With autumn upon us, homeowners may be dusting off the cobwebs from old collectables or other forgotten treasures hidden in wardrobes, lofts or cupboards to spruce up, make space and prepare for a new season.
You might be surprised to learn that some of the bits and bobs you have lying about your home are not rubbish and may be worth some cash.
Catherine Wilman, a management support officer who lives in Lincoln, found this out when she cleared out her mum’s attic and discovered her dad’s vintage turntable from the late 1960s. Still in its original packaging, the Goldring Lenco GL75 turntable wasn’t in pristine shape, so Wilman said she didn’t think it would fetch much.
“It sold for £104. Considering its condition, I was expecting around £50 when I put it up for auction on eBay,” said Wilman. “Selling the turntable was fun.”
5 valuable collectables that could be in your home
From kitchenalia and beloved old toys to antique furniture, glass and art, there are a handful of items in your home that could be surprisingly valuable, said Tracy Martin, a TV presenter, author and off-screen specialist valuer on BBC One’s The Bidding Room, in an email interview.
Here are some of the collectables to keep an eye out for as you declutter your home this autumn.
1. Vintage toys and action figures
Vintage toys are big business in the collectables market at the moment, with toys from the ’60s and ’70s being the most desirable. “Die-cast cars made by Corgi, Matchbox and Dinky Toys are among the most valuable, depending on their condition,” said Martin.
For example, licensed Corgi cars, such as The Green Hornet or Batmobile, boxed and in mint condition, can sell for £350 or more, Martin said. Sindy dolls can sell for anything from £50 to £1,000, depending on the doll and clothing, she added, pointing out that Sindy’s US rival fares even better.
Thanks to its smash-hit namesake movie, Barbie dolls are highly desirable. An original Barbie released in 1959, known as the No. 1 Ponytail in a black-and-white bathing suit, sold for a gobsmacking US $27,450 in 2006. Other Barbie dolls that are rare or were limited editions can go for £1,000s.
Additionally, rare action figures from blockbuster movie franchises like Star Wars are popular collector items that die-hard fans cannot resist. A Star Wars figurine from 1979, the Rocket Launcher Boba Fett, sold for a jaw-dropping US $204,435 in 2022.
2. Mid-century Scandinavian furniture
Thanks to their sturdy craftsmanship and sleek, no-frills design from a bygone era, Scandinavian furniture from the mid-20th century is also a hot commodity in modern home decor.
“Good designer names can fetch a pretty penny,” Martin said. “Recently, a set of six Danish dining chairs by Hans J. Wegner for Getama (1970s) sold for just over £1,000, and teak sideboards can make between £400 and £700, depending on design.”
3. Glassware and barware
Mid-century Italian glass is another hot-ticket collector’s item and varies in price depending on age, condition and glassmaker. Pieces made by glassmakers on the island of Murano, near Venice, do well on resale.
Meanwhile, vintage cocktail shakers, drinking glasses and other barware are also popular. Martin gives the example of cocktail shakers from the 1920s, which sell for £500 or more, depending on the maker and condition.
4. Old-school tech
In the late 1970s and the 1980s, cassette tapes reigned supreme. First released in 1979, the Sony Walkman was the most popular cassette player of its time, and some models can fetch upwards of £1,000 on eBay.
When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, it changed the game. Since then, 15 generations of iPhones have been produced, however, the original iPhone is still in demand among Apple collectors. Unused, first-generation iPhones (still in the box) are listed for as much as £5,000 on eBay. If you have other old iPhones stashed around your flat, you could sell them for £100s.
5. Fine jewellery
Fine designer jewellery is highly sought after among collectors and can turn quite a profit.
Perhaps that’s why eBay UK recently expanded its Authentication Guarantee programme to include new and pre-owned fine jewellery sold for £500 or more on its site, according to a company news release.
The guarantee comes from gemologists at GIA, a global authority on gems, who independently verify the authenticity and value of luxury jewellery pieces sold on the site.
More than 600,000 listings of fine jewellery, on average, are visible on eBay UK each day, according to the release. While tennis bracelets and diamond rings are among the most popular jewellery searches on the site, Tiffany and Co., Cartier, Chanel and Van Cleef & Arpels rank among the top-selling jewellery labels, eBay UK found.
“Jewellery has always been popular on eBay, and there has been a noticeable increase in demand for both new and pre-owned pieces over the past year,” said Tirath Kamdar, global general manager of luxury at eBay, in a statement.
Before you sell, do your research
The best way to figure out an item’s value is “research, research, research,” Martin advised.
“Value is all in the condition, maker’s name, quality and rarity value,” she said.
Generally with collectables, the better the condition and rarer it is, the more the item is worth.
Check the internet to see if similar items have sold and what the sales price was. Read up on your item and gain as much information as you can from the internet, books and speaking to reputable experts and dealers.
Mass-produced items typically don’t command as high of a price tag, though. “Take, for instance, Royal Doulton character mugs and Toby jugs. These items have dropped significantly in price and aren’t worth as much as they used to be,” Martin explained.
Where to sell collectables
If you choose to sell items yourself, eBay, Etsy and Gumtree are user-friendly online options. Keep in mind some of these sites can take a cut of your sales, and you’ll pay for shipping or postage to send them to the buyer.
Speciality collector websites or local shops that specialise in a genre (such as a shop selling rare furniture) are another avenue to consider selling collectables.
But if you’re looking for a high price tag for your valuables, the best place to sell could be a reputable local auction house. These usually provide a valuation estimate for items at no cost if the items are valuable and align with their areas of speciality.
However, if you go this route, you’ll need to check the various fees you’ll have to pay which can mount up once you pay the seller’s commission, VAT, insurance, shipping and storage costs. While these will vary the seller’s commission alone can be 15% or more of the final (hammer) price, plus VAT.
“They do all the work, including cataloguing and photographing the item, then sell it and the buyer collects,” said Martin, adding that an auction house is the best way to get the highest commercial price.
Image source: Getty Images
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