Trash or Treasure? Items You Didn’t Know Were Worth Money

moneyWe have a tendency to accumulate a lot of over the course of our lives. We often aren’t even aware of it. If you haven’t encountered this problem, just try moving. As you wade through your sea of random clothes, novelty lamps and old board games, that’s when it dawns on you: you’re the newest star on the latest episode of “Hoarders.” Welcome to Hollywood. But not really.

Instead of basking in those 15 minutes of undesired fame, think about this: it’s very possible that some of the items you have sitting around your house could actually be worth a decent amount of money. According to an article in Ladies’ Home Journal, the average American household has around $3,000 worth of junk stashed away in the garage and closets…and they don’t even know it.  Suddenly you’re the star on your own version of “Antiques Roadshow.” Here’s a guide to some of the most random items that could earn you a generous amount of pocket change, if they happen to be in your possession.

Dolls: For all the times we laughed at the girl (or guy) who collected Barbies or action figures and kept them in the boxes (you know, never taking them out to play but instead allowing them to eternally collect dust in a corner of their room?), it looks like they’re going to be having the last laugh. Many of these collector’s item toys, especially ones that were limited edition and never removed from the original packaging, can fetch a high price. And if you happened to be the owner of one of those American Girl Dolls, good news: they are now considered collector’s items. The original American Girl Dolls, like Samantha and Felicity, can fetch between $300-400 on eBay. Looks like that little girl who bought my old Molly doll at the garage sale I had a few years back is the big winner here.

Books: Vintage kid’s books (especially if you have a multivolume set like Nancy Drew, which sold for $602 on eBay), can sell for several hundreds of dollars. First or early edition copies are also highly coveted items, but not if they’re recently published. Books by Faulkner, Dickens and Stephen King all sell really well at the first-edition level, and a first edition of Ulysses can be worth up to $450,000. Comic books also do extremely well, particularly if you have any first appearances from the 1930s to the 1960s. Superman’s debut 1938 comic sold for $317,200 at auction.  Just make sure you don’t confuse the real thing for a reprint.

Vintage China: We could never quite understand why Grandma owned so many darned teacups with matching plates yet we were never allowed to use them. Well, it all makes sense now. According to eBay experts, the key to selling china is to sell them individually, not as a collection. Why? The typical customer is looking to replace a cup or plate that has been broken, and doesn’t want to purchase ten additional teacups. In a recent auction, a Lenox Country Romance serving platter sold for around $60.

Sports Trading Cards: Vintage sports cards from the turn of the 20th century up to the 1960s are super hot. The T206 Honus Wagner card from 1909 sold for $2.8 million! That’s an entire house…or several. As for your unopened boxes from the ‘90s? Don’t get too excited – they’re not worth much more than what you originally paid for them.

Coins: Anything that is rare and/or gold can sell. Even a fairly rare copper cent can sell for $425 minimum. Old silver coins don’t tend to do as well though, due to the fact that there happen to be more of them floating around. Tip from the pros? Don’t clean your coins. Disturbing the original surface will affect the overall value.

Band T-Shirts & Vinyl: This is something that a lot of people are guaranteed to have lying around…especially your boyfriend. If you happen to get your hands on a shirt that was from an early concert or specific tour date, like Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour, you can get close to a hundred bucks for it. Vinyl records, particularly rock ones, can also fetch a good price if they’re rare and preferably in their original casing. Bonus bucks if it’s never been opened. And if you happen to have The Beatles’ Butcher Block album, it’s worth approximately $39,000.

Electronics: This one is fairly obvious. Whether it’s a used iPhone or a vintage telephone, people love electronic items. Some people are intense collectors who enjoy building extensive collections of nostalgia, while others don’t feel the need to go out and buy the latest 5s and are perfectly content using a slightly-older-but-still-in-good-condition 4s that costs a lot less on eBay. Another case in point? I dressed up as Cher from Clueless last year for a friend’s birthday party, and I really wanted to get a big portable phone. I didn’t end up having the time, but if I’d gone on eBay and found one, guaranteed I would have made the purchase.



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