Investing in antiques might not be the fastest or easiest way to make money, but sometimes taking the unconventional approach can pay off. Who hasn’t heard tales of the lucky somebody who found out that the wooden chest they were using as a TV stand was actually worth millions at auction? We can all dream that our homes are full of treasures, but the trick is in knowing exactly what you should be looking for.
Children’s toys are expensive when they’re released, then drop significantly in value once the craze has died out. But then, just to taunt us all, the price can rocket back up again and before you know it you’re haunted by that teddy bear you threw out which would now be worth thousands.
It’s so easy to let things get away when you aren’t aware of how much they are worth. Robin Darvell from Canterbury, England knows that all too well. Ten years ago, he bought a job lot at an auction for $46. He took the box of oddments home and amongst other items he discovered a small postcard-sized painting which he put away in a drawer for a few years. Remembering the painting years later he thought he recognized the work as that of John Constable. He approached fakes and forgeries experts and they told him that the painting was, in fact, an original by Constable – and would be worth around $390,000 at auction.
You don’t need to get randomly lucky like Mr. Constable; some things that plenty of us have stashed away could be worth a pretty penny. So, if you’re feeling like earning some extra cash, then keep your eyes peeled for the following eighteen items that could lead to quite the payday.
18. Original Cabbage Patch Kid – $1,200 +
In 1978 an American art student named Xavier Roberts created a line of soft sculpture dolls which were originally called the “Little People”. The idea was that they could be adopted rather than sold, and each doll came with their very own birth certificate for the owner. After the name was changed, the brand went on to be one of the biggest trends throughout the 1980s – almost every household had a Cabbage Patch Kid.
The original line of Cabbage Patch Kids have now become a rare collectors item and auctions online can break into the thousands. So don’t forget to check the date on the birth certificate that belongs to your doll as it might be time to put them up for adoption again.
17. Dan Byl Artwork – $1000 +
Dan Byl is a contemporary artist who has won over a dedicated following with his paintings. The majority of his artwork sells between $500 – $1000 but some pieces can fetch as much as $5000 at auction.
Byl was practising dentistry during his younger years; he then passed an art shop one day and went inside to buy his first blank canvas. Since that day his obsession with painting has taken over and between the years of 1995 and 2000 he painted numerous canvasses. He was given a recommendation to begin selling his art on eBay and this won over millions of fans from all over the globe.
Collectors love to get their hands on his work and are more than willing to shell out big money for originals. His work is mostly valuable to his own followers; someone who has never heard of the artist may easily discard his work and that’s your opportunity to grab it and start up a bidding war.
16. WWF Hasbro Figures – $1,000 +
If you have a boxful of Series 1-5 WWF Hasbro Figures getting dusty in the attic; then bring them down and book yourself a holiday because avid collectors will spend hundreds on just one figure alone. Several figures, boxed and in immaculate condition can fetch at eBay auctions upwards of $1,000.
Hulk Hogan, British Bulldog and Big Boss Man are all popular favourites; also if you spot a series 4 Miss Elizabeth figure in perfect condition (wearing the rare purple skirt) you can make upwards of $1500 at a private collectors’ auction. Even if you don’t come across these particular items remember to keep your eyes peeled for Mattel WWE figures too; these can also be sold for over $100 to beady-eyed wrestling fans online.
15. Pokemon Cards – $1,500 +
Remember when your parents would tell you to stop wasting your pocket money on Pokemon cards? Well, if you kept hold of them then you really would be striking it lucky today. An Ancient Mew card will fetch $1,500 at auction – which is not too bad for kids collectables, right?
A first edition Charizard can also bring in over $300 and a mint condition, first edition Pikachu can also be sold for upwards of $200.
The big money sale would be if you came across a Japanese illustrator card of Pikachu. These were made in 1998 and can fetch up to $100,000 at auction. Don’t set your heart on this, though, as only four exist; but if by a miracle chance you happen to stumble upon one: even in damaged condition it will sell for a minimum of $5000.
14. Adidas Sneakers – $1500 +
There are some collectors who are fanatic about the history behind one of the biggest sportswear brands in the world, and they will pay well over the average asking price to complete their rare collections of retro gear.
