We get it—you’re stuck at home with a lot of extra time on your hands. You’ve looked up how to clean blinds and how to paint a room—and then actually did the work! You’ve even resorted to Googling “What to do when you’re bored.” So now it’s time to consider tackling the long-neglected task of cleaning out the attic or storage room. We all have that stash of boxes, you know the “priceless family heirlooms” that Grandma gave you ages ago. They’re those boxes that haven’t unpacked in several moves and too many years to count. While there is nothing more satisfying than dropping a pile of forgotten goods at the donation center (you know what they say about one man’s trash…), it might be worth taking a gander through your hoards of stuff to make sure you’re not sitting on a treasure trove. Through the years, items can appreciate in value more than you think. So before you toss or donate anything, take a look at this list of 45 items that are worth a lot of money today and may just be hiding in plain sight in your storage. Who knows? Even those garage sale items you bought for a dollar could be worth a fortune now!
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Equestrian and hunting paintings reached mainstream popularity in 19th-century England, but horses and their riders have added proper flair to gallery walls for hundreds of years. From formal jockey portraits to action-filled depictions of traditional fox-hunting excursions, the category is popular for casual horse lovers and experts alike. Large oil paintings with original ornate frames garner much higher values, while smaller examples in simpler, more primitive frames bring less.
What it’s worth: $200 to $10,000
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Video Game Consoles
Video game consoles from the 1980s are nabbing big dollars, especially when they’re unused and/or a rare edition. The Nintendo PlayStation prototype shown here sold at auction in March 2020 for a whopping $360K. Individual video games—while available at every price point—can bring more than $20,000.
What it’s worth: $20 to $360,000
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Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’
Julia Child is one of America’s favorite chefs, and her first cookbook swept the nation when it was published in 1961. If you’ve hung onto an original copy, you may be in the market for more than just a satisfied appetite—a first edition in good condition with the original jacket is rare and earns top dollar on Ebay and other online auctions sites.
What it’s worth: $2,000 and up
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Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia
August 2020 marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, which means “votes for women” collectibles are back in the spotlight. Items like those shown here that date directly to the movement’s most active years (1890–1917) are considered museum-worthy with values in the thousands; later pieces, such as buttons and pins, are more affordable. Find an extensive index of artifacts at womansuffragememorabilia.com.
What it’s worth: $50 to priceless
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Post WWII, Americans were in a celebratory mood, and at-home entertaining (especially cocktail parties) was all the rage. Important to the affair was the offering of the appropriate graphic and colorful barware—with just the right dose of gold glitz—by well-known glassware companies such as Libbey, Federal Glass, Hazel-Atlas, and Culver. As the craze for retro cocktails has grown, so has love for the accompanying accoutrements. But you don’t have to wait for a party to enjoy them. These modern pieces make a fun addition to your everyday table.
What it’s worth: $15 to $1,500
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Two-Color Pieced Quilts
Lately, Country Living’s style editors have been coveting monochromatic vintage coverlets like the pretty pieced quilt shown here. Their back-to-basics patterns (typically a single color mixed with white) were popular in the 1930s and ’40s and are reminiscent of early quilters’ designs, when color and fabric options were limited.
What it’s worth: $150 to $450
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When it comes to the nostalgia factor, nothing tops an original concert poster, and the bigger the name (read, the Beatles!), the better. Appraiser Helaine Fendelman advises that framed posters are more desirable and bring in the higher end of the $100-$1,000 range, although those of bigger headliners may bring much more at auction—a poster for a 1966 Shea Stadium Beatles concert sold for $137,000 earlier this year.
What it’s worth: up to $25,000
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Milton Bradley Board Games
When young lithographer Milton Bradley founded his Springfield, Massachusetts-based printing business, an English board game he’d been introduced to by a friend was very much on his mind. He decided to launch a U.S. version of the game, The Checkered Game of Life, in 1860. The risk paid off in a big way, and so began his company’s new direction and the eventual introduction of more than 1,000 games. Some were based on traditional card and parlor games, some gave a nod to cultural themes (money during the Depression, patriotism during war times), while others banked on characters from pop culture (think Superman or Charlie’s Angels). When it comes to resale, sealed, unopened boxes often double the value, but the retro nostalgia of childhood family nights equals dollars for most titles.
