like this are usually more valuable in a group rather than individually. For example, a bundle of baubles should usually fetch around $20.
“Surprisingly easy” to track down
Many of us already have decades-old Christmas decorations tucked away in our homes. However, for those of us who don’t, these tiny treasures can also be “surprisingly easy” to find, according to Michael. For starters, thrift stores are often overflowing with surplus decorations. For another option, yard sales can be a good source as well.
Massive profit margins
Moreover, eager people looking to sell these items in person are less likely to haggle over the price. “I can’t tell you how many 20-30-year-old ornaments and knick-knacks I have picked out of Free boxes at garage sales and yard sales,” Michael enthused. “I have found dozens more for 10 cents or 25 cents apiece.”
Highs and lows of the market
Clearly, when it comes to the eBay ornament market, there are some decorations that are more highly valued than others. However, there are certain items that will raise a steeper asking price depending on the level of current demand. And this can often be where the real money lies — you just have to learn how to recognize those opportunities.
A precious moment for antiques
In 2018, for example, eBay felt a surge in buyers clamoring to obtain vintage Precious Moments porcelain statues. Originally sold in 1979 for a meager $15, these collectibles suddenly experienced a newfound — and quite unexpected — explosion of demand. As a matter of fact, some of these simple ornaments sold for prices as high as $350.
In-demand objects and materials
As shown by the sudden boom in Precious Memories figurines, specific ceramics can experience a surprising surge in popularity. This is even more true of seasonal ornaments and decorations, which often only see the light of day a few weeks out of the year. So with that in mind, what exactly is it that Christmas collectible hunters should be on the lookout for this Yuletide?
Ceramic Christmas trees
Like so many sought-after eBay items, our currently in-demand ornamental object of desire is a festive decoration that was popular many years ago. Originally produced in the 1960s, ceramic Christmas trees were a staple of homes all over America for over a decade. Easy to mold and paint at home, these items were popular with families who fancied adding their own special touch to their decorations.
Lasting for generations
Simple and unassuming, these decorations were originally constructed out of clay. As a result, they were just as durable and easy to handle as they were charming and fun to paint. Moreover, their design left them capable of surviving years in storage which is why so many items have made it to the present in one piece.
A classic piece of decor
As he explained to the TODAY Home website in 2018, collectible guru Bob Richter recalled that ceramic Christmas trees once took pride of place in many American homes. “Everyone who took a ceramics class and celebrated Christmas made one of these trees,” he said. “People put them on top of the television, back when the TV was a piece of furniture.”
The big producers
With the popularity of handicrafts in the 1960s and 1970s, plenty of companies put their own trees on the market. In particular, ceramic trees were popular with producers based in the Midwest. Notably, companies like Nowell’s Molds and Shiloh Molds – operating out of factories in Ohio and Arkansas, respectively – created their own versions of the ceramic.
Deluxe features added in
Through mass production, these companies were able to add a few extra features that many craft stores weren’t able to offer. Specifically, early models of these trees came with individual light sources that replicated the bulbs strung around real trees. Later, these were updated to trees lit from inside by a single bulb, creating a dazzling effect.
The hills are alive with the sound of... pine trees
Alongside these light-up ceramic trees, certain other models included some additional unique features. For example, some trees were made in the style of music boxes that revolved while quaint melodies rang out. These musical trees - as well as the larger ones - tend to be more valuable, according to Richter.
Falling out of fashion
Nevertheless, even the most popular items can’t hold onto their beloved status forever. In the case of ceramic Christmas trees, interest began to wane with the decline of handicrafts in the 1990s. With more convenient ready-made decorations getting shipped to the States from countries in East Asia, these domestically made models slowly disappeared from homes.
Still, many who owned original ceramic Christmas trees couldn’t bring themselves to throw them away. Instead, they put them into storage where they gathered dust for the best part of three decades. At least, that was the case up until recently when loft hunters began rummaging through their possessions and putting the items up for sale on eBay.
