Ever looked at that old thing sitting on top of your bookcase and wondered “could I sell that for a huge payout, and retire to a mansion built on the back of a Beanie Baby?” We’ve all been guilty of that at some point in our lives. You’re probably familiar with some of the more obvious ones: the ancient comic books, the unwrapped collectors’ items, and of course the stuffed animals.
But here’s a list that will have a few extras you may not be expecting – from pristine pieces of pop culture to unexpected treasures you could find in the garage.
As high as $400
As high as $400 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’re a perfect snapshot of the culture at the time of their release, featuring TV shows, rock bands, celebrities, and they can turn out to be worth something wild if they’re 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 kid’s plastic lunch boxes around, because who knows – one of them might be worth something.
Ever looked at that old thing sitting on top of your bookcase and wondered “could I sell that for a huge payout, and retire to a mansion built on the back of a Beanie Baby?” We've all been guilty of that at some point in our lives. You're probably familiar with some of the more obvious ones: the ancient comic books, the unwrapped collectors' items, and of course the stuffed animals.
But here's a list that will have a few extras you may not be expecting – from pristine pieces of pop culture to unexpected treasures you could find in the garage.
As high as $400
As high as $400 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're a perfect snapshot of the culture at the time of their release, featuring TV shows, rock bands, celebrities, and they can turn out to be worth something wild if they're 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 kid's plastic lunch boxes around, because who knows – one of them might be worth something.
As high as $9,999
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 piece of retro microphone, you could be sitting on a sudden cash flow. Exceptionally rare pieces such as the Neumann U-47 from the 1940s can, in fact, be worth tens of thousands of dollars, and 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.
Old cell phones
Between $500 and $10,000
You may be used to replacing your cell phone every few years, thanks to better hardware and software, and chasing after the new thing. But if you happen to have one of these huge, vintage pieces of mobile technology, take a look. If you have one from long enough ago, you could be looking to rake in the cash. Dating back to the beginnings of cell phone history.
The original mobile phone, the Motorola DynaTAC, has been seen on eBay for up to $500 – outside the packaging. Inside, think five figures.
1980s boom boxes
As high as $1,600
Another piece of outdated technology, one even further back than CDs. Even if you're a bit older, you may have missed this fad, but boom boxes where the musical item of the decade during the eighties. But a recent thirst for vintage items have boosted the prices here just like they boost the bass. According to Metro, a retro Boombox Ghetto Blaster can sell 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.
Retro boogie boards
As high as $10,000
You've probably played with a boogie board down at the beach, but those aren't going to set your retirement fund up. On the other hand, there is a growing market for retro professional body boards throughout the world, and especially down under. These vintage boards can get expensive.
There are individual boogie boards that are going for upwards of $10,000, and an anonymous collector put his entire collection up for the low, low price of $7,400. Practically a steal! If your years of riding the ways are over, you can still do something with your collection.
As high as $420
The Polaroid has made its way back into the popular culture, which means that vintage Polaroid cameras have jumped up the worth-it market. With most people taking pictures and videos on their phones, 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 a flash of light and printed picture is worth something after all.
As high as $23,999
You may not think of Barbie dolls as a big collector's item, but these plastic gals can go for fat stacks. Incredibly fat stacks, even, with a Midnight Tuxedo Barbie starting at $1,000, and getting all the way up to $23,999 for the original Blonde Barbie released in 1959. Not bad. Barbie superfan Bettina Dorfman in German owns more than 17,000 dolls, the world's largest collection by far, and her outrageous collection is valued at more than $220,000, enough to buy an entire house, no mortgage required.
Your own doll collection might be something worth digging out.
Antique Chests As high as $20,000
Depending on the rarity, design, and condition of the chest in your attic, it could be worth plenty. The most expensive is usually French-made chest (such as Louis Vuitton) from some time in the eighteen hundreds, which can get up to the full twenty grand. But even some from this era languish down near the price of soda crates, for a few affordable hundred.
On the other hand, whether restored or in their original state, some natural chests can still bring in anywhere from five hundred to a thousand dollars. Functional, stylish, and expensive – the perfect Mother's Day gift.
Rare cookie jars
As high as $1,200
Cookie jars used to be a common sight in many of America's kitchens, though it's clear their time has passed. But 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 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.
Action Comics No. 1
As high as $2.16 million
You were expecting this one, weren't you? It's one of the most famous rare and valuable items ever, and it's the reason you've probably got a box full of old Moon Knight issues in the crawl space. Building contractor David Gonzalez learned about its worth first hand when he found this iconic comic book, purely by accident. While renovating a house in Elbow Lake, Minnesota, David found this comic book insulating a wall, along with a bundle of newspapers.
It was graded a 1.5 out of 10 due to a detached front cover but still sold for an incredible $175,000. If you happen to have a near-mint copy, like the 9 out of 10 issues sold in 2011, you could rake in a heart-stopping $2.16 million.
As high as $4,000
You may have had one of these toys, and 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're 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.
As high as $60,000
From the Olympic Games to Sports, to Disney, and almost everything else, there are zillions and zillions of pins to attach to your outfit, and some of them are worth plenty. While the Steamboat Willie pin goes for $5k, probably the most expensive pins are sports-related: the 1912 World Series Press Pin, between the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox, goes for $57,000.
It's especially valuable to Boston fans, as it was the first year Fenway park opened, where the Sox still play. That's a pretty penny for an old pin.
Happy Meal Toys
As high as $10,000
If you were a kid during the heyday of Happy Meal toys from McDonald's, or had a kid during then, you may be setting on a treasure trove. With enough of them, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars, just from a few pieces of plastic.
