Check those storage boxes—these items could be worth a small fortune.

By Roxanna Coldiron
January 14, 2020

People often store items in the attic and forget about them. Many of us have ventured into the attic and looked around at the collectibles gathering dust without realizing that many of those bygone items could be valuable. Maybe our families held onto keepsakes for their sentimental value, or perhaps you simply found it too difficult to part with the items. Either way, you might want to spend a few hours going through those dusty boxes—some of those items could be worth thousands of dollars.

Yasu + Junko

"There are some unlikely items in people's attics that can turn out to be valuable," says Nicolas Martin, flea market expert and founder of Flea Market Insiders. "The odds of finding something valuable in your attic are much higher than winning the lottery!" So, you might want to take the time to sort through the collectibles in your attic to find these forgotten treasures. You can find out if an item is potentially valuable by doing an online search as your first step. Martin recommends that you do some research to know what would be a fair price for your item. "Online valuations via Google, eBay, and the like provide useful feedback on quality and resale potential. But appraisals can also secure insurance and satisfy curiosity," he explains.

Talking to experts and certified antique appraisers will help you to verify the value of an item so that you can get the highest price available if you choose to sell it. Martin says that Pyrex cookware has sold for $4,000 for one bowl that had the coveted "Lucky in Love" heart and four-leaf clover design. Unless you know what to look for, you might not realize that certain items could bring in a lot of money for you. But it's always a good idea to follow Martin's advice and research whether an item has any value as a collectible antique or not. What you find might surprise you!

Related: How to Store and Organize All of Your Prized Collections

Vintage Perfume Bottles

Perfume bottles are a popular item for collectors. In fact, there is a whole organization devoted to antique perfume bottles called the International Perfume Bottle Association. Vintage atomizer perfume bottles and Victorian bottles with elaborate designs can sell for hundreds of dollars. And Czechoslovakian fragrance bottles from the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression eras are also in high demand.

Original Barbies

Go to eBay and see how much a Barbie doll can get. Right now, the 1979 Barbie She's A Royal Beauty (#1039) is fetching a rate of $8,500. Whole collections of Barbies range from $500 to $7,000 on eBay. Barbies in their original boxes tend to get a higher value than those that have been opened or played with. So, if you find your grandma's 1950s Barbie doll in great condition in your attic, you might be able to sell it for a few thousand dollars at an antique auction.

First Edition Books

The first edition of a book is special and not just for the author. If you find first edition books of classics or best sellers, you can sell them for thousands of dollars. The rare first edition of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is currently going for $15,235 on Abe's Books. And the first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) is priced at $5,310 on eBay. Books that are in like-new and excellent condition and that have author signatures also have a high value for collectors.

Pyrex Cookware

Although it was originally created by Corning Glass Works in 1915 and later rebranded as Pyrex, most people refer to these baking dishes as Pyrex regardless of when it was made. Pyrex used to be the brand of choice for cookware. Now it is worth a lot of money for those who get in the antique collectible scene. For example, the Turquoise Sunflower Pyrex Mixing Bowl Set is going for $8,901 on eBay right now. While almost any vintage Pyrex item could appeal to collectors, the most in-demand Pyrex cookware come from the late 1940s to the 1980s.The better the condition of the cookware, the higher the value.

Vintage Comic Books

Before there was streaming television, there were comic books. These serial graphic stories told visual tales of superheroes, aliens, high school kids, and detectives. You can check the Comics Price Guide to get started on valuing any comic books that you find in the attic. According to GoCollect's Most Popular Comic Books List, the Amazing Spider-Man issue #300 has sold at prices ranging anywhere from $230 to $2,050.

Related: How to Tell If an Item Is Made of Real Gold

Old Technology

Vintage phones, typewriters, and electronics can all fetch high prices in the antique market. At The Old Phone Shop, Western Electric phones sell for hundreds of dollars. The Western Electric Wall Phone, Model 317 is marked at $899, and the A1 Telephone with 295A Subset Ringer is going for $2,499. A 1916 Underwood Typewriter restored vintage typewriter is being sold for $3,750 on eBay right now. Do you have old computers lying around in the attic? Apple's original Mac computer sells for around $100 to $300 on eBay but has been known to sell for as much as $900,000.

Old Photographs

Those black-and-white and sepia photographs that you can find in boxes and old albums in your attic can also be worth a lot of money. People love to collect vintage photographs of former eras because it's a great way to connect with history. Original photos of famous people or iconic cars are in demand, but photos of unknown people can still fetch a good price. A Civil War Tintype Photograph Confederate Artillery Soldier is going for $986 on eBay, and an original 1920s framed photo of a jazz girl is valued at $111.

Silver Flatware

Maybe Ariel from The Little Mermaid was onto something when she held the "dinglehopper"—or, fork—in such high esteem. Your silver spoons, forks, and knives in the attic could be very valuable in the antique marketplace. The King Edward by Gorham Sterling Silver Flatware Set for 12 Service (89 pieces) sells for $5,350 per set on 1stDibs, an online antique and fine art marketplace. You'll first want to verify if an item is real silver, though. Silver flatware that wasn't mass produced tends to be more valuable. Certain designers and manufacturers also fetch higher prices.

Costume Jewelry

This might come as a huge surprise, but there is indeed a market for old costume jewelry. One of the most popular antique costume jewelry brands is Bakelite, an early plastic resin that could be easily molded and polished into beautiful bracelets, brooches, and beads. Bakelite jewelry came out in the 1920s but saw a rise in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. How much are they worth? Well, the Vintage Art Deco Butterscotch / Egg Yolk Amber Bakelite Beads Necklace sold for approximately $2,256.40 on eBay. Other pieces are only selling for $25 to $50. If you find costume jewelry in your attic, research its designer, maker and dates to find out if it could be worth something.

Musical Instruments

If you know anyone who's a musician, then you know how much high-quality musical instruments cost. Guitars and pianos can sell for high amounts of money in the antique marketplace. According to the Reverb Price Guide, a Bourgeois Country Boy Deluxe 2003 Natural can sell for over $2,000. A Nord Electro 3 SW 73 keyboard fetches over $1,000. You'll want to research the type, make and model of your instrument to find out its potential value. The Bluebook of Pianos can give you a good idea of the valuation for your vintage piano. A Steinway & Sons Satin Ebony Grand Piano in great condition, for example, could sell for $65,600.

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