This article is for all you hoarders out there. Did you know that you could be sitting on a gold mine and not even know it? Yep, it’s true. Here are twenty things you might have stored in your attic that could be very valuable.
20. Rare Coins
First off, all money has value. But, the older and rarer it is, the more valuable it becomes. For instance, you can get at least $10,000 for a rare coin like a 1943 Lincoln head copper penny. Even newer coins like the 1997 “Double-Ear” Lincoln penny can sell for a few hundred bucks.
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You can get a lot for coin banks, too. Not the typical piggy bank, but antique coin banks with mechanical features. You can visit the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America’s website to see how much yours might be worth.
19. War Memorabilia
A World War I Native American soldier’s helmet, World War II uniforms and World War II authentic wartime leather bomber jackets with painted-on decoration on the back can sell for thousands of dollars, depending on their condition of course.
Some years ago a guest on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow said she had come across some of her father’s items from when he served in World War II in Nuremberg, Germany, during the Nazi trials. Gary Piattoni, the show’s appraiser, said at the time that the items could be worth as much as $3,000.
18. Religious Artifacts
According to an article on Realtor.com, religious artifacts can be quite valuable. Jonathan Greenstein, who owns and operates an auction house in Cedarhurst, NY, told Realtor.com that he had a client who found a 200-year-old silver Torah shield in the basement after her husband passed away. It sold for $25,000 at an auction. Another client of Greenstein’s stumbled upon an old, dusty menorah that dated back to the 1600s. It was worth $50,000. The menorah almost ended up in the trash, though. The client was going to throw it out!
Ephemera is simply paper items that were intended to be discarded but instead became collector’s items. These include postcards, vintage ads, magazines, restaurant menus, city maps, and even some issues of TV Guide. Here’s what you could get for each:
-postcards — between $2 and a few hundred dollars
-vintage ads — Some Coca-Cola ads are worth $15,000.
-magazines — A special edition Life magazine from 1969 featuring the Woodstock musical festival sold for $113 on EBTH.com.
-restaurant menus — $100+
-city menus — $3,000+
–TV Guide issues — April 9-15, 1983 issue featuring Elvis Presley on the cover sold for $36 on EBTH.com.
16. Musical Instruments and Accessories
Vintage Fender and Gibson guitars are worth some serious duckets–hundreds of thousands of duckets, to be exact! At least that’s how much you could get for a 1950s Gibson Les Paul. Martin guitars from the 1960s or earlier sell for more than $30,000. And, some 1960s Fender Stratocasters have sold for over $2,000. Even non-antique guitars can have a great amount of value, MarketWatch.com says.
Musical accessories can be quite valuable too, like the Neumann U-47 microphone from the 1940s that’s worth tens of thousands of dollars.
15. Baseball Cards
Everyone knows that baseball cards are valuable. But, just how much can you get for them? Two brothers found out that one of the cards in their collection of Mantle Topps cards from 1952 is valued at $1 million. One of the brothers, John, saw an ad in a newspaper earlier this year for a 1952 Mickey Mantle card with an estimated value of $3.5 million, so he was curious as to what the cards he and his brother collected would be worth.
The brothers started collecting baseball cards in 1951, and their collection got stored in the attic–and that’s where the cards remained until their mother’s passing in 2006. The house was sold and the belongings were divided between the brothers. The cards ended up in John’s basement. “We always knew we had the cards, but they were just in the attic,” John told USA TODAY. “We were fortunate our mother stayed and lived in the house until she was almost 102. Most people would have moved at some point, and in the move things like baseball cards and old school books would get thrown away. Ours just stayed there for 50 years.”
We don’t need to tell you that vintage timepieces can be quite valuable. But, what you may not have known is that men’s watches are the hot collectors’ items (sorry ladies). That’s because women’s watches are considered jewelry and fashion. That being said, if you do happen to have some vintage men’s watches in your attic, you should look for ones that are hand wound and made of gold or platinum. Other features that collectors look for are jewels and complications (e.g. dates, days of the week, chronographs, moon phases, etc.).