The long-awaited ceramic comeback
In late 2018, news sources began noticing a surge in sales of ceramic Christmas trees on eBay. At first, outlets like TODAY Home reported that some items had sold for as high as $100. But then, as more people were alerted to the boom, the prices began to soar higher and higher. It was on the verge of going out of control.
Hundreds and hundreds of dollars
Scouring eBay’s listings, TODAY Home found another tree that had sold for $149. If that wasn’t enough, they went on to report that another piece had realised an eye-watering $218. However, this was far from the highest price. In fact, Mental Floss would claim that one ceramic Christmas tree had switched hands for a staggering $650.
Social media frenzy
Coinciding with this surge in popularity, social media users began to document their enthusiasm for the trees. And, in many cases, these fans belonged to a new generation. “This ceramic tree was my Mom’s, and I love it!” posted gobeil_soleil underneath a picture of a white tree on Instagram. “She has a green one as well at her place.”
Remembering old relatives and loved ones
Much like Eric Michael, Bob Richter believes this boom in popularity has everything to do with a yearning for the past. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, my mom had this, my aunt had this, so I want one,’” reasoned the collectibles expert. “Basically, you’re buying nostalgia,” he continued. “You’re buying the memory.” It seems that antiquing can be a far more emotional experience than most of us realize.
Expert advice for sellers
Richter also had a few useful tips to pass on to those looking to make some money out of memories. If you have a ceramic Christmas tree then the most important rule is to know when to sell. Obviously, few buyers are going to be interested in paying out big bucks for a festive ornament in August.
Mastering the sales pitch
When it does comes time to actually place the item online, however, it’s worth paying close attention to your sales pitch. Richter recommends a three-day listing and a time-sensitive title such as ‘Get in time for Christmas’ to encourage eBay patrons to hit ‘Bid’. Additionally, attractive online presentation is also vitally important in reeling in potential buyers.
A picture says a thousand words
As Richter says, a flattering photograph of the ornament on the listing page can make all the difference. “People don’t like buying something that’s being held by a hand that has dirty fingernails or if there’s a mess in the background,” the collector advised. So, don’t expect to attract many bids if your photographic presentation isn’t up to scratch.
Getting your very own ceramic Christmas tree
This is all very useful knowledge for those who already own ceramic Christmas trees. But what about those who don’t own these rare items and still want to make a buck? As it turns out, these treasured collectibles are actually fairly easy to source – so long as you look at the right time.
Strike during the offseason
“The truth of the matter is, they’re not incredibly valuable at other times of the year,” Richter explained. As a result, you’re best advised to stock up in the summer while prices are low. “I buy holiday items off-season in July, when you’re sweating at a flea market, because you can get those trees for $10 and $20,” he added.
Money can't buy everything
If you still have a ceramic Christmas tree that you’d like to sell then it’s best to get them on eBay as soon as possible. In recent holiday seasons, some items have been listed for as high as $300. However, it’s also worth remembering that money isn’t always a substitute for the sentimental value that family ornaments can have.
Bringing the past back to life
“I think it’s great to turn them into cash,” concluded Richter, “and it’s also great to…plug them in and use them, and tell a story of your grandmother or your aunt or your mother or whoever it was who had them in the first place, because that that’s the true value. It has emotional value, and that has gossamer wings.”
Whether as a vintage collectible or as a family memento, ceramic Christmas trees clearly have a greater value far beyond their unassuming appearance. In fact, it may well make you think about the knick-knacks we shouldn’t have tossed aside without a thought. So, the next time you’re clearing out your storage space, think twice about throwing away your long-forgotten belongings - they could be worth much more online than you think.
One man's trash...
Other items for sale on auction sites like eBay have fetched surprisingly high prices despite a very divisive aesthetic. For some, a teapot in the shape of a cauliflower may not be everyone’s idea of an attractive objet d'art. However, according to a financial site called Money Aware, one was sold on eBay for an astounding $162.
Not everyone is so honest
It’s apparent then, that the market of mass-produced collectibles is larger than one would initially think. It’s so large, in fact, that it’s even become home to fraudsters and con artists. In 2019, for example, opportunistic eBay sellers in the UK began posting new ceramics worth a meager £1 at ten times their original value.
