In a previous article of ours, you’ve seen that some collections can turn out to be surprisingly valuable after enough time has passed and that some just remain sentimentally valuable at best. Here is another collection of collections to help you sort through the treasures in your dragon’s lair.
Rare Cookie Jars
Cookie jars used to be a common sight in many of America's kitchens, though it's clear their time has passed. Now we simply keep our cookies in the box they came in. Plenty of us still have memories of reaching in and finding a fresh cookie for an afternoon snack. But if you still have one of these lying around, keep reading.
According to Reader's Digest, a number of these classic items from the 1950s sold for around $1,200 (an “Uncle Mistletoe Marshall Fields” cookie jar). Other jars, usually in the shape of a widely recognized character, can reach prices of several hundred dollars.
At almost 6 feet wide, this circa 1924 Tudor was the biggest ever built by the venerable British toymaker Lines Bros. In those sizes, it could also house a small family pet, not just dolls. Expertly designed by carpenters and engineers, this grand dollhouse features shrunken versions of then-contemporary flowery wallpaper, stucco walls, and mullioned glass windowpanes.
Vintage toy collectors and aficionados with a flair for classics would be willing to pay some serious money to get their hands on an original in good condition. Similar, smaller dollhouses by Lines Bros. and other makers are worth much less but still appeal to collectors.
Fender & Gibson Guitars
Okay, so you don't need to be a genius to guess that a good guitar is worth a lot of money. The new thing can be pricy enough as it is, let alone a functioning vintage piece. Vintage guitars made by Fender and Gibson, the two biggest ax brands, are worth quite a bit. The more vintage the guitar, the more it's worth it.
A nostalgic item is a good item – a Gibson Les Paul made in the '50s can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Famous guitars are worth even more; like John Lennon's Gibson J-160 Acoustic-Electric guitar sold in 2014 for the biggest number on this entire list: $2,266,970.
Morton Pottery made these mini vases. They are just one example of the earthy, swirled pottery popularized by Midwestern and Ozark-area makers like Niloak and Nemadji in the 1920s and '30s. Even though they only measure four inches tall, these pretty cases pack quite the decorative punch.
Often sold as roadside souvenirs, these colorful vessels are widely known as "tourist pottery." This means that there are loads of unoriginal pieces out there, so be aware of that when you buy one or offer one for sale. Larger vases (12-plus inches tall) with maker's marks can be worth upward of $300.
While duck decoys are no longer used today because of advances in decoy materials and technology, these wooden duck decoys are now considered highly collectible. There are entire auction houses dedicated to buying and selling vintage duck decoys, known as magnificent works of folk art.
Duck decoys became highly collectible in the mid-20th century, and prices have never been higher for these items. If you've inherited one, you could earn up to hundreds of thousands of dollars at an auction. It's an oddly specific item to collect, but hey, if people are willing to pay, we wouldn't miss the opportunity to sell one.
A Rare Edition of "Harry Potter"
The Harry Potter series has delighted millions of kids and adults the world over, and plenty of us have a copy of one book – or all seven – on their shelves. But it turns out some of the original copies of the first book are worth more than their weight in galleons.
Hardcover first edition printings of the 1997 book have become the biggest prize to Harry Potter collectors, worth anywhere between $40,000 and $55,000, but how can you tell? Look for a print line that reads “1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1,” and for one “Joanne Rowling,” not J.K. Rowling.
Vintage Soda Crates
Sure to be the most surprising item on this list, old wooden soda crates can command a pretty penny. You won't be buying a Mercedes with the earnings, but some Coca-Cola crates top out at almost two hundred bucks, with a yellow wooden crate from 1948 going that much on eBay.
But even the weather-beaten offerings can bring in a hundred. There's even a crate from the 1920s that has been listed at $125! Is it just for the rarity? The retro style? We can't be sure for now. It couldn't be too hard to make one of your own.
The Polaroid has made its way back into popular culture, which means that vintage Polaroid cameras have jumped up the worth-it market. These items are cool throwbacks to having to wait a little bit longer — you didn't have to get them developed, but you still shook it just like the song says.
Some have gone for a few hundred dollars, and a Polaroid 120, made in 1960, has recently sold for $420. As the digital age moves on to bigger and better things, sometimes something as retro as a flash of light and a printed picture are worth something after all.
We're reaching a little higher up the pay scale with this entry. Lunch boxes have been classy collector's items for years now, since they are a perfect snapshot of the culture at the time of their release, featuring TV shows, rock bands, and celebrities, and they can turn out to be worth something wild if they are in good condition.
A vintage Bonanza lunch box brings in $130, and even a battered Beatles box can be worth about $400. Maybe keep some of your kids' plastic lunch boxes around, because who knows – one of them might be worth something.
Antique dealers have a big eye for these old pieces of word processing power. These important relics used to clack away in every office and house, long before smartphones or computers. There wasn't even a delete key! These are starting to give vinyl records a run for their money, and have started to command large sums.
