Everyone has seen the amazing moments when folks are told their family hand-me-downs are worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Often, these were items that they felt had more sentimental value than actual monetary value. Not every item that will bring good money at auction is obvious at first – and here are 10 items you may have around the house that you didn’t assume were valuable, but are.
- Watches and Clocks: The craftsmanship of the past has increasingly given way to technological innovation and mass production. Pocket and wrist watches in particular have demonstrated major increases in value, as examples from early 20th century masters have greatly appreciated in value.
- Weaponry: While these goods were originally prized for their usefulness, knives and firearms have grown increasingly valuable. Much like watches, this is thanks to older weaponry having a high level of craftsmanship, versus the mass production of current weaponry. Weapons with historical significance that can be traced to a particular owner or event are even more valuable. This can include things like Jack Ruby’s pistol, repeating rifles from the civil war, or highly decorative dueling pistols.
- Military Paraphernalia: Many of our ancestors were part of the military at one point or another, and some of them might even have held on to mementos of their time served. This can range from pictures, to medals, to documents, even oddball artifacts like expended ammunition.
- Documents: Historical documents are some of the most unassuming treasures out there – after all, it’s just pen on paper. The age of these documents, the subjects they cover, and the people who have written them or they were addressed to are what makes these valuable. Correspondence and documents from the World Wars and earlier can fetch plenty of attention on the auction block. Letters from historical figures are particularly coveted, regardless of the subject.
- Sporting Equipment and Memorabilia: A dulled, worn baseball or a dinged-up football helmet might be hiding the fact that it is a game-used piece from the past. If it was part of something special – a World Series, a Stanley Cup, or a World Cup, or a record-breaking season – it will be worth a good amount to collectors. One popular item in recent times is ticket stubs from important games, such as championship games or record-breaking games.
- Older Photographs: If they are old enough, it doesn’t even matter what the photos were taken of. The technology available in the early days, along with the complications of actually taking the pictures, make old photographs a highly sought-after collector’s item. If its 100 years old or more, it doesn’t matter if it’s a picture of your grandfather’s pet dog, it’s likely to have much more than sentimental worth.
- Cameras: As digital photography has become to category leader, film cameras have gradually faded away. Much like vinyl records, the older technology has developed a cult following, and the utilization of film cameras for artistic reasons has grown greatly. They don’t have to be higher-end cameras either, as while there is obviously a market for vintage units from Zeiss, Lomo, Hasselblad, there are still plenty of buyers for common cameras like the popular Pentax K 1000 and the ubiquitous Kodak Instamatic.
- Fine China and Glassware: Grandma’s fine china and flatware was only brought out for rare occasions. Maybe you thought it was just how she did things – but now, you might find that there was good reason behind this. China, glassware, and flatware in discontinued patterns or from makers that are now out of business are constantly rising in value.
- Film and Audio Reels: It’s definitely not the reels themselves that are valuable – it’s what they may contain. Some of the finds of this old audio and video equipment have held interviews with famous figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., recordings of Elvis, and visuals of past presidents. Often they are passed over by auction-goers due to the outdated equipment required for listening or viewing, but some of them could contain footage that is immensely valuable. Even cassette and video tapes from the 1980s and 1990s can fit into this category, as you never know what audio or visual footage featuring a dead celebrity or important figure you might have on them.
- Quilts: They have kept you warm for years, and if they’ve been handed down through your family for years, that ragged piece of fabric may also be worth quite a bit. While the quilt you bought at an Amish roadside stand isn’t worth any more than you paid for it, a quilt that dates back to the early 20th century or earlier will certainly be worth getting appraised.
There’s a good chance that you have something on this list just sitting around your house, packed away in the basement or attic collecting dust. If you’re like many of us, you might even have thrown similar things away in the past. All of these show that value isn’t always clear from the start, and that you should never assume that something isn’t worth all that much just because it isn’t flashy.