Currently on eBay, selling for $1,500, is a pair of the original issue Adidas Rom sneakers from 1977. So get the lids off those boxes in the attic and have a good search through old clothes because clearly what is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
The most expensive sneaker ever sold at auction was a Michael Jordan-autographed pair of Air Jordan 1s sold on eBay – the pair went for $60,000. Whoever the lucky buyer was, it’s a safe bet they don’t wear them out the house much.
13. Vintage Teddy Bears – $1,500 +
That scruffy old teddy bear you threw out because you thought it looked nasty? Big mistake! There are plenty of private dealers and collectors who will be more than willing to snatch your old teddies out of your hands and the older the better. It will be hard to tell how much your bear is worth at face value, but any respectable antiques dealer will be able to identify from the label, buttons or stitching if you’ve got your hands on something really special.
So dust off the old childhood favourites and see if you have a beloved bear that’s worth thousands.
12. Castle Greyskull Limited Edition – $2,000 +
Castle Grayskull will take you back to your childhood when epic battles between good and evil would take place. The first playset was released in 1982 with a very simple design of two hollow green halves that could be used for either role playing or storage; most fans of the He-Man series will immediately recognise the hinged ‘Jawbridge’.
If you’re in the mood for spending a fancy and expensive trip down memory lane, there is a limited edition original Castle Grayskull Exclusive 4-Pack Gift Set which includes He-Man. It’s a factory-sealed box that will only set you back around $2,200. There are, of course, plenty of other versions online that can go for as little as $10; but there’s nothing quite like the original.
11. Apple iPhone 2g 1st Generation – $2,500 +
Not even ten years ago, in 2007, Apple released the very first iPhone. Now, it has become a collectors’ item that many technology-fans want to get their hands on. Time magazine named it the Invention of the Year in 2007.
Sales for 1st Generation 4GB Apple iPhone’s range from $1,500 – $3,000. You probably sold yours to a friend for a tenth of that, right? This iPhone is now considered by Apple as ‘obsolete’ which secures its status as a ‘vintage item’ – yes, that is how fast technology is moving; 2007 is now vintage.
10. 1960’s Barbie Doll – $3,500 +
Barbie, the world’s most-loved fashion doll, was first released in 1959. The brand, launched by Mattel Inc, estimated that there are over 100,000 avid Barbie collectors worldwide. 90% of those are women aged 40 plus.
Although the first Barbie was sold for $3.00, an auction in 2004 saw the same doll, in mint condition and boxed, sell on eBay for $3552.50. The world record for the most expensive sale of a Barbie doll was in 2006 at Christie’s in London for $14,000. Mattel have released several collectors’ edition Barbies over the years to try and arouse the interest of their loyal collectors but none have been as successful or as sought-after as the originals.
9. LEGO Sculpture Sets – +$4,500
Whoever said that LEGO is just for kids sure hasn’t tried to complete one of the puzzles from the LEGO Sculptures edition. The first to be released in 2002 was the Red Baron plane; shortly after came the Taj Mahal, Volkswagen Beetle, Eiffel Tower and the Grand Carousel.
These sculptures sell for thousands on eBay, as they are very rare collectors’ items. As long as they are boxed and there are no missing pieces, buyers worldwide are looking to snatch this item out of your hands for big money.
Was this the puzzle you found too frustrating to complete and threw it to the back of the cupboard? Well, now is the time you should be looking for it again.
8. Batman Comics – $5,000 +
Batman first appeared in his own self-titled comic in Spring 1940 and he is still one of the most recognisable, relevant and bankable comic book characters. This first issue also featured new characters that were soon to become DC favourites in their own right; Catwoman and his eventual enemy, the Joker.
The issue can still command thousands at auction and often sells for upwards of $5,000. The most expensive comic book ever bought was a copy of Action Comics No.1 – the first comic book to ever feature Superman – and it sold at auction for $1 million. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even in mint condition.