Branford House Antiques sells items like these, and while one went for around $7,500, that's not even close to the highest price one of them can command. The Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, known as the “Rolls Royce of typewriters,” can be worth up to $100,000!
These items are becoming a hot commodity. Again, it's dependent on the brand and model – for example, a rare, vintage black Chanel alligator evening handbag is listed on eBay for $15,995. Is there any space in your yearly budget for that kind of item? We didn't think so.
The bag is even pre-owned and was made between the years 1984 and 1986. If you're trying to save, an authentic vintage Gucci handbag is selling for only $12,000. As you can tell, the thing that brings in the most cash is the designer name – it can't just be any old bag.
You may have had one of these toys, and you may have found yourself getting bored with it after a few days of taking care of a small, annoying, electronic creature. It landed stateside in 1997 and sold for between $15 and $18 at retail. But now an original Tamagotchi has a listing price of $4,000 (colors are red and white if you are interested) on eBay.
A few others have been sold for $2,000 (white and green colors), and an ultra-rare white is selling for $1,629.99. Exorbitant prices for a bunch of beeping and digital poop. Good thing now you can just download an app.
Milk Glass Easter Eggs
These delicate novelty glass eggs were originally sold blank so that Victorian ladies could embellish them with spring greetings and pictures. Sounds like quite a wholesome pastime if you ask us. Eventually, the sentiments were often damaged by washing or handling, as is the case with many other handmade crafts.
These eggs were also quite useful at the turn of the century. While the item was only egg-shaped and not an actual egg, the resemblance was good enough to fool actual hens. If hens were not laying eggs, one could put these eggs under the hen, encouraging her to produce.
Steiff Teddy Bears
You probably had one of these fine friends from one brand or another when you were a kid, something to hold during the dark nights and keep the monsters under the bed at bay. If you stayed as loyal to this toy as it did to you – and it's a specific brand – it may have one last, monetary gift for you.
Steiff bears are known as the original teddy, and plenty of them have reached a vintage status, which means cash. A fluffy Louis Vuitton-clad Steiff Bear, for instance, sold for a record $182,550 at a charity auction.
We doubt you have one of these hanging around in your home since most of the singing we do is in the car or the shower. But if you happen to have a real retro microphone, you could be sitting on some sudden cash. Exceptionally rare pieces such as the Neumann U-47 from the 1940s can, in fact, be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Much to our surprise, one on eBay recently sold for $9,999. Of course, a microphone in poor condition – or the wrong model – is probably not even worth a hundred dollars, but there's always a chance.
Vintage Bands Tees
If there's a market for old beer cans and cereal boxes, you can bet vintage band shirts command a high price. They serve as bookmarks in the annals of music history, such as The Beatles' 1966 “Butcher” album cover, which was immediately withdrawn, which made it to a t-shirt in the 1970s, eventually selling on eBay for $595.
An original 1987 Guns N' Roses t-shirt from their Appetite for Destruction European tour sold for over a thousand dollars and the most valuable item is a Nirvana In Utero tour shirt given to crew members who helped, which went for almost seven thousand big ones.
Small desks and wall clocks in the Art Deco style peaked in the 1930s and '40s. Their shapes and materials reveal the opulence of the era — think gold accents, mirrored faces, and geometric designs that imitated the rising skyscrapers popping up in major cities at the time. So generally, nothing like any clock you have seen lately.
The price tag on these bad boys won't really make you rich, but they can still be worth something. Many clocks can be sold for $50, but higher-value models by esteemed makers like Westclox and Telechron can reach nearly $1,000 in value.
First Edition of "Where the Wild Things Are"
We all know how crucial it was for us to get a bedtime story before we went to bed when we were kids. Do you guys remember this book? Well, it was the real deal back then. In 2012, a signed 1963 first edition of this book by author Maurice Sendak was sold on Abebooks.com for a whopping $25k.
We are in awe because the book was in extremely good condition. One that looks like it’s brand new, which would be surprising because picture books rarely survive out there without it getting ripped, smudged, smeared, stained, bitten, or otherwise abused.
While we now have an entire generation that has never inserted a CD into a player, there are still plenty out there for those who want to rock. While these pieces may seem outdated now, you might not want to toss them out before checking the prices. They haven't reached vinyl levels, but a few famous discs command lofty prices.
For example, Michael Jackson's signature series disc from 1993 has gone for around $1,400, and Coldplay's first public release, the Safety EP from 1998, has gone between $1,000 and $1,500. Take a look through your collection for some albums that might be gold.
Vintage Levi’s Jeans
Just pants, you might say, but not so. A vintage pair of Levi's are a hot collector's item that is likely only going to increase in value as time goes on, but for the right pair, of course — pairs manufactured before 1980, especially Levi's 501s, are the big seller, though older pairs also might end up making your bank account happy.
A pair of 1950 Anniversary Levi's jeans sold on eBay for $8,000. While the jeans, being old, are pretty brittle and probably uncomfortable, they are still a classic piece of American style to add to your special outfits.