If you want to find a genuine collectible on eBay, then, it’s clear that you’ll have to do your research before making a bid. Conversely, anyone wishing to put their items up for auction should first consider what they should expect from a sale. While many collectibles can be worth rather more than you’d expect, however, there are others that can make a killing in comparison.
An hour for an hour
Writing on his website, Eric Michael laid down some handy hints for those new to online auctions. Chief among them was continually referring to best-seller lists to find trends in the market. “For every hour that you spend picking, you should be spending an hour looking at eBay Completed Listings, so that you know what is selling,” Michael advised. And besides ornaments, some of the presents you may have found under the Christmas tree — and kept in storage ever since — could be worth listing.
Nowadays, you can get a smartphone that does all of the computing you need and also fits into your pocket. And that's why you probably keep your clunker of a vintage computer in the attic. But if that device is seriously old school, it could be worth a lot of money. Appraiser Eric Silver told Popular Mechanics that a first edition Apple computer sold for a whopping $900,000 at auction.
Perhaps a sentimental parent held onto your childhood lunchbox — or even their own — and now that midday meal carrier sits in your attic. But if the container features a nice design on its front, such as a Beatles or Jetsons motif, dust it off and sell it. You'll be glad you did: some such collectibles have sold for upwards of $3,000.
Not just any old cookie jar will sell on today's antique market. If you have a piece that was made in the 1940s or '50s, though, you could be in luck, as that's apparently what buyers are after. More specifically, a cookie container that's fashioned in the form of a well-known character or cartoon figure could earn you hundreds of dollars.
Did someone in your family have a famous pen pal? Well, you may want to check, because a letter from a well-known name can rake in big bucks. Otherwise, vintage postcards can attract collectors, too — especially ones that were sent prior to World War I. And as you can imagine, the better condition that the cards are in, the more money they're likely to make.
Once upon a time — in the 1930s, to be exact — quilters began cutting out circles of fabric and hand-sewing them together. And the unique resulting coverlet earned its name from a popular toy at the time: the yo-yo. Nowadays, if you have a hand-stitched colorful one of these throws in your attic, you could earn yourself close to $300.
Stetson cowboy hat
Did you know that the first cowboy hat came to be in the 1860s thanks to designer John Batterson Stetson? Interestingly, his design had a dual purpose: it shaded the cowboy's face from the sun, and when flipped over, it made the perfect vessel from which he or his horse could drink, too. So, if you have an in-the-box vintage Stetson laying around, you could be able to flog it for hundreds of dollars.
Log onto Instagram, and you'll see countless photos that have been filtered to achieve the perfect vintage look. Perhaps that trend explains why more and more people now want to buy Polaroid cameras, since they produce physical pics with the same cool effect. And so, you could sell the one that's been sitting in your attic for upwards of $500, depending on the model and its accessories, of course.
Back in the day, you may have been lucky enough to have your own Pac-Man or Pong arcade game. And if so, the collectible could be worth a lot of money now. Whether it works or not is no issue, either; collectors love these old-school entertainment devices. That said, functioning games will bring in a lot more than broken ones. A working Pong, for instance, can bag you nearly $2,000.
It can be tough to tell if that dusty old painting in your attic has a high market value. So, experts suggest bringing your art to an appraiser to see if you could resell it for big bucks. After all, your hand-me-downs could have come from a family member's friend or neighbor who just so happened to make it big later on. And that could mean your piece is a huge moneymaker today.
Today's decorators love to pepper their homes with vintage ads, especially ones from companies that still exist, such as Coca-Cola. So, rifle through your attic to see if you've happened to hold onto such artsy accessories. And as an added incentive, keep in mind that old Coke-inspired merch has made up to $15,000.
It's not uncommon for families to hand valuable silverware down through the generations, especially when it's made of the real deal. As such, you could be sitting on a gold — er, silver — mine if you have a vintage set, particularly one from a well-known brand, such as Tiffany or Gorham. In fact, think $1,000 or more for your collection.