Cookbooks that have gone out of print can be worth a pretty penny. For example, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking book set, volume 1 (1961) and volume 2 (1970), is currently selling for $9,500 on AbeBooks.
But, it’s not just vintage cookbooks that’ll get you some extra cash. According to Reader’s Digest, cookbooks that were mass-produced and widely used (e.g. Betty Crocker cookbooks) are also worth quite a bit, as long as they’re in good condition. And, those that have been signed by a famous chef will be worth even more. “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,” Jacquie Denny, co-founder of Everything But The House, an online estate sales company, said in a Reader’s Digest article.
12. Vinyl Records
Vinyl records have made a comeback, and as a result, have risen in value. Some albums from artists like The Beatles and Bob Dylan have sold for at least $15,000. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the records collecting dust in your attic are worth that much. According to Dan Orkin of Reverb.com, first pressings–records pressed from the first original masters–are where the money is.
TIP: Vintage record players and turntables have also risen in value. For example, some record players from the 1950s and 1960s are selling on eBay for about $400. And, a Thorens TD160 record player went for over $1,200 on MaxSold.com, an estate sales company.
Antique and period jewelry can earn you quite a bit. A pearl and cameo bracelet from the late Victorian age, for example, is worth about $250. But, did you also know that you can make a lot off of costume jewelry, too? According to MSN, old costume jewelry from Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and others are auctioned off at high prices–up to $2,000 to be exact! Meanwhile, Bruce Treadway, owner of Caring Transitions in Illinois, a company specializing in senior relocation, downsizing and estate sales, said in an article on Realtor.com that his company sold a collection of costume jewelry last summer for over $8,000.
10. Retro Games and Toys
Do you have old board games, arcade games, or video games stashed in your attic? Don’t throw them out just yet. They could be worth something–even if they don’t work. You can get upwards of $400 for nonworking arcade games and anywhere from $600 to $2,500 for working games. A vintage Nintendo video game cartridge still in its original packaging recently went for $20,000. Old Atari games are valuable as well. According to Seth Peterson, co-founder and CEO of All You Can Arcade, Asteroids is worth about $1,000 and Pong is worth about $2,000.
Original board games and trading cards can also be worth thousands. An original 1974 Dungeons & Dragons board game went for $6,000. And, a 1999 first-edition Pokemon card sold for $18,000.
And, don’t forget about your childhood toys–yes, those Pokémon cards and rare Furbies from the 90s have sold for quite much. But the big bucks go to toys from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. For example, a vintage Star Wars toy in mint condition sold for $27,000 in 2015. The toy originally cost $2 when it was first sold in 1980!
TIP: Old video games in mint condition that were limited releases will fetch the most. For example, Nintendo’s Stadium Events game sold at an auction for $42,000!
9. Glassware and Glass Tableware
You can expect to get between $30 to $75 dollars a piece for Depression glass. Full sets can sell for hundreds of dollars. Okay, we know some of you are going ‘What’s Depression glass?’ Well, we’re glad you asked. Let us explain. Depression glass is the colorful glass cups, dishes, bowls and other items of machine-made cast glass made and sold for a few cents (or given away for free in cereal boxes and by gas stations and movie houses) during the Great Depression.
Cookie jars from the 1940s and 1950s are also hot collector’s items. In fact, an Uncle Mistletoe Marshall Fields cookie jar from the 1950s recently sold for $1,200. Even cookie jars in the shape of cartoon characters or other popular figures can go for a few hundred bucks.
Mason jars are also valuable–especially the rare ones, like the upside down Ball mason jar from the early 1900s, which is worth $1,000, and the violet Columbia mason jar that turned slightly purple when left in the sun, which is worth $400.