These furry guys did not last too long inside their boxes if you got one as a kid, but an original 1998 edition of the walking, talking friend still in its original packaging has an asking price of $1,000 on eBay as of May 2019. While many parents found this toy unbelievably annoying, they were not cheap back in the day.
The demand drove up the price to around a hundred dollars. Tiger Electronics revamped the toy in 2012, renewing interest, which likely gave a quick start to the prices you'll see on eBay and elsewhere for a simple toy.
Vintage Fashion Accessories
It is now time to take a little peek in Grandma's closet! Vintage clothing and accessories, such as jackets, scarves, shawls, boots, and belts, can bring value in the thousands, and even tens of thousands if they carry a designer name such as Paco Rabanne, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, or Chanel.
It might be difficult to part with such special items, but when you think of the fact that they can cover an unexpected portion of your rent, it makes things a little easier. While the less-famous name-brand items can still be sold, their condition is key to how much they would bring in.
Folk art and equestrian paintings reached mainstream popularity in 19th-century England, but horses and their riders have added proper flair to gallery walls all over the globe for hundreds of years. This category is popular for experts and art lovers alike, from formal jockey portraits to action-filled depictions of traditional fox-hunting excursions.
While it can't be just an obscure painting of a horse done by an unknown artist, the right kind of equestrian painting may fetch some good money. Large oil paintings with original ornate frames garner much higher values, while smaller examples in simpler, more primitive frames bring less.
When it comes to nostalgia, nothing beats an original concert poster, and the bigger the name, 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 an auction.
For example, a poster for a 1966 Shea Stadium Beatles concert sold for $137,000! This makes you wonder if maybe you should snag yourself a poster from whatever live concert you're going to next. Who knows? Maybe a couple of decades from now it could pay for a new kitchen!
Well, of course, coins are worth money, that's the whole point. But some coins – rare, misprint, what have you – can be worth way more than you think. In 2007, antique dealer Jeff Bidelman of “Rare Collectibles” was asked to look through an abandoned house by the late owner's daughter, and he managed to find a buried treasure.
It was a collection of 200-year-old coins that ended up being worth more than $200,000, hidden in a hole in the wall of the house. Coins seem to be on the way out as inflation makes them less and less useful, but you might want to keep them around.
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 added decorative items such as door knockers and the very popular figural doorstops. While nobody uses a doorstop these days anymore (we just have better doors nowadays), these carry an attractive price tag.
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! Check the back for either a three-digit pattern number or the word "HUBLEY" to know if you have the real deal.
Monochromatic vintage coverlets are considered very rare and quite valuable. These back-to-basics patterns (usually a single color mixed with white) were widespread in the '30s and '40s and are a reminder of early quilters' designs when color and fabric options were limited. Interestingly, colors have a say in a quilt's worth.
The most valuable quilts in today's market are blue and white, red and white and red, green and white, in that order. Another consideration is how rare a quilt is. For example, during the Depression, many "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilts were made. One of these would be cool for your bank account.
There are plenty of ways to make sure you get the best bang for your bottle, from Dr. Lori on YouTube. A 1940s bottle with its full stopper and good design could get you up to $75, while a 1960s crystal bottle might get you $25 to $35 dollars, as long as it's real crystal.
Real crystal has lead in it, so it will be heavy, and it will be clear. Real early twentieth-century bottles are worth a whole lot more – a Rene Lalique bottle went for $80,000 recently. Be sure to pay attention to the brands of those old bottles.
Women's Suffrage Memorabilia
While "suffrage" sounds bad at first, since it's so similar to "suffering", it's actually a good thing — it's a milestone in women's rights, specifically in their right to vote. August 2020 marked the centennial of the 19th Amendment's ratification, which means "votes for women" collectibles are back in the limelight.
Items 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 probably worth much less. So, if you have one of those hanging around in your attic or basement, get it dated before putting it up for sale.
Oh baby, now we're getting into the good stuff! But don't pull your hair out if you gifted your mom's china set to a friend – any eye-popping number you may have seen online for them was for a one-of-a-kind Ming Dynasty teacup, used by an emperor sometime in the fifteenth century. If you really had one of those lying around, pull away.
Most vintage china teacups don't usually go for more than a hundred dollars, which is a nice sum but hardly a treasure. However, if they're old enough and in good enough condition, they can get closer to a loftier number.
1980s Boom Boxes
This piece of outdated technology goes even further back than CDs. Even if you're a bit older, you may have missed this fad, but boomboxes were the musical item of the decade during the eighties. However, a recent thirst for vintage items has boosted the prices here just like they boost the bass.
According to Metro, a retro Boombox Ghetto Blaster can sell for up to $1,600. While most people don't need an item like this, there was a time when these players took up every street corner and bedroom, and if you still have one, it could be worth it to dig it out.
