Want to turn trash into cash? For some of these household items that people are likely to have just lying around, selling them off can lead to some serious cash flow. We’ve ranked all of the top-earning antiques, from Christmas ornaments to sewing machines and much more, to show how one person’s clutter can quickly become their own treasure. And some of the most lucrative items may be quite surprising.
24. Old Cereal Boxes – $100+
We bet that no one ever expected cereal to cost so much. But when it comes to old cereal boxes, antique collectors are willing to pay top dollar to get their hands on sugary snacks of the past. They have actually become a pretty popular collectors item in some circles.
In fact, collectors will pay even higher sums if they can get their hands on unopened old cereal boxes. So if anyone has an old box, it could be worth $100. If not, stow away a box now and hope for the best in 50 years. Here’s to hoping that none of these collectors actually try to eat that half-century old cereal.
23. Record Player – $130
Records have begun to make a slight comeback, as a younger generation of music lovers are rediscovering the joys of the past through antique devices. But for those who find an old record player laying around the house and are not interested in using it, know that these machines can be sold for a pretty penny nowadays.
Vintage record players can be in high demand, especially if they possess a particularly special or unique feature. For example, a record player that allows records to slide in rather than the typical open-top device can fetch a higher payday. Record players with an AM radio function are also sought after.
22. Old Stetson Hats – $175
People can find old, discarded treasures in their home and, at the drop of a hat, they can end up raking in a pretty surprising paycheck. But among all of the old hats that someone can find, the one worth the most is by far the Stetson.
This hat is the original design manufactured by John Batterson Stetson in 1865. Stetson was said to have created “the original hat of the pioneering American West,” and was known as the “Boss of the Plains.” After 154 years, the company became the largest hat distributor in the world. But a vintage version is infinitely harder to find and much more expensive.
21. Vintage Weather Vane – $200
Do not worry, all of those years of keeping that big, clunky, old weather vane around the house have not been in vain. Apparently, certain antique weather vanes could actually fetch a handsome sum at some antique auctions. It all depends on a few factors.
The whole point of a weather vane is to keep it outside to monitor changing winds and upcoming storms. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of these vintage contraptions are a tad beaten up after weathering the elements. Depending on the age of the vane and the amount of rust, a good antique weather vane could earn an owner hundreds.
20. Rocking Chairs – $200
We are going to need to take a seat for this one. According to auctioneers, there’s plenty of demand for old rocking chairs among antique buyers. So anyone who has one of these quaint seats relegated to a forgotten corner collecting dust might want to take it out of retirement.
Depending on the chair’s craftsmanship, an antique rocking chair can fetch hundreds at antique auctions. The same can be said for a lot of old wooden furniture pieces that have withstood the test of time. As long as it is still in good shape, owners could end up getting a good payoff at any antique auction.
19. Soda Crates – $200
As the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But in this case, even with nothing inside, old crates that once held soda could earn an antique seller hundreds of dollars. These glorified boxes have become a big draw for the more nostalgic antique enthusiasts out there.
But in order to really cash in on these soda crates, sellers have to make sure they have the right ones. A “newer” soda crate, like the ones from the 1950s and the 1960s, is only worth about $20. But older designs can bring in up to $200, and about 12 sodas.
18. Yo-Yo Quilt – $275
There’s a specific type of quilt that many would be able to find in their grandparents’ homes. Made up of a bunch of circles cut from different fabrics, yo-yo quilts used to be all the rage. The blanket trend started in the 1930s, and its unique design was named after the yo-yo toy that the small circles closely resemble.
Any fabric enthusiast who has one laying around might want to consider selling it, since they could pull in nearly $300 for one quilt. Now, we know what everyone must be thinking: why would something that is barely even a blanket and barely even comfortable worth that much? Truth is, we are not quite sure.
17. Cast Iron Mailbox – $350
Remember when mailboxes were cool? Okay, fine, neither do we. But apparently, for some niche antique collectors, mailboxes are a hot ticket item, and people are willing to drop hundreds to get their hands on an old mailbox, particularly the kind made from cast iron.
Some of these antique mailboxes date back all the way to the early 1900s. And if they have made it this long without getting rusted or broken, then that could be a treasure you’ve got right there outside the door. Unpainted ones that show the cast iron details usually earn the highest bids: oftentimes coming in around $350.
NEXT: These antiques are some of the more unexpected earners on this list.
16. Portable Sewing Machine – $500
No need to sew on the go? Then maybe consider getting rid of that old portable sewing machine. It could clear up some space, and earn a seller about $500. These antiques are like many of the ones people are used to seeing, but they usually come with a leather case that makes carrying them around a bit easier.