First edition books
If you’ve inherited an epic book collection from your grandparents, then you’re incredibly lucky. But it’s also worth checking to see if you have any first editions of well-known titles. In 2016 Eric Silver, an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, told Country Living magazine, “First editions of books from the 30s, 40s or 50s can sometimes be worth tens of thousands of dollars.”
You might think that only accessories crafted from valuable metals or containing genuine gemstones have any resale value. But certain pieces of costume jewelry have raked in thousands at auction — just as much as their more precious counterparts. Top tip: look for pieces that were made by once-sought-after designers, such as Miriam Haskell or Elsa Schiaparelli.
Deeds, yearbooks, and signed documents
Who would've thought that a box full of extraneous documents and ledgers could be a gold mine? Well, for starters, one of your parents or grandparents could have had a famous classmate. And if so, their signature in a yearbook could go for big bucks. The same goes for old land deeds, too, so pore over such files to see if your home or property once had a well-known owner.
In the world of collectible footwear, some Air Jordans could be considered antiques. Reyne Hirsch, who's an appraiser on PBS' Antiques Roadshow, told Reader's Digest, "Early Air Jordan sneakers can sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on which model and condition."
Singer sewing machines
Old Singer sewing machines are beautiful. Many, with their rustic wooden bases and detailed decoration, are much prettier than the standard white plastic versions you can buy today. And that’s why you often see old Singers in shop window displays or as ornaments in cozy family homes. It’s also one of the reasons the vintage models can fetch a pretty penny nowadays. You’ll need to examine the model, year, and condition of yours, but depending on those factors, it could rake in anything up to $2,000.
Nowadays, vintage vinyl can be worth a pretty sum, especially if it's the first pressing of a popular title. But, of course, every record collection is different in terms of size and quality — both of the music and of the objects themselves. Sites such as Reverb LP can help you gauge the market value of your tracks. It’s time to sift through those sleeves!
Many of us remember patterned Pyrex dishes in our mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens. First introduced in 1908, it wasn’t until the 1930s that the company began to experiment with colors and patterns. And while the glassware might appear commonplace, some examples are worth thousands of dollars.
If there's an old box of cereal in your attic, you probably don't want to eat it. But what you can do is sell the well-preserved packet. That's right: it turns out that there's a whole audience of collectors ready to buy vintage cereal containers, especially those of iconic or now-defunct brands. So get searching!
If you're looking to sell your old lamp, you don't even need to have the entire thing: antique bases from the right brands can rake in big money. So, go through your attic-based inventory and see if you have any pieces from brands such as Tiffany's, Handel, or Fulper. Incredibly, some such antiques have sold for as much as $25,000.
Whether it was you or your parent who stockpiled baseball cards back in the day, you might be very happy that you've held onto them. Decks from the decades prior to 1950 can bring in some serious cash — depending on the demand for the players that they feature, of course. Collectors also seek cigarette cards from the turn of the 20th century, too, so see what you have stored away.
You may have noticed that modern brands including Smeg have started selling vintage-inspired toasters in a full rainbow of pastel colors. But if you have a real old-school appliance in a similarly saccharine shade, it could be just as quick to sell as today's version — and for a great price, too.
Since vinyl records are making a comeback, thanks to music aficionados both young and old, so are record players. And vintage equipment has a particular draw for some customers. In fact, in March 2019 eBay appraiser Jim Griffith told Country Living that even relatively less-desired models, such as the RCA Vitor Slide-O-Matic, can bring in $130.
VHS tapes ruled the at-home movie market from the late 1970s until the turn of the 21st century, when DVDs swiftly took over. Some movies never got the DVD treatment, though, which makes their tapes highly coveted. And the same goes for VHS versions of banned or otherwise controversial films. In fact, if you have one in your attic, it could make you up to $50,000.
Well-preserved musical instruments are, in general, a big moneymaker when re-sold — whether they're antique or not. So, sift through your attic to see if you have anything you can flog. Guitars, especially, are worth looking out for. A barely used one from 60 or 70 years ago can be super valuable to a collector or music aficionado.