If you think that old calendars are worthless, you may be on to something. After all, all they do is hold dates that have already passed. What is anyone going to do with a used one? Not much, it seems. But what about one featuring photos of Marilyn Monroe or a vintage “Star Wars” 1978 calendar?
Doing the research brings some bad news. Even a Marilyn pinup from 1956 sold for just under 50 bucks. And that “Star Wars” original? Well, eBay is asking for $12. Feel free to toss last year’s calendar if it’s still sitting around collecting dust.
Garden gnomes have been with us for a long time. First found in Germany and Switzerland in the 1800s, folklore propelled the popularity of these bearded little fellas. They were considered to bring good luck to gardens and farms. After Disney’s 1930 “Snow White in the Seven Dwarfs,” the gnome craze took off in earnest.
Are gnomes worth anything financially? Not really. The first-ever known garden gnome that remains is named Lampy. It was made in Germany in 1847 and is now living in Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, in the U.K. This rare treasure (unlike the one in your backyard) is worth £2 million.
Some people know their way around a sewing machine and have stacks of old patterns. A pattern for dresses, or any item of clothing, is printed on a large piece of tissue paper and kept around for when the creator wants to make more of that garment. A pattern is basically instructions to make clothing.
Sewing patterns are still for sale at craft or fabric stores. And though they may be valuable to use again, patterns do not hold much value. Except for a famous designer, which can bring in up to $50, as long as it’s in an unopened envelope. But who has unopened sewing patterns? Pretty much nobody.
Cabbage Patch Kids
Cabbage Patch Kids was a full-blown 80s thing. When the shelves emptied right before the holiday season in 1983, moms and grandmas would pay any sum to be able to deliver one of those freakish-looking dolls to their little one. Shockingly, Black Friday-like scuffles marred the holiday spirit at several major department stores.
Now, no one wants a Cabbage Patch Kid, and no one cares if it comes with a birth certificate. Once a treasure, that dingy doll at the bottom of the toy box is more suitably relegated to the trash bin. You can buy a new one at any retailer.
Julia Child’s Cookbook
Julia Child was America’s chef. She spent her time stationed in France with her husband learning how to cook. She went to the best chefs and developed her passion into a career. As the first of the celebrity chefs, she cooked for us on television, and it was wonderfully entertaining too.
The cookbook she put together while studying cuisine in Paris is called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” No matter how tattered and well-used, this book is a treasure. And not only for the exquisite recipes it holds. A copy with the original jacket is worth $2,000 or more.
Investing in fine wines is a very pricey endeavor. It is also a very intricate and knowledge-driven adventure. Knowing which wines will become more valuable over time requires a lot of research! To start, a bottle of investment-grade wine must increase in value after about five years.
Is it worth it? If one has plenty of disposable cash, sure, why not? A case of 1988 vintage Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has been sold for $305,000. An older case of Romanée-Contis has been sold for $1.98 million. It was a 1945 vintage. Only 600 bottles were made before the vines were destroyed.
The resurgence of interest in vinyl has inspired many people to bring out their old turntables or buy new ones. The excitement has created a plethora of used records for sale. Music labels and modern recording artists are even pressing new music on vinyl. That is not to say that all vinyl is valuable, though.
Coming across a first-edition Elvis Presley or Bob Dylan album, for example, would be like winning the lottery. But this rarity would also have to be in mint condition. Sentimental value aside, most vinyl records, it is sad to say, are so mass-produced they’re basically trash, especially if they are scratched.
Are old tennis shoes worth anything? Apparently, yes! Not only that but there is also a whole stock-market-like scene of sneakers that is incredibly elaborate. It all depends on the model, the year, and how worn out the shoe is. Adidas was the most popular name in footwear in the 70s before Nike came along.
Adidas is a German company, the largest sportswear company in Europe, and it came out with the classic three-stripe shoe design in 1949. A set of original trainers can be worth over a thousand dollars! One pair sold for $1,500. Treasure! The rarest is the Rimowa-edition “Pitch Black” Adidas.
Pandora Bracelet Charms
The Pandora bracelet trend was a smash in the mid-2000s (and still is for some). Adorable personalized trinkets were mixed and matched depending on the wearer's personality — kind of like removable tattoos if you will. Pandora charms were a perfect gift item for just about anyone.
Jewelry from one of the largest merchants of baubles should hold some value. Pandora charms go for up to $65, brand new. Old and discontinued charms are more affordable, from $10 to $20. You know the trend has trended toward the trash category when even discontinued pieces are worth only a fraction of new ones.
Like sports cards, markets are flooded with countless issues of recent comic books. With the huge demand for comic-related merchandise, publishers print in bulk. So, just like with many other items on this list, if there is a lot of it, it is probably not worth much.
Another factor is that characters in today’s editions lack the uber-popular appeal of a first-of-its-kind superhero, like Superman, for example. On top of that, Superman issues printed today are not valuable. If you have an original Iron Man or Thor, on the other hand, your book may be worth a million or more.