Other valuable items:
-Milk glass banana stand from the 1950s — valued at $45
-Milk glass Easter eggs — worth $775 per set
8. Vintage Electronics
If you have outdated electronics like old stereo equipment and speakers, an old Apple computer or a Polaroid instant camera, you just might be sitting on a gold mine! A 1958 Marantz stereo amplifier recently sold for over $15,000. The Apple II computer, first introduced in 1977, recently sold on eBay for $5,000. But, get this: a first edition Apple sold for $900,000! And, a Polaroid instant camera, film included, sold for $152 on EBTH.com. Another Polaroid sold for $553.
“Books are one of the biggest antique goldmines,” John Linden, lead designer at MirrorCoop, said in a Reader’s Digest article. The classics, for example, could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Mechanical books, a.k.a. technical books, are valuable as well, believe it or not. According to a Popular Mechanics article, engineering and technical books that were published at the time of a new technology are especially valuable.
And, here’s something we bet you never thought of: signed yearbooks! “High school or college yearbooks that might be autographed by someone famous that was in your graduating class could be valuable,” Eric Silver, an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow, said in the Popular Mechanics article. “Check your parents’ or grandparents’ yearbooks too.”
-Collectors pay a lot for first-edition copies of popular books. Older first-edition books, like ones from the 30s, 40s and 50s, can sometimes be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
-Autographed first-editions are worth even more.
–Modern books from early in an author’s career before they became widely read are valuable.
6. Christmas Ornaments
That Christmas ornament that’s been passed down from one generation to the next might just be very valuable, especially if it’s made out of hand-blown glass. Some old Christmas ornaments are worth anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a little over $1,000. But, if you’ve got Kugel ornaments in your possession, you just might get more for them than that. Kugel ornaments were made in Germany from 1840 to the early 1940s, and one pear-shaped Kugel ornament was listed at $18,000.
5. Perfume Bottles
Believe it or not, it’s not what’s in the bottle that’s valuable, but rather the bottle itself. That’s because the glass or the glass maker could be important. It could also be that the perfume bottle was a custom-made and rare. Whatever the case, it’ll need to be in pristine condition.
TIP: Look for bottles from companies like New England Glass Company, founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1818, or the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, founded in Sandwich, Massachusetts in 1825. They could be worth up to $1,000!
4. Retro Sneakers
Air Jordans from the 1980s can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In fact, someone sold a pair on eBay back in 2016 for $30,000! Yours could be worth that much, too. But, there’s just one catch–they cannot be previously worn. Seriously, who would pay all that money for those sneakers and not wear them? But, I digress.
Just because they’ve been worn doesn’t mean they’re not valuable, though. As long as they’re in good condition, and perhaps if they’re a certain model, you should be able to make a profit.
3. Halloween Costumes
Vintage Halloween costumes can be worth a lot. On EBTH.com, a Darth Vader mask recently sold for $47, and a set of Star Trek shirts sold for $91.
But, it’s not just vintage costumes that people are willing to drop some serious cash on. It turns out that character costumes go for quite a bit as well. Here are a few examples of what some eBay users paid for Halloween costumes:
-Darth Malgus: $2,500
-Iron Man: $4,999
Do you have an old rocking chair or some old dining room chairs in your attic? If so, you’re in luck. If they’re in good condition, they could be worth hundreds. For example, a set of Gothic Revival dining chairs from 1900 are worth about $600. Other pieces from the 1700s and 1800s can also be valuable. “If it’s the Chippendale style, or maybe the Federal style, there’s going to be a story with it and that’s going to be more valuable,” Amy Parenti, head of the Appraisal Department at Freeman’s auction house in Philadelphia, said in an article published by Popular Mechanics.
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Due to nostalgia, furniture from the 1980s and 1990s might also have monetary value.
Many of us store our valuables in a trunk in the attic. But, it’s not just what’s inside that has value. Many trunks are worth a pretty penny, too. You could get $700 for a trunk that dates back to the 1870s. And, if you manage to come across a designer trunk, say one made by Louis Vuitton, you could get thousands of dollars for it. “They can be very cool because they will often still have the labels from the ships that they went on,” Silver said in an article published by Popular Mechanics.
Have you ever found any treasures in your attic? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!