Apparently, remnants of the old West bring in big money from collectors. So, analyze any cowboy-inspired gear that your family has accumulated over the years. You may just have a belt buckle made of sterling silver hidden away somewhere, in which case you have a moneymaker. Even newer ones can earn $500 at auction.
Vintage magazines don't have to be from centuries ago to be attractive to collectors. Everything But The House co-founder Jacquie Denny told Reader's Digest, "The value of items in this category is related to rarity, condition, and the number of issues." You're especially in luck if you have a publication that depicts a historic event on its cover. For instance, a 1969 issue of Time magazine about Woodstock went for $113 on Denny's website.
Step aside, Fisher-Price cars; your predecessor carries some serious weight at an antiques auction. When it comes to pedal cars, collectors look for older models as well as those that remain in good condition. For example, a Lincoln car from 1930 is valued at around $1,000.
During the Great Depression, food manufacturers would slip pieces of glassware into their boxes as an incentive for customers to buy their products. And as such, families across the U.S. and Canada filled their cabinets with these colorful items that are now known as Depression glass. Price-wise, your hand-me-downs should sell for between $30 to $75 per piece. That's not bad if you have more than one kicking around!
When it comes to making money on pens, we're not talking about the miscellaneous Biros that you keep in the kitchen drawer. A vintage fountain pen or a writing implement with a notable history — say, a politician once used it to sign something important - will do well when placed for sale or auction. Otherwise, you can add it to the junk collection.
There are plenty of newly made tees around that are meant to look vintage, but that's not where the money's at. Real retro pieces featuring advertisements, old-school concerts, beloved brands or eye-catching art, on the other hand, will inspire vintage shoppers to spend big. In fact, single tees have sold for upwards of $300. A garment with musical artist Prince on the front, for example, went for $380 on Poshmark, according to Reader's Digest.
Believe it or not, vintage costume-and-mask sets can make you money, although they likely won't bring in as much money as some of the other items on this list. If they feature a character from a famous movie, though — think Star Wars — you could be in luck. Plus, your old-school Halloween decorations might interest a buyer, too, so long as you're willing to part with something so nostalgic.
Tap, tap, tap. We all love the sound that a vintage typewriter makes. But you might also love the sound of the gavel dropping when you bring yours to auction. Insider tip: collectors are willing to spend big on more colorful pieces, since black typewriters are so easy to find. Plus, the fewer scratches or dents on the device, the better your sale price will be.
Do you think you could fill your vintage piggy bank with $2,500? That's how much the one that's sitting in your attic could be worth. Of course, it depends on a few things: generally, old piggy banks with mechanical features tend to rake in higher amounts of cash. There's even an entire organization — called the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America — that has sought to purchase such wares since the late 1950s.
There's something so romantic about an old piece of luggage, even if you'd rather wheel around a rolling bag than carry an old-school suitcase with you. And that's why collectors seek such vintage luggage sets, especially ones with fun finishes that remain in great condition. A single piece of luggage probably won't bring in much cash, though.
Perfume is one category of antiques where the brand doesn't matter too much. Apparently, collectors care more about the bottle itself, especially the glassmaker and the type of glass they used. There's such a large market for these dainty containers that you could sell yours at an auction exclusively for perfume bottles.
Barbies have long been a favorite plaything for little ones, but collectors care most about the doll who started it all: the first-edition Barbie. If you have one in your attic, you could be in for a huge payday, especially if she's still in her original box with all of her accessories. Some such toys have gone for $10,000.
Paintings tend to get all of the attention, but prints can also do well at antiques auctions. And so, if you have some old-looking prints in your attic, check to see if they have a penciled-on signature from the artist. That means that you probably have a limited-edition numbered print, which will be worth more than the average.
Jadeite kitchenware, produced by the Hocking Glass Company – which was also behind Depression glass – first appeared in the 1940s. And if you’ve managed to inherit some, you could be in the money. Jadeite salt and pepper shakers tend to sell for around $50, while loaf pans might fetch $150.
Whether they're in the attic, garage, basement, or shed, it's worth digging up your vintage tools to see if they're worth big bucks. Items such as saws or hand drills, however simple or beat-up they look, can actually be extremely valuable to collectors. How does $3,000 for that rusty tool sound?