Movie posters can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, so if you have the right one, it could be worth a small-to-medium fortune. A poster for “Mummy,” a 1932 Hollywood classic film, went for $435,000. People paid thousands for others like the poster for “Casablanca” (1946) and “Dracula” (1931).
A “Pulp Fiction” poster sold for a bundle, as did a “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” But many of the newer movie posters only bring in high bids if there’s a misprint or other rarity. All those 80s movie posters like, “The Breakfast Club,” “E.T.,” “Ghostbusters,” and “The Outsiders” are not worth the paper they were printed on.
People who have held onto textbooks from college may as well keep holding onto them. Recycling is also an option. A textbook is valuable, but only for a limited time. You know, with new additions and all. Plus, so much of it is already online anyway.
While some old books are best to keep, textbooks are the opposite. They must be sold as soon as the course ends if any value is to come out of it. College students these days are fortunate. An Amazon app scans each text and gives its value. No more standing in long lines at the university bookstore.
Broadway Playbills, especially from opening night, used to be a popular item to collect. But now even vintage playbills hold little value. A signed “Hamilton” from its opening run went for just $50. The problem is that lots of people don’t care about collecting playbills. Blame it on the post-internet age of mainstream Broadway.
Antique playbills have not always been significantly appreciated, though rare and old items could help your yearly vacation budget. A “Romeo & Juliet” from 1821 at the Theatre Royal lists at $275. But a Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier signed playbill will fetch $1555. In general, playbills are a sleeper collection.
It may come as a surprise to some of you but board games are another item people collect. They’re a lot of fun to play and maybe, maybe, maybe they’ll be worth a bundle someday. Though, ironically, it's more likely they'll be worth something if they have NOT been played with.
Unfortunately, board games are not highly collectible items. Some names from the 1800s or early 1900s might hold value. Like “The Mansion of Happiness” from the 1800s, it sold for $1,250. Relatively, it’s not that valuable considering how old it is. It comes with ivory game pieces stored in a leather pouch and a hand-colored board.
Disney ‘Black Diamond’ VHS Tapes
“Black Diamond” VHS tapes from Disney hit the shelves from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. Reports on Facebook and other media tell people their Disney movies could be worth thousands of dollars. If you search eBay, you’ll find Disney VHS tapes listed for thousands.
It seems legit. Classic titles like “Bambi” or “Pinocchio,” released decades ago might be worth something. Frankly, however, the reality is, that they go for about a dollar each. Treasure or trash? It may come as a surprise — eBay is not immune to scams. And besides, even if you do get your hands on one of these, who even has a video player to play it?
These darling porcelain figurines were one of the most popular collector items in America. The Hummel figurines came from Germany in 1935, and the porcelain models were based on the artistic designs of a nun in Germany named Maria Hummel. For a long time, these things were really uncommon and therefore carried a hefty price tag.
The Goebel company manufactured the figurines throughout the 20th century. Folks would invest $5,000 to get a hold of an original. But then Goebel opened the floodgates and produced too many. A classic case of treasure to trash. You can buy one for a buck on eBay.
Norman Rockwell Decorative Plates
Artist Norman Rockwell painted idyllic American life. His artwork was so beloved it became an American institution. His creations are synonymous with “Americana.” He’s known for bridging the gap between an illustrator and a serious painter. High-brow art snubbed Rockwell’s work, but he illustrated Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” and he painted presidential portraits for Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson, and Eisenhower.
These plates feature Rockwell’s timeless American imagery. The singularity of his appeal stirs up nostalgia and radiates value, but it’s not real. Sorry, Boomers. Treasure or trash? Rockwell plates fall into the latter category. You can purchase one of these pieces for $10.
In 1977, the Apple II became the first commercially available Macintosh computer. It was stacked with 4 to 48kB of RAM, a 5-inch floppy, and topped off by a bulky monitor displaying exclusively green text. Mmm... That's the good stuff.
These days we plow through 50 kilobytes on a single file, the Apple II is a dinosaur. But guess what folks, this machine, manufactured by Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak is a treasure. A working Apple II was auctioned for $4,687. That's enough money to get whatever new iPhone is on the market now with enough change for lunch and parking!
British Royal Family Collectibles
British royalty memorabilia collectibles have been around for years and years. The Victorian era marked a change in production. It was so popular that collectible items were mass-produced for the first time. This move made lots of money for anyone involved in the production, but not much for anyone thinking of vintage value.
These mementos would seem to be historically valuable, but ever since the Victorian era, mass production caused value and interest to drop. Antique dealer Deric Blackler said that people bring in these types of items all the time and they are “quite surprised” to learn it is worthless.
Old College Pennants
University pennants used to be a common way for college students to cheer for their team and their alma mater. Attached to walls or even the ceiling, these pennants that are now vintage should be worth something. Right? Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all.
According to eBay, it is just not the case. But maybe in the future, the trend will turn back around. Now, we aren't saying you should get rid of this memento — what alum could toss out their college pennant anyway? However, don't hold your breath waiting for it to pay off your student loans.