Portable sewing machines were first produced in the 1920s, but were not practical since they were so heavy. During the Great Depression, a lighter version was introduced and caught on, as making clothes at home rather than going out shopping became the most sensible option.
15. Typewriter – $550
Not everyone is the type to use a typewriter. It has been decades since these machines were popular, made utterly obsolete by the rise of the personal computer. But over time, typewriters have become a huge collectors item, and a favorite among the antique collecting community. So don’t just write off that old typewriter laying around the house.
When it comes to selling typewriters, there are a few things to look for. First, the typewriter needs to actually function, in order to secure the maximum paycheck at an antique show. Many typewriters might look great, but if they don’t work, they won’t be worth much. Interestingly enough, typewriters that are not the normal black color are also more sought after and will bring in higher bids.
14. Milk Glass Easter Eggs – $775
Anyone trying to hatch a plan to get some extra cash might want to look and see if they have any milk glass eggs hidden somewhere. While these antiques might be small in size, the payout for an entire set of milk glass eggs could be pretty huge.
Back in the Victorian era and a bit afterward, milk eggs were all the rage around Easter time. These trinkets were usually sold blank and were then hand painted as a holiday activity. The delicate eggs often became scratched or broken over time, but anyone with an egg that is intact and in good condition could have a crack at making over $700.
13. Old Perfume Bottles – $1,000
Smell that? That’s the smell of money, honey. Even if an old glass perfume bottle has no more perfume left in it, it could still have a lot of money-making power packed inside. There are even antique auctions that are completely devoted to selling off old perfume bottles.
For some old perfume companies, bottles were hand-carved and custom-made, and some came in limited-edition bottles with rare scents. Have an old perfume bottle around and not sure if it will make the cut? Curious potential sellers can check the International Perfume Bottle Association website (yes, this is a thing) and see which ones are in high demand.
12. Video Games – $1,000
Selling antiques is not all fun and games — unless, of course, selling antiques includes selling off some old games, specifically video games. Finally, all those years of hoarding video games might just pay off, and for some games, that pay-off could be pretty massive.
Even while gaming systems have upgraded significantly since some of these games have been on the sales shelves, they are still in high demand from collectors. When it comes to selling these cult classic games, the older the games, the better. Some Super Nintendo games have sold for hundreds of dollars, while even older games have gone for $1,000. Collectors are not playing around.
11. Silverware – $1,100
What’s so exciting about old silverware? Well, for some antique collectors, the cutlery of yesteryear can be highly sought after. Some sets of particularly desirable brands, such as Tiffany’s, can score a seller over $1,000 if it is in good enough condition.
There are a few factors when considering how much antique silverware will sell for. A lot of silverware is in fact not silver; rather, it is silver-plated. Any potential seller should make sure that their set is completely silver if they want top dollar. And, luckily enough, most silverware that is 100% silver will have a “Sterling silver” marking on it.
NEXT: We would not have guessed these antiques would be so hotly sought after.
10. Dollhouse – $2,000
When many people think about dollhouses, chances are they see them as being mere children’s toys. But think again. Dollhouses, despite the name containing the word “doll,” were never really meant for children, at least not antique dollhouses. The attention to detail and care that went into building some of these old dollhouses is meant to be appreciated by adults.
Dollhouses have been around since the 17th century, and many of the older versions come with hand-painted wallpaper, as well as intricately-crafted wood furniture and silver detailing. By the mid-19th century, dolls took up residence and children started to play with these masterpieces.
9. Toy Coin Banks – $2,500
People have been keeping their spare coins over time in coin banks for decades. But maybe some of these people should consider just selling the actual coin bank if they really want to make a few thousand bucks. Some of the oldest or rarest versions of these banks are worth way more than whatever they could contain inside.
To determine if an old coin bank is worth its weight, check for any markings, dates, or logos. Also check for any scratches or chips in the paint, which could drive down the potential resale value significantly. With the right toy coin bank, a seller could be looking at a $2,500 pay day.
8. Metal Lunch Box – $3,100
Metal lunch boxes used to be all the rage, starting in the 1800s. During the 1850s, school children and workers alike began to walk around with metal boxes for their lunches. Over time, matching drink flasks were paired with them, and by 1935, the first lunch box with a character was introduced and featured Mickey Mouse.
Over time, character lunch boxes became increasingly popular, with basically every cartoon character on TV proudly displayed on these metal tins. Today, metal lunch boxes have become collectors items. Boxes that feature Mickey Mouse, The Jetsons, and figures like Roy Rogers earn top dollar at auction houses.