Remarkably, that ancient box of firecrackers you have in the attic could be worth something at auction. It turns out there's a whole network of collectors who look for these sparklers, specifically the ones that are still in their original packaging. The colorful logos and designs are what they want to collect if you have them.
Vintage wedding dresses
Lots of women hold on to their wedding dresses, which is good news for vintage fans who want to tie the knot in something retro. The most sought-after designs tend to come from the 1910s to the 1950s. Their value will, of course, depend on their condition. But some gowns from the early 20th century can sell for over $1,000.
Old stock certificates
Forgotten stock certificates could be your ticket to the high life. According to Country Life magazine, one buyer found a document worth $130 million in a box of papers they’d purchased. The certificate in question was from 1917 and listed 1,625 shares in an oil company that later teamed up with Coca-Cola.
Milk glass banana stand
Milk glass became popular in the Victorian era as a more affordable alternative to porcelain. Production lulled during the Great Depression but enjoyed a resurgence following World War II. Values will vary from item to item, but one 1950s reproduction banana stand was said to be worth $100 in Country Living magazine.
Violet Columbia Mason jar
These purple-tinted jars were made accidentally when manufacturers mistakenly added manganese to the glass. This gave them a violet color when placed in sunlight. The kitchenware was made available to customers in 1905. They are said to be very rare, and could, therefore, carry a hefty price tag of $400.
Dollhouses made by the British toy-making firm Lines Brothers, under the Tri-ang brand name, are worth more than $100, according to eBay. The biggest house the company ever made was produced in 1924 and measured almost six feet wide. This mammoth plaything is the stately home of the Tri-ang world and is worth around $2,000.
When it comes to vintage cars, antique collectors aren't looking for the entire thing. Instead, you might entice them to buy the little parts, such as old-school hubcaps or hood ornaments, that you've somehow managed to save over the years. If you do happen to have bigger pieces such as headlamps lying around, you could sell those, too. Industrial design enthusiasts often repurpose them into home decor.
Windsor chairs have multiple thin spindles around the back and sides, fixed to a sculpted, solid seat. Popular items of furniture for centuries, they’ve seen multiple revivals over the years. Of particular value are chairs from the 18th and early 19th centuries, which can reach five-figure sums.
Handmade Persian rugs increase in value over the years, but this can be a slow process. But if you have a rug that’s passed down through the generations, it could be worth money by now. Examples that are over a century old are antique, and their price depends on a number of factors, including size and condition.
When you think about it, kids snap crayons all the time. So if you’ve managed to keep a box intact over the decades, that’s an achievement in itself. However, antique crayons could be worth money. Vintage ones made by Crayola are highly sought after, for example, with some sets valued at up to $500.
Old seed packets
Most gardeners probably wouldn’t consider hanging onto the packaging their seeds come in. But antique seed packets are quite collectible. American examples from the early 20th century sell for about $12. And more desirable European versions can even fetch up to $50 each, which is not to be sniffed at.
Vintage phones are another example of everyday items that can sell for impressive sums. One particularly popular brand is Western Electric, which dominated the American telephone market for almost half a century. Both single handsets and candlestick models are sought after even now and come with an estimated price tag of around $300 to $400.
While the Black Forest in Germany is most famous for great desserts, the region is also synonymous with cuckoo clocks. Examples from the area are highly sought after by collectors, and even new ones can sell for hundreds of dollars. Antique examples, meanwhile, are worth much more. In 2009 one Johann Baptist Beha clock sold for $8,000.
Toy trains were popular throughout the 20th century, meaning that many families will have had one at some point. They remain highly collectible to this day, with people willing to part with vast amounts of money for rare pieces. Pre-war Lionel trains are particularly sought after and can fetch anywhere between $20 and several thousand dollars.
When it comes to antique pans, those made by Griswold are some of the most sought after. The American manufacturer was in operation from 1865 to 1957 and has a reputation for quality. As a result, many items of Griswold cookware are collectible, with one rare six-and-a-half-inch pan selling for around $2,400.