Garbage Pail Kids Trading Cards
Garbage Pail Kids were a totally 80s thing. Part parody of the adorable Cabbage Patch doll craze, Garbage Pail Kids took it to the other extreme. Instead of adorable, they were disgusting, naughty, and cringe-worthy. Treasure or trash?
There was an Adam Bomb and a Corroded Carl card. The Garbage Pail gang might hang with the kids on “South Park.” The trading cards, believe it or not, are highly valuable, in actual dollars. A first edition 1985 Adam Bomb trading card went for $10,000 on eBay. A first edition Corroded Carl, even though it was issued in 2013, went for $6,000.
Model train sets range from a single track going around and around on the floor to rooms full of tracks, trains, and miniature cities. It all really depends on the level of enthusiasm you had as a kid and your parents' willingness and ability to fund it. In some cases, the love of the toy turns into a full-on hobby as an adult.
Model train enthusiasts spend countless hours and as many dollars enjoying their collections. But are they worth anything? Nope. Not really, the money put into the hobby will never be recovered. Selling the locomotives does not return the investment.
Mattel introduced the beloved die-cast cars in 1968 and kids have been collecting them ever since. There’s a famous hot pink VW bus with surfboards hanging out the back worth $150,000. There are several others priced at jaw-dropping digits, but don’t dig out your Hot Wheels collection just yet.
Almost all Hot Wheels are worth nothing more than a buck or two. The VW bus is valuable because it came from the original 1969 lot, and it was a misfit. Mattel slammed the breaks on production after it crashed and burned on the trademark yellow Hot Wheels track. That made it rare.
Polly Pocket toys are a gem of the 90s. The adorable little dolls came with their very own place to hang out and millions of teeny, tiny accessories that were almost too easy to lose. The internet says Polly Pocket sets are worth a lot of money.
Full sets of Polly Pocket in mint condition are rare, indeed. Most sets have been frequently and adoringly handled. Seriously, who has a set without a single shoe missing? But valuable Polly Pocket sets aren’t from Mattel. They’re from the original British toy line, Bluebird Toys. In 1983, Bluebird produced Polly Pocket worlds until Mattel acquired it.
Lego sets are a treasure in any kid’s toy chest. The pricey playthings come with a million tiny pieces that inevitably get scattered across the floor, where they soon turn into a real hazard for hapless parents rushing here and there. First a shriek, then a curse, you’d hear about it.
But we aren't talking about the generic packages. Think of the more elaborate sets. Perhaps it would ease their pain to know that a 5922-piece Taj Mahal now goes for $1,422. Another thing you might like to know is that a to-scale Eifel Tower (1:300) from 2007 will bring in about $1,455. Rare Legos are priceless!
When cassette tapes replaced those old 8-tracks, a fatter tape that played only eight songs, listening to music was revolutionized. A complete album would fit on a single cassette tape and the sound improved significantly. We could easily play those cassettes over and over, it even flipped to the other side, automatically.
Soon enough, though, it became clear. One wrong move and your brand new U2 album would be a tangled mess of twisted tape. Trash. So how could those things be worth anything today? They’re not. An entire boxful of cassette tapes can be had for less than five bucks.
What in the heck are Pogs? Stories about Pogs were circulating around the web saying that the cardboard disks were selling on eBay. Sets of hundreds and even thousands of the game pieces were changing hands. Pogs are a 90s game craze.
The little round disks were distributed on beverage lids. Kids found them on Passion Orange Guava juice, a Hawaiian brand, hence the acronym. The craze went wild. Kids collected Pogs from millions of beverage bottles. Though Pogs were all the rage, collectors hanging onto these collections are harboring a pile of junk. They sell for about twenty cents.
Coins From the Franklin Mint
It's weird to think that some of the coins in your wallet might be worth more than their current value someday. But the truth is, it doesn't happen to just every coin. Collectors buy money from the Franklin Mint. The coin pressers sell novelty items like gold-plated state quarters or Harley Davidson silver dollars.
The Franklin Mint has been selling coins since 1964, but not to the United States. Franklin Mint has no connection to the U.S. Mint. The Franklin Mint coins are great to look at, but they have very little value, even as a collection. And they are worthless if you try to cash them in.
A beautiful set of rocks including quartz and obsidian and amethyst, and all your basic minerals, stored inside that drawstring pouch is for keeping. Popular with children, the stash is a treasure, for sure. Assuming we are talking about sentimental values, that is.
If you are looking for actual value, however, rocks like these are not rare. An amethyst, for instance, is not going to be worth much until it is polished and shaped into a gemstone mounted on a pretty ring or another piece of jewelry. Even after it is prepared for jewelry, the cost is not usually beyond the $10 range.
American Girl Samantha
Samantha Parkington is an American Girl Doll whose story hails from all the way back in 1904. If you’ve been to the American Girl store or had to find a holiday gift list for a little girl, you’ll know that these dolls aren’t cheap.