What it’s worth: $10 to $800
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Federal Style Bull’s Eye Mirrors
These gilt-framed bull’s eye mirrors are often capped with an eagle, which was a popular patriotic motif of our then-newly independent country. It’s also thought that the 13 balls around the edge symbolize the 13 original colonies. Mirrors of the actual Federal period date to 1780–1830 and fetch top dollar, while nice 19th- or early-20th-century “in the style of” examples sell for much less.
What it’s worth: $100 to $10,000
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Art Deco Clocks
Small wall and desk clocks in the Art Deco style reached peak popularity in the 1930s and ’40s. Their shapes and materials reflected the opulence of the era—think mirrored faces, gold accents, and geometric designs that mimicked the skyscrapers popping up in major cities at the time. Many clocks can be found for under $50, but higher value models by esteemed makers like Westclox and Telechron can reach nearly $1,000 in value. (Tip: they’re super easy to spot. The maker name is usually shown on the clockface itself.)
What it’s worth: $25 to $1,000
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Still holding on to your old lunch box? Boxes featuring Roy Rogers, The Beatles, The Jetsons, and even Rambo can score a lot of cash.
What it’s worth: Up to $3,100
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Duck decoys became highly collectable in the mid-20th century and prices have never been higher for pristine items. If you’ve inherited one, you could earn up to hundreds of thousands of dollars at an auction. Read further for more specifics on what makes for a valuable decoy.
What it’s worth: Up to $650,000
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Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ Vinyl Record
If you’ve hung onto this popular 1967 record from The Beatles, you could be in luck. Copies of the album have brought up to $290,500 at auction, although most sell for a couple hundred dollars.
What it’s worth: Up to $290,500
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When pegging the value of baseball cards, the general rule is that the older they are, the more they are worth. There are a lot of nuances that determine a card’s worth though, so if you’ve come across a hoard of old cards, it’s worth getting them appraised. Based on variables like condition, player, and year, a card can be sold online for thousands of dollars.
What it’s worth: Up to $3.2 million
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Ozark Tourist Pottery
These mini vases measure just four inches tall but pack a decorative punch. Made by Morton Pottery, they’re just one example of the earthy swirled pottery popularized by Midwestern and Ozark-area makers like Niloak and Nemadji in the 1920s and ’30s. Often sold as roadside souvenirs, these colorful vessels are widely known as “tourist pottery.” Larger vases (12-plus inches tall) with maker’s marks can be worth upward of $300.
What it’s worth: $15 to $350
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The plush collectable toys that were popular in the 1990s have massive resale value on sites like Ebay, especially if the tag is still attached and the item is in mint condition. While many are only worth a few dollars, some of the limited edition toys have sold for up to half a million dollars online. For example, one of the original Beanie Babies—a lobster named Pinchers—sells for $35,000.
What it’s worth: Up to $500,000
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RCA Victor Radios
Founded in 1919 as a subsidiary of General Electric, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was a pioneer in the radio industry. In 1929, RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company (known for the Victrola phonograph), creating RCA Victor and launching their presence into consumer radios. The company followed its original Radiola line with Art Deco-style console and wooden radios that dominated the marketplace in the ’30s and ’40s. Plastic was all the craze post-WWII, and RCA answered with sleek, colorful tube radios make of Bakelite and, later, other nonresin plastics, like this trio pictured.
What it’s worth: up to $4,000
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Super Bowl Memorabilia
If you were lucky enough to get your hands on a pair of Super Bowl tickets back in the day, you could earn a big payout from holding onto them. Most of these paper tickets have a blue or yellow stripe on the top which, according to Sports Collectors Daily, sell for between $200 to $1,000. If you held onto tickets with white stripes on top, you could make up to $4,000. Of course, it depends on the popularity of the game, as well. Super Bowl II and Super Bowl XII tickets are particularly rare.
What it’s worth: Up to $4,000
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Vintage clothing and accessories, such as scarves, handbags, and belts, can bring prices in the thousands, and even the tens of thousands if they bear a designer name such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Chanel. (A limited edition Hermes Birkin bag sold for $125,000!) Less-famous name-brand items can be snagged at more affordable prices. “The key is condition,” says appraiser Bene Raia. “Look through all the layers of the fabric to make sure there are no moth holes or damage. Then find a great dry cleaner.”