Colorful Fiestaware, launched by the Homer Laughlin China Company in Newell, West Virginia, began brightening up dinner tables across the land in 1936. The bold designs proved so popular that they spawned many knock-offs over the years. However, the original Fiestaware from the 1930s is extremely valuable, with full sets selling for around $1,500.
If your grandparents wore spectacles, keep an eye out for forgotten pairs in their belongings. That’s because vintage glasses can attract a decent sum of money. Some designer pairs made over 25 years ago are worth almost $1,000. So it would be a shame to leave them lying in a drawer somewhere.
Old soda crates
The soda industry was in its infancy at the turn of the 20th century, created by local drugstores making their own concoctions to sell to customers. Many of these small-batch recipes were packed into hand-stenciled crates before delivery. Now rare, these decorative delivery boxes are worth as much as $200. More recent examples from the 50s and 60s, however, are worth around $20.
Painted, wooden duck decoys became popular among bird hunters in the mid-19th century. But they became collectors’ items around a decade later, with some examples worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. That being said, on eBay in March 2020, a duck from the turn of the 20th century was listed at a more modest $299.
If you’ve inherited one of these exquisite timepieces through your grandparents, you may want to consider getting it appraised. That’s because pocket watches can attract crazy money. For example, the Patek Philippe Supercomplication sold for $24 million at auction in 2014, placing it among the most expensive pocket watches in the world.
Knives are a great example of everyday kitchen staples that could also carry significant value. In fact, vintage versions sell for over $2,000 on eBay, with carbon blades and handmade cutting implements particularly sought after. Even if your old knife isn’t worth much, it may still be of use following a trip to your local sharpeners.
Retro cameras can be worth a pretty penny if they’re still in working order. Brands such as Leica and Rolleiflex are highly sought after, with some models boasting a resale value of more than $1,000. Vintage Polaroids from the mid-20th century might also bag you a fair sum, being worth around $100.
Nintendo Game Boy
It’s hard to put into words just how big the Nintendo Game Boy was when it dropped in 1989. It changed handheld gaming forever. And if you’ve still got one in pristine condition, you could earn a lot of money. For instance, an untouched version is up for sale at nearly $2,000 on eBay at the time of writing.
Who’d have thought that old Pez dispensers would be valuable collector’s items today? These products can fetch a pretty penny on eBay, but the Mickey Mouse “Softhead” is a different beast entirely. One of those items was actually sold for nearly $4,000 online around the time of publishing. And no, that’s not a typo!
Certain Star Wars figures
You can’t beat a vintage Star Wars toy. There’s just something magical about them. They’re also pretty valuable now – especially the rare action figures. For example, a special Luke Skywalker model sporting a “double-telescoping lightsaber” from 1978 brought in $25,000 at a Sotheby’s auction. According to the company, no more than 20 of them exist! Could you have one in the attic?
Old games consoles
PlayStations and Xboxes dominate the modern gaming landscape, though another console held the crown in the late 1970s. Yes, the Atari 2600 was the go-to piece of kit for aspiring gamers back then. And if you still happen to own your old machine, it might give your wallet a boost. At the time of writing, one is on sale for over $550 on eBay.
Before we could even dream about driving as kids, the closest thing we’d get to a vehicle was a bicycle. At least it gave us some exercise, right? Yet certain bikes are very valuable on the market right now — especially those from the past. Take the 1968 Schwinn Five-Speed Orange Krate Stingray as an example. That model is going for nearly $2,200 on eBay at the time of publishing.
Old Lego sets
The popularity of Lego can’t be underestimated. After all, who didn’t own a set during their childhood? Though there’s a certain box from the past that could pay for some new collections today. Yes, a “vintage” Fire Station dating back to 1981 has fetched nearly $125 on eBay.
We don’t know about you, but we’re big supporters of keeping hold of old comic books. You never know how much they might be worth in the future — even something like a Tom and Jerry publication. Yep, the characters appeared in a “Toy Fair” book in 1958, and when this piece was written, one was selling for $127 on Etsy.