It would be best to take your bag of toys to an appraiser, which will help you find the really rare items, but you can also take a look at the listings that are currently on eBay. A set of Disney Happy Meal Toys went for around $10,000 in April of 2019.
David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ Vinyl
Between $2,500 and $7,500
Usually, we look at collections or genres of items, but here's one that is just one single item that is really worth something. When David Bowie released his “Diamond Dogs” LP on vinyl, the cover created a stir. He's always pushed the envelope, but this was too much even for the record label. The cover had a cartoonish Bowie with a dog bottom half.
The label pulled it before too long, which means copies that did get sold now go for anywhere between $2,500 and $7,500, even if most music fans won't want to part with a tangible piece of history.
As high as $4,000
Did you read that number right? Did we write it right? Yes to both – glassware you can stick in the microwave and hold your leftovers in has been around since long before microwaves even hit the scene. Beginning in 1915, antique Pyrex has commanded a high price, and a number of patterns in particular top out at four grand!
This special piece is called the Lucky in Love pattern and sold on eBay for that high price. It was only available for a short time in 1959 as a promotional piece, and is thus extremely rare.
28. Retro Air Jordans
As high as $25,000
As one of the best-selling and most popular sneakers the world over after a collaboration between His Airness Michael Jordan and Nike, Air Jordans have had a cult following since the nineties, and nowadays they are a pop culture phenomenon with lasting power. People wait for hours to buy the newest pairs, but how pricey can they get?
Not everyone was buying them to wear but kept them in the pristine packaging, and for reselling. A pair of Air Jordan 1's black and gold colorways sold for $25,000, enough to buy a brand new Mustang, just for a pair of kicks.
Vintage Levi’s jeans
As high as $8,000
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 you have to have nabbed the right pair to cash in: pairs manufactured before 1980, especially Levi's 501s, are the big seller, though older pairs also might end up making you bank.
A pair of 1950 Anniversary Levi's jeans sold on eBay for $8,000. While the jeans, being old, are pretty brittle and will end up being uncomfortable, they are a classic piece of American style to add to your special outfits.
As high as $156,000
Hoarders rejoice: old issues of magazines can be worth mucho moolah! Yes, it's true, the magazines that showed up at your door whether or not you wanted them could pad your wallet in a surprising way. Ordinary copies that went for a dollar back in the day now might be worth anywhere between $20 and $30. Rarer issues, however, have appreciated in an incredible way.
A copy of Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 went for a whopping $156,000 during an auction in 2007. Designers love to use these old issues for inspiration, which has been part of the reason the mag market has gone so bullish.
As high as $7,500
Kanye West is one of the most influential and famous celebrities of the twenty-tens, and between the years of 2009 and 2014, the rapper partnered with Nike to produce the Nike Air Yeezy, though the brand has moved to adidas recently. Sneakerheads rejoiced for both versions, which resulted in higher prices.
Most Yeezys aren't considered vintage just yet, but keep them in good condition and they'll fetch a high price. Think about this: The Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers hit shelves in 2012, and cost $245. Now, they resell at $7,500. Like we said: good condition. Those puppies could pay for a new house if you're lucky.
Between $35 and $1000
Between $35 and $1000 You've probably crushed a good number of these in your lifetime, did you ever think they were worth something? Think twice before throwing out your next empty – vintage is only a few years away. A man named Jeff Lebo has been collecting beer cans for 40 years in his vacation house in Pennsylvania, which he plans to convert into a resort.
His collection includes eighty-seven thousand empties, worth an estimated $1.6 million dollars! For a little more info, a flat top beer can from between 1935-1941 can be worth anything between $35 and $1000.
As high as $36 million
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 – that eye-popping number 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 go for reasonable prices, usually not more than a hundred dollars, but there are plenty if they're old enough and in good enough condition, that can get closer to that lofty number. A little closer.
Varies, but as high as $1,500 (as of April 2019)
Not all, or even most, of these black boxes are worth anything. As DVDs, Blu-Ray, and now streaming have come, this outdated tech hasn't retained its value all that well. However, a Black Diamond Disney VHS tape has been found to be quite valuable.
During April 2019, there was a set of Disney Black Diamond VHS tapes on eBay for $1,000, another listing for a single “Aladdin” tape at $1,300, and a sealed “Beauty and the Beast” tape with a going price of $1,500. If you were a collector, you might be sitting on a treasure trove!
As high as $200,000 (for entire collections)
The American Philatelic Society (a society for stamp and stamp collectors) says that while rookies begin collecting any and all stamps, expert collectors know that certain stamps from other countries, specific regions, and for special events. Over ten thousand new stamps are issued each year worldwide, says the society. Mint condition stamps (never been used) sell the best, but used ones can still bring in the paper.
In May 2019, a collector was selling his entire collection on eBay. Opportunities for reselling are pretty good, and the investment is pretty low!
Vintage Christmas ornaments
As high as $1,000
Christmas trees are usually full of all kinds of ornaments and lights, some of which may have come from specialty shops for fifty dollars, others hand made by kids for the low, low price of a mess. Usually these will sit on the tree, or stay hidden in the attic, but not all the time. Another option is to look up the price online.
Vintage sleds can be worth several hundred, and if you manage to have a 1880s blown glass ornament, such as a cluster of grapes, that item could be worth as much as a thousand dollars.
Vintage Soda Crates
As high as $199
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, almost a hundred years ago, that's been listed at $125! Is it just for the rarity? The retro style? We're unsure. It couldn't be too hard to make one of your own.
Steiff Teddy Bears
As high as $182,550
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 vintage status, and that means cash. An adorable, fluffy Louis Vuitton-clad Steiff Bear, for instance, sold for a record $