What it’s Worth: up to $20,000
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American Girl Samantha Doll
Samantha is one of the original American Girl dolls, and if yours is still in good condition with her original clothes and accessories, she could go for thousands of dollars.
What it’s worth: $600 to $3,300
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Hubley Cast-Iron Doorstops
In 1894, John Hubley founded the Hubley Manufacturing Co. in Lancaster, LA. Initially, the company made wooden toys, but by 1909, they had moved into cast iron and aded decorative items such as banks, door knockers, and the very popular figural doorstops. Cast of molten pig iron and scrap iron that was poured into a sand mold, the hand-painted doorstops came in a wide range of subjects including dogs, houses, fictional characters, and dozens of blooming flower baskets. Today, doorstops with original paint regularly bring up to $400, but rare shapes can bring thousands. A Hubley giraffe doorstop recently sold for almost $11,000! (Tip: Look at the back for either a three-digit pattern number or the word “HUBLEY” to know if you have the real deal.)
What it’s worth: $50-$10,000
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Handwoven Persian rugs appreciate a lot over the years—although it takes a long time for that to happen. That rug your great-grandparent purchased may just be worth something now. Rugs that are more than 100 years old are considered antiques and their price is determined by size, material, knot-density, condition, and design.
What it’s worth: $1,000 to $1 million
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Of course, as with anything, rare comic books hold more value than common editions. In fact, a rare copy could be worth millions. But don’t fret: More common books could still make you hundreds. Not too bad. Also keep an eye on the latest superhero movies when digging through your vintage comic books. This summer’s release of Marvel’s Eternals means a rise in popularity and price for the series (up to $1,000 for a pristine, never-read issue #1).
What it’s worth: Up to several million
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They might hold your pocket change, but old banks hiding out in your home might be worth a lot more. Though a simple piggy bank might not get you far, if you have something with a mechanical feature, you could be in luck. The Mechanical Bank Collectors of America have been seeking out these contraptions since 1958.
What it’s worth: Up to $2,500
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First Edition Books
Looks like being a bookworm could pay off. If you happen to have a first edition of a popular book, go ahead and dust off the cover because it could net you thousands of dollars. Sites like Biblio can help you determine potential values.
What it’s worth: $15,000+ (depending on how popular/old the book is)
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You might not want to eat that box of cereal that’s been hidden away for decades (for multiple reasons!), but there are collectors out there looking to buy vintage cereal boxes. Special edition boxes or cereals that are no longer in production could earn you big bucks, so now might be the time to bust out that E.T. cereal you’ve been hiding away.
What it’s worth: $100+ (based on rarity of cereal or box)
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Lionel Train Sets
Young inventor Joshua Lionel Cowen launched his then-New York City-based Lionel Manufacturing Co. in 1900 with a standard gauge electric locomotive. After World War II, Lionel expanded its O-gauge steam locomotive offerings, including a series of “O27” gauge train sets, like the one pictured here. Priced as low as $19.95, the starter sets had plenty of tempting add-on cars and accessories that could be acquired year after year.
What it’s worth: Up to $500
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Vintage-style ads are popular for home decor , making actual vintage advertising signs highly sought after as well. Everything from soft drinks to gasoline can get you paid. (This is especially true for anything with Coca-Cola branding.)
What it’s worth: Up to $15,000
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Boy Scout Collectibles
There’s a real online market for Boy Scout collectibles, such as uniforms, equipment, commemorative items, and badges. Some badges sell for up to $30 a piece on eBay, while a first edition of the Boy Scout handbook recently sold for $2,200 online.
What it’s worth: Up to $2,200
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The Brooklyn-based Royal Typewriter company introduced their portable version in 1926, and the serial number on this Quiet De Luxe model dates it precisely to 1957. While other companies made portables—Remington, Underwood, Smith Corona to name just a few—none could compete with this one. Designed to minimize the clackety-clack of the keys, it was the top of the line at the time, says antiques expert Helaine Fendelman. But the real page-turner is its color. Common black models don’t go for much, but colors like turquoise and the rare bubblegum pink are very popular. Because many examples still exist, scratches and dents would devalue the piece considerably.
What it’s worth: $375