People around the world are captivated by happy stories of people finding hidden treasure, especially hiding right under their noses. Shows like “Antiques Roadshow” spotlight the shockingly valuable items everyday people find in their basements or childhood bedrooms. But it can be extremely difficult for the average person to know what to look for, let alone determine whether items are valuable or phony.
Before cleaning out your attic or garage, it could be worth consulting with an expert appraiser, pawnbroker or industry professional to see if these everyday items could actually have value. After all, in 2019, an auctioneer discovered a 13th-century painting hanging in a French woman’s kitchen that later sold at an auction for $26.6 million.
Even if you don’t want to sell it, knowing the value of household items can be used for insurance purposes or when settling an estate. There are professional, accredited appraisers for many antiques and collectibles, including those who specialize in these popular categories.
Even if your jewels aren’t real, many resale sites, vintage stores and pawn shops are also interested in costume jewelry.
Much like jewelry, watches are often passed down through families or friends and can have strong resale value. They’re a coveted item among pawnbrokers and can garner interest from many types of collectors, from history buffs interested in items from particular eras to people trying to track down the same watch their beloved grandpa had.
If you’re inspired by Marie Kondo to get rid of heaps of clothing you don’t wear, make sure to comb through your donate pile first. There’s a large resale market for vintage, name-brand and designer clothing on thrift and consignment websites as well as in stores. For higher-end brands, an appraiser can help determine if your item is the real deal, even if a tag or label is missing.
Much like clothing, designer shoes and handbags can also fetch near-retail sums at vintage or consignment shops or online. If you find a Hermes logo in your grandmother’s bag or a Lucchese logo on the zipper of your grandfather’s cowboy boots, it could be worth getting these potentially big-ticket items appraised.
While many people know to sell or trade in old smartphones and laptops, long-outdated technology can be worth something too. Vintage technology such as television sets, boomboxes, video game consoles, typewriters and rotary phones are collectible and desirable for decorations or props. Early computers are also coveted historical artifacts. In 2018, an early Apple computer designed and built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the 1970s sold for $375,000.
China dinnerware used to be a staple investment in America, with many people receiving china sets as gifts that were then handed down through their families. But your heirloom china could either be worthless or worth insuring. Pieces from certain manufacturers or in certain patterns are extremely desirable while other sets are considered a dime a dozen. Some sets can also be imitations or duplications of more famous or valuable pieces, so consult an expert to determine the true value.
Local camera shops can give you a rough appraisal or offer on your old equipment, though the value will depend on factors such as age, condition, brand reputation and whether or not the camera still works. If your equipment or lenses are rare, vintage or antique, it’s best to go to an appraiser. In 2016, the oldest surviving Nikon camera sold for $406,000 at auction in Austria.
Large, pricey, well-made children’s toys can easily be resold, whether it’s to parents looking to save money on a major purchase or collectors looking for rare finds. Some vintage children’s toys with a large base of collectors include LEGO, GI Joes, Hot Wheels, Pez dispensers and Transformers.
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In the same vein, dolls are particularly collectible, especially popular models like Barbie and American Girl. Hot toys of yesteryear that are long discontinued are also sought-after, such as Chatty Cathy dolls from the ‘50s and ‘60s and big-eyed Blythe dolls from the ‘70s.
Musical instruments are expensive, so many beginners or amateurs choose to buy used equipment. This means there’s resale value to instruments you have around your house. There is also a collectors market for antique instruments from pianos to guitars to violins. Some can fetch thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, while prized Stradivarius violins can sell for up to $15 million.
It can be difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish fakes and reproductions from the real deal when it comes to fine art, which includes paintings, sculptures and pottery. If you own art that you think could have any value, appraisers can determine its worth and authenticity. If you’ve inherited or plan to donate the work, an appraisal can help you when Tax Day comes.
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Retro is big in many ways, including in sports apparel. Along with a 2010s trend of vintage-inspired fashion, there is a bustling market for vintage sportswear and shoes from brands like Adidas, Nike and more. Old sports equipment can be resold at places like Play It Again Sports, while sports memorabilia, such as baseball cards, jerseys, autographs, equipment from historic games and more, can be valuable once authenticated by an expert.
Experts can help you determine whether your book is simply old or something special. Collectors look for rarer versions of books, such as first editions, books autographed by authors or special editions with unique cover art. In 2019, a rare first edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" bought for about $1 sold at auction for $34,500.
Firearms, including pistols, rifles and shotguns, have a strong resale value if newer and well-maintained. Antique guns can be collectible if they’re in good condition with historical significance. There is a market for other military collectibles as well, such as uniforms, helmets, medals and more.
The value of furs depends on the quality, age, fur type and condition of the coat or accessory, so it could be worth more or less than you might think. A fur appraiser can give you the best estimate of a fur’s value. If you’re planning on donating the coat to charity or a program like Coats for Cubs, an official estimate can be used for tax deduction purposes.
People have been collecting stamps since their invention in the U.K. in 1840, and if you’ve inherited a stamp collection or assembled one of your own over the years, you could be sitting on a gold mine. Some of the rarest stamps in the world have fetched more than $1 million, and plenty of single American stamps are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on their rarity and condition. Coin collections are also worth appraising. In 2019, a coin worth half a dollar when it was made in 1838 sold for $504,000 at auction.
Even if you don’t use them or they’re not your style, sterling silver items such as trays, serving spoons and more can be valuable if they were made by a particular brand or during a certain period. At the least, they can be sold for scrap. The same can be said of coins, boxes, canes, lighters, barware and more made from silver, gold or platinum, a precious metal that can be mistaken for silver.
Your grandmother’s china cabinet might seem ancient and old-fashioned, but some quality, vintage furniture never goes out of style. In fact, certain passe decorating trends are once again en vogue, such as mid-century modern, and can fetch a pretty penny in resale shops, antique stores or at auction. Even if a piece is not in the best condition, collectors, dealers or even Hollywood set designers might be interested in buying and restoring your pieces.
Even if you have major appliances or cars that are broken or run-down, their parts still have value. Manufacturers, collectors and more could be interested in car parts such as car wheels, tires and rims or electronic components such as subwoofers and GPS systems. Repair shops or other industry pros could also be interested in buying old appliance parts from washers and dryers, dishwashers and more.
Getting a home appraisal is required by lenders before receiving a mortgage loan, but there are other situations in which it’s worth bringing in a home appraiser. Getting a home appraisal before selling your home or when settling an estate can help you determine a realistic market value. If you think your home’s property value is too high and you’re paying too much in taxes, you can also use an appraisal to appeal your tax assessments. If you’re planning to sell your house, here are 20 things you can do to improve the resale value of your home.
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