7. VHS Tapes – $13,000
Stuffed in the back of closets in many homes around the United States, spring cleaners might find a handful of VHS tapes stored away or pushed back over time. But before they get brushed aside, once again, only to be dealt with another time, check out some of the titles on these VHS tapes. They could be worth more than many might think.
For example, the Black Diamond edition of Beauty and the Beast is always a good find, since it can be worth over $5,000. Other movies that have gone on to be valuable VHS tapes include Getting There with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (worth an estimated $1,500), and a limited release of Halloween once sold for a massive $13,220.
6. Louis Vuitton Trunk – $15,000
It seems like there are some people out there who make a trip to the airport an entire affair, with chic but comfortable outfits and sensible yet aesthetically-pleasing luggage. But if anyone thinks luggage has become a new frontier for fashion, consider looking back at other decades.
When traveling was even more expensive than it is today, even the luggage was lavish. Back in the early 20th century, Louis Vuitton created a stylish set of steamer trunks. If anyone has a set of these trunks that are still in good condition, they could be looking at raking in a sum of over $15,000. But keep the trunk for a second to stack the cash in, just for dramatic effect.
NEXT: There’s a high chance you might actually have some of these antiques lying around the house.
5. Christmas Ornaments – $18,000
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to make money. While rummaging through a packed box of Christmas ornaments, make sure to pay careful attention to some of the older ornaments in the box. Those antiques could actually be worth a lot of money.
The first glass ornaments were made in the small mountain village of Lauscha, Germany in 1550, and the tradition has snowballed ever since. The first American-made glass ornaments were later created in 1870, many of which were hand-blown. The latter type in particular can now fetch a pretty big sum. A vintage, German, pear-shaped ornament was once sold for $18,000.
4. Star Wars Figurines – $30,000
There is no predicting when a movie will become a cult classic. And for the creators of the Star Wars franchise, no one could have had the slightest inkling that it would go on to become the Guinness World Record winner for “Most successful film merchandising franchise.” That is in part due to these ultra-collectible figurines.
Several months after the first film debuted, limited-edition Star Wars figurines began to be sold in stores. Over time, these items became a favorite among antique collectors. Some of the highest earning Star Wars toy antiques include the original “farm boy” Luke Skywalker model, a vinyl-capped Jawa, and a “double telescoping Obi-Wan Kenobi” figurine made in 1978.
3. First Edition Books – $423,000
Imagine going to the bookstore and finding out that a book someone had their eyes on would cost them $15,000. Maybe not worth it? But for more serious book collectors, the investment is definitely worth getting their hands on a first edition novel.
The price that one could get for a first-edition book definitely depends on the popularity of the book itself. For example, a first edition copy of James Joyce’s Dubliners fetched $423,644, but that is an extremely rare find. Many more common ones will sell for tens of thousands of dollars if the pages along with the book jacket are in relatively good condition.
2. First Edition Apple Computer – $900,000
In 1976, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs released their first-ever computer, the Apple Computer 1. The computer only had 4 KB of memory. At the time, no one could have known the immense scale of the giant empire this one computer would eventually build.
Today, Apple Computers are among the most in demand in the world, and even as new models come out, there is none that is more valuable than the Apple Computer 1. One working Apple-1 was sold in October 2014 at an auction for $905,000 to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and another is being auctioned for over $1 million.
1. Tiffany Lamp – $1 million+
Time to finally shine a light on the most valuable antique around, and that would be the famous Tiffany lamps. These well-known antiques are named after their creator, Louis Comfort Tiffany, who was famous for his absolutely beautiful stained glass mosaic lamps.
The first Tiffany lamp was made in 1893 and these intricately-designed antiques have been hotly sought after ever since. For those lamps that are still in good condition, they can be sold for upwards of $1 million. The highest price anyone has ever paid for one of these lamps was $2.8 million at a Christie’s auction in 1997.
Honorable Mention 1: Quarter – $100
Usually when coins are worth a fortune, it is because they are really old. But in the case of a very special set of not-so-vintage quarters, these coins are only from as recently as 2005. So what exactly makes them so special?
Their value can be credited to a bit of a fluke. In Kansas, which was producing Kansas state quarters, the coin pressing machine was malfunctioning. Instead of pressing “In God We Trust,” like what can be found on most quarters, it pressed “In God We Rust.” Turns out, we can’t rust machines! Now, these very coins can be sold for up to $100.
Honorable Mention 2: LIFE Magazine – $113
Ever been to a doctors’ office only to find that all of the magazines on the coffee table are months, even years, out of date? Well, instead of being upset, maybe take a look through them and call up an auctioneer.