But after they’re played with, how much can an American Doll be worth? A Samantha was one of the first American Girl dolls ever, introduced to children in 1986. Samantha dolls from that year are rare because it was discontinued in 2009. They sell for $1850. The next priciest is Molly McIntire, another original, that was discontinued in 2013.
Funko Pop Vinyl is a collectible doll based on pop culture figures, especially from the comic universe. The replicas are sold as collectibles.
If you have any teenagers, sci-fi lovers, or fantasy geeks in your vicinity, you have probably seen a few of those.
Buyer beware. It seems not even nostalgia can inflate the value of Funko Pops. Across the Internet, hapless Funko Pops collectors warn about collecting this Pop Vinyl. They say there is no resale value. But even if you are able to sell one, it’s not going to cash in more than $30. Another warning comes via Reddit. The feed warns, “You Should Not ‘Invest’ in Funko Pops.”
Now, the vintage toy market is quite a scene, but obviously, some pieces are worth more than others. Vintage Barbie Dolls from the original make with “1966 Mattel, Inc.” stamped on them could be worth something. But it’s not easy to distinguish since the same stamp appears on many later dolls.
And, of the vintage dolls, only certain Barbie styles are collectibles. In short, the Barbies stashed in the basement won’t qualify as treasure. The good news is that Mattel is now helping you get rid of your trash. Mattel PlayBack is a recycling program that converts your old dolls into Barbies for the next generation.
People hold on to magazines, stacking them in the attic or the garage. But the chance that a rare edition is in those stacks is very unlikely. In most cases, you are better off donating your pile to the nearest beauty salon or doctor's waiting room.
For a magazine to be valuable, it must be the first edition of the first printing of a particular magazine. Exceptions exist. For example, a very famous person like Marilyn Monroe on the cover sells from $15 to $75. The first issue of “Playboy” with Marilyn in the centerfold is worth much more, about $1,500.
Old Tiffany Lamps
These colorful mosaic lampshades are one of the most popular and recognizable lamps ever made. The Tiffany lamp was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the prominent New York City Tiffany & Co. jewelry family. He opened Tiffany Studios and manufactured decorative lampshades from the late 1890s through the 1920s.
These lamps are highly treasured, and not just for their beauty. Every Tiffany lamp is very valuable. Prices range from $4,000 to $1 million, though at least one went for over $2 million. That being said, there are many fake ones out there so look out for those. Imitations are worthless.
Sports Trading Cards
First-edition rookie cards would eventually be valuable because, during the player’s rookie years, their greatness is yet unknown. With only a handful left in circulation, values of the right names would shoot through the roof. Just think of the legendary Honus Wagner.
In the 80s and the 90s, however, baseball card companies glutted the field with so many copies of sports cards that they were left swimming in depreciation. Most sports fans would recoil at the idea of tossing their favorite cards into the trash, but that is what they’re worth. However, sports card trading is burgeoning, so who knows?
People throw cereal boxes away every single day. It goes without saying. Both kids and adults enjoy these little milky snacks for breakfast, lunch, or dinner more often than we care to admit. That's a lot of boxes. But then why are some people collecting them?
Yes, you read that correctly, people are collecting old cereal boxes. They’re literally stockpiling trash. It’s a niche group of collectors, but that doesn’t mean they’re in it for nothing. A box of Rice Honeys with a “Yellow Submarine” tie-in featuring The Beatles and a set of “rub-ons” from the movie sold for $1,430 at an auction by Heritage.
Serious stamp collectors are serious in their trade. Stamps that are valuable have been virtually unhandled for fifty to a hundred years. They must be stored and mounted in an archival-quality environment and in pristine condition. Stamps issued after 1960 have little value. A rare stamp is like striking oil.
For the average person, stepping into the level of stamp collectors is like showing up to play pro ball without any training or skill. Treasure or trash? Unless a stamp in a collection can be applied to an envelope and delivered by the postal service, it’s not going to have much value.
Costume jewelry must arise from at least 20 years ago to be considered vintage. To be antique, it must be at least 50 to 100 years old. Typically, antique costume jewelry styles like 1900 art nouveau, 1930 art deco, and Bakelite from the 1940s are the most collectible.
Costume jewelry from 100 years ago may be worth something, especially if stamped with big names such as Chanel, Tiffany, Dior, or the like. Costume jewelry pieces set in gems and precious metals are worth much more. A gem’s cut can increase value. Yet, in general, costume jewelry is not made with valuable materials.
Happy Meal Toys
Happy Meal toys have sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars, but that's not to say they're all worth a lot. McDonald's has been bribing children to eat their food since the 70s and some of these packages of toys still exist.
But how many of these boxed Happy Meals, in their original packaging, with the toys, never opened or played with do you think exist? The math here is pretty simple — the closer it looks to the original state it was when it was first sold, the more chances there are of it being worth some good money. Treasure or trash? You decide.
