8 surprising household items that are worth a fortune…

By Anya Meyerowitz/ House Beautiful

Before you throw anything away to make room for the hoards of gifts you’ll be receiving this Christmas, make sure you’re not accidentally getting rid of something that’s worth a fortune.

We spoke to author and expert, who buys and restores vintage items, about the things most of us all own that are unexpectedly valuable. Some of them are baffling, some shocking and some are just down right bizarre – but they’re all things found lying around people’s homes, garages and attics.

Who knows, you could be sitting on a gold mine…

  1. Old tools. Though you might not think it, old tools can be worth quite a bit. “Stored away at the back of the shed, you may find old tools that were handed down to you years ago. An antique plane can reach a few hundred pounds,” says Kate.
  2. 1980s Atari games. Sure, we may not think of gaming as a lucrative hobby but it turns out some people are willing to pay a lot of money for certain games. “Who knew that there are people out there collecting Atari consoles from the 1980s?” Kate muses, “We didn’t when we bought one from a jumble sale but then went on to sell it for over £250. Check your parents’ garage to see if they kept yours!”
  3. Coloured Pyrex. Perhaps the most surprising of all the items Kate told us about is this one – coloured Pyrex. One day you’re cooking your breakfast in it and the next pocketing £300. “Vintage Pyrex is really popular as it often comes in pretty colours which brighten up your kitchen. However, some rarer styles such as the Gooseberry Cinderella mixing bowls can be worth over £300 for the set!” And the buyers are? “These are mainly bought by Americans though so you would need to sell them through eBay”’ Kate explained.
  4. Woolworths art. Although Woolworths is no longer around, the ‘typically tacky’ 1960s artwork that it sold is – and it’s fetching rather a lot more than you would think. ‘Though it was tacky then it’s on trend now – it’s the type of item people chuck into a car boot sale but it can actually fetch up to £180.’
  5. Kitchen sideboards. This is a bit of a strange one but that surface you chop, peel and bake on could be worth more than you think. Okay, we’re not talking millions, but the correct make could be worth a few thousand. Kate reveals: “I once had someone bring in a Beithcraft teak sideboard. At the time we just bought it because it looked pretty. We didn’t really know what it was worth but we sold it for £1,200.”

6. The family record collection. Records may seem like an obvious one but many aren’t valuable at all. ‘While some 1980s records are not worth much and often seen being sold at car boot sales, earlier and rarer vinyl can be very collectable,’ Kate explains. So look out for picture discs and also early Beatles albums which can be worth over £100.

  1. Your mum or grandma’s wedding dress. “Vintage wedding dresses are very desirable especially if they are pre-1950s and in lovely condition,” Kate explains, “Often, they have been stored away with the matching veil and accessories and if you can find a photograph too of her wedding day, then combined they may have a value of £500 plus. A 1930s dress and veil can reach £750 – £1,000.”
  2. Costume Jewellery. We’ve all seen it – the garish plastic bangles often handed down among pearls and pretty silver rings – and one well-known auction house said they even end up in children’s jewellery boxes. For example, a plastic brooch bought in a charity shop in Cambridgeshire for £1.50 sold for £2,400 at auction – so it’s worth a look. “Bakelite and Triffari are good brands to look out,” Kate advises, ‘but be wary, it may not look like much.’

Maybe it’s time to clear out the attic, eh?

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