Some of the most rare Life Magazines can be worth a fortune. Depending on the number of copies printed, the condition, the date, and whoever is on the cover, selling a Life Magazine can not necessary set someone up for life, but it can sure make life easier. A single 1969 Life Magazine about Woodstock originally cost 40 cents, and was sold years later at an auction for $113.
Honorable Mention 3: Polly Pocket – $450
Back in the 1990s, everyone was obsessed with Polly Pockets. The toy, which was considered at one point to be “Barbie’s baby cousin,” came with a tiny carrying case that opened up to be a dollhouse that could fit in the owner’s hand.
In 2018, Mattel began to sell Polly Pocket toys again, complete with their adorable carrying cases, but an original can land a toy collector a ton of money, especially if anyone owns a Polly Pocket that was produced by Bluebird Toys, before the product was sold to Mattel. One of those pre-Mattel toys went for over $450 online. That’s some pretty good cash to line someone’s (Polly) pocket.
Honorable Mention 4: LEGO Sets – $450
Okay, so LEGO toys are not exactly “vintage” or “antique” the same way that many items on this list are, but some of the LEGO sets that could be lying around the house are still worth looking into. Especially some of the more rare or unique LEGO sets.
For example, A LEGO Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix set that features the Hogwarts Castle has sold for $450. Other sets are not so lucky. Others, like some of the Toy Story sets can sell for $100. Regardless, selling some of these sets are worth the pain of stepping on a LEGO or two.
Honorable Mention 5: Fountain Pen – $950
Take out a pen and write this one down. Even some of the most ordinary things can earn a person some real money, including old fountain pens. These specific pens have become a collectors’ item over the years, and some of the most sought after can earn someone close to $1,000.
Some fountain pens can be worth hundreds just because they are a rare make or model. Others earn major paydays because they were used to sign something particularly special or were once in the possession of someone like a president or other diplomatic figure. One fountain pen recently sold at an auction for $950.
Honorable Mention 6: Boy Scout Memorabilia – $1,100+
Scouts honor, it is worth it to hold on to old Boy Scout uniforms. From the clothing to the badges to just about everything else, the memorabilia from the Boy Scouts has been known to land sellers a surprising amount of money, depending on the age and condition of the item.
A single badge, if it is rare enough, can earn someone a few hundred dollars. But an entire set of old badges? A seller could be looking at a huge pay day that could earn them well over $1,000. For example, the controversial Dixie Scout badge that has been retired has been sold anywhere form $500 to $1,000.
Honorable Mention 7: American Girl Dolls – $1,800+
American Girl Dolls were once one of the most popular dolls in the United States. Today, they are still iconic and expensive, with dolls costing a eyebrow-raising $98. But for some of the more rare American Girl Dolls, $98 would be quite the bargain.
One of the most popular American Girl Dolls named Samantha sported a pink dress, maroon hair ribbon, and long, dark hair with bangs. The Edwardian-era inspired doll was discontinued in 2009, but then appeared back on shelves in 2014. But anyone with the original 1986 version of Samantha can earn a whopping $1,850 for their little piece of history.
Honorable Mention 8: Original Barbie Doll – $10,000
The Barbie dolls that have become iconic staples of American (and world) history began as a crazy idea in 1956. By 1959, Ruth Handler had created the first Barbie doll, named after her daughter, Barbara. The original doll was debuted at the American International Toy Fair in New York.
The original Barbie was available in two hair shades, blonde and brunette, both sporting a black and white striped bathing suit. That original, first edition model is now known to be worth a pretty penny. If anyone has one of these in mint condition laying around, and in the original box, that small doll can be worth up to $10,000.
Honorable Mention 9: Vintage Sign – $165,000
Vintage signs are relatively new to the old antique world. They have been growing in popularity in recent years, as more and more people are choosing to decorate their homes, back sheds, and other places with vintage signage. Because of this, their costs have doubled and even tripled over the last few years.
The most expensive vintage sign ever sold at $165,000. It was an old, glass sign for Rock Island Railroad, and was estimated to be from 1890. Other signs, depending on their condition, can run up to $15,000 on eBay. In this case, finding one in good condition could be a pretty good sign for what is to come.
Honorable Mention 10: Old Baseball Cards – $3.12 million
Really want to hit a home run in the world of antique collectibles? Well, prepare for an all star pay day if anyone has some of the most sought after baseball cards. Depending on the condition of the card and the rarity of it, a card could be worth millions.
Here are some of the top earners that are worth a surprising amount: The 1909-1911 Honus Wagner baseball card, of which there are only 25 copies, was once sold for over $3 million, while a 1952 Micky Mantle card sold for $2.88 million and a rookie Micky Mantle card sold for $750,000. That’s a lot of money for just one card.
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