So, you left the tag on all your Beanie Babies because, when you bought one, it was true that snipping off that red cardboard “Ty” tag meant its value would drop 50 percent. Nobody wants that, right? We followed suit because experts insisted, that within a decade, our Beanie Baby would be worth bankable cash.
The Beanie Baby obsession was real. But what we did not know back then is that it was manipulated by Ty, toying with supply and demand. The company scammed us all. Treasure or trash? Now, these little stuffed creatures go for about $5 per one.
Though the car has long been sold, the plates to the vehicle are still stacked up in the garage. Why? because the owner of the vehicle once overheard something about them being worth some nice cash. Well, maybe that owner should have fact-checked things before deciding to clutter the garage.
Should people save old license plates? The short answer is — probably not. Unless you have license plates from the early 1900s up to the 1920s, you’re not sitting on a treasure. Most old license plates are just that — old — and they can be recycled at the DMV.
Precious Moments Figurines
All over collectibles websites, all across the internet, headlines detailing how much Precious Moments figurines (pictured here on the table on the right-hand side) are worth, are appealing to us. People are clearly attached to the adorable porcelain pieces from the 70s, but does it mean they are worth some good, unexpected money? Not exactly.
A quick browse down a collectibles database shows lots of Precious Moments all modestly priced. With price tags ranging from $20 to $50, they haven’t lost value all these decades later, but they are hardly worthy of being called a treasure. A treasured memory, perhaps.
Have you ever come across a wheat penny? It’s immediately noticeable with two sprays of wheat surrounding the words, “one cent.” They were minted from 1909 to 1956. Instinctively, one would keep these pennies if they found them.
Wheat pennies are more valuable than new pennies. The only problem is that since they are worth three to four cents more than their face value, you’d have to collect an awful lot of them to call it a treasure. Money being worth a higher value than it was originally made to be worth is too much of a confusing concept anyway.
PEZ Candy and the wonderful plastic dispensers available in every kid-favorite character known to man are a childhood wonder. After the candy is gone, you are left with a toy and a collection by default. All that’s needed are candies to refill the cartridge, except most just get a new dispenser anyway.
People hold onto these things, either nostalgically or because they think they might be worth money someday. While it’s true that an especially rare PEZ has sold at auction for money, most of the dispensers are better suited for the trash. Once the kid is ready to part with it, of course.
Star Wars Action Figures
“Star Wars” is a late-1970s phenomenon that keeps on giving. The movie was such a massive hit it created a fantasy reality in a galaxy far, far away in swaths of people. If you were a kid then, you would own at least one of the figurines. But the question is, did you keep it?
Treasure or trash? The average “Star Wars” action figure is only about $2 to $5. But a sealed dude made between 1977 and 1985 goes for $100 to $200. Prices soar from there. A double-telescoping Darth Vader from 1978 is valued at an astonishing $30,000.
Paintings by Thomas Kinkade
Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” realized early what people craved. Intuitively, his paintings depicted a world folk wished they lived in, and he churned out prints of cozy cottage townscapes by the millions. Sales at his nationwide chain of art galleries exploded in the 1990s. In 2001 it peaked, bringing in $130 million in sales.
Yet, by the time of the artist’s death in 2012, Kinkade Galleries was bankrupt. His glorious empire of art crumbled at his feet. Kinkade paintings are worthless. But don’t dump them in the trash just yet; his passing brings scarcity and scarcity creates value.
Do you have any Pokémon cards? Do you think they are valuable? Well, if the answer to both questions is yes, you might have some good instincts. Driven by the same appeal that sent the price of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards through the roof, some Pokémon cards are going for tens of thousands of dollars.
Settling between $23,000 to $25,000 on average, these pieces of decorative cardboard in mint condition are hot buys. What is the appeal? Nostalgia. Kids of the 90s are all grown up. They make investments now. For a former Pokémon kid, it’s a cool place to stash money.
Video Game Consoles
The gaming industry is booming. New releases of video game consoles have parents doing their best to keep their kid’s gaming digs as updated as the next kid’s. But in this case, is newer necessarily always better? Well, perhaps not.
Some consoles are quite valuable. A Nintendo Play Station sold at auction for $360,000, a veritable treasure. It is a Nintendo and PlayStation hybrid prototype. It seems like a lot of cash until you hear that a first edition “Super Mario 64” video game went for $1.56 million. It was a sealed copy and the first to feature 3D gameplay in 1996.
Beatles Chewing Gum Cards
Photos of The Beatles inside of bubble gum trading cards were printed in 1963. With Beatlemania in full swing, many a screaming teenage girl would collect and hoard the photos, especially because of the blue ink autograph on the face of the card.
A package of these rock and roll relics seems very valuable. But even a mint-condition set of Beatles cards barely makes a dent on eBay. In case you have an album of these sitting at home, waiting for its time to shine, don't hold your breath. Treasure or trash? You can buy one of “the Fab Four” trading for about a dollar on the auction site.