7. Antique Jewellery – $10,000
There is big money spent on modern jewellery with diamonds worth thousands bought at auctions every day. But there is still a lot of dollar thrown around when it comes to the old, vintage classics.
A Tiffany ring from the 1920s can sell at auction for around $20,000. Popular pieces are often signed by the designer or have a distinct and recognizable style. In 2008 at Christie’s in London, a diamond which originated from the Indian Kingdom of Golkonda sold for an eye-watering $22 million.
6. Coins – $15,000 +
Coin collectors are always on the lookout for rare pieces that will help them complete their collections. If you have an item that they’re in need of to complete a collection, then you will be able to command quite a price. Often the most sought after coins are those which circulated for only a short amount of time or were limited editions.
These items may not have appeared to be worth much at the time, which is why they’re often found in drawers of old antiques or in vintage coat pockets.
Coin collecting has been a hobby that people have enjoyed since the 14th century; it was once mostly enjoyed by those in privileged positions such as Kings and Queens.
5. Rare Beatles Vinyls – $15,000 +
The Beatles released their ninth studio album, Yesterday and Today in 1966; however, the album cover caused quite the controversy. The cover, now known as ‘the butcher cover’, featured all five members dressed in white coats holding decapitated baby dolls and meat. 750,000 copies with this cover had to be recalled, so this particular vinyl and cover is extremely rare.
4. Beanie Babies – $30,000
Don’t get too excited – most of those Beanie Babies you spent years collecting are still probably worth next to nothing, with auctions on eBay starting as low as $0.50. However, you might want to take a look at your collection again, because if you’re in possession of a first edition Princess Diana Beanie Baby with the PVC pellets inside, then you’ve just landed yourself an impressive pay day.
This rare edition was released in 1997 to help raise money for the Princess Diana Memorial Fund, and only 100 were ever made in the world.
The Ty Warner Inc company created an empire from the Beanie Baby toys worth over $6billion; they boosted their popularity and exclusivity by ‘retiring’ certain editions and making them highly collectible, but the bubble burst around 1999.
3. First Edition Novels – $75,000 +
First edition novels are like gold dust for private book collectors and they are willing to throw big money at the right titles. Let the searching begin, because if you have any first editions of the following titles then you could be bringing home a big wedge of cash.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1901) and The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925) will fetch around $75,000; Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence (1922) sells at auctions for around $90,000. The two you really need to be looking out for are The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902), which will bring home around $125,000, and Ulysses by James Joyce which can fetch up to $150,000. If only the authors were around to appreciate these big numbers.
2. Star Wars Original Movie Posters – $100,00 +
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens due for cinema release this December, a whole generation of younger fans will be joining forces with possibly the largest and most dedicated fandom in the world. Star Wars memorabilia can be bought for any price; there are so many fans worldwide that you are almost guaranteed to find a buyer. But there are certain items that will need to go to the right person: a very rich one.
eBay user Mrs.Miniver has such a large collection of original Star Wars movie posters that she can comfortably command the price of $345,000 for the full set. Even in her product description she recommends investing in Star Wars instead of the stock market – and maybe that’s not such bad advice after all. Make sure you check every poster tube in your attic, because any original movie poster belonging to this franchise can fetch huge amounts of money at auction.
1. Honus Wagner Baseball Card – $500,000
In the 1930s, cigarettes were sold with collectable baseball cards which featured the name and picture of current stars in the field. Most cards were distributed in their thousands – all except for one. Honus Wagner ended production of his baseball card because he was concerned that children would be tempted into buying cigarettes to get his picture – so there was only ever 40 of his card ever made.
In 1991, one of the cards was sold to ice hockey players Bruce McNall and Wayne Gretzky for $451,000. The pair then resold it in 1995 to Wal-Mart and Treat Entertainment for $500,000, so they could use it in a promotional campaign. Many owners of this precious collectors’ piece have remained anonymous, but the highest sale recorded to date was by a private collector who paid a staggering $2.8 million for the card.
If, by some miracle, you come across this card then run to your nearest luxury antique dealer as soon as possible. But be warned – there are plenty of fakes out there, which can be expected when something rare is worth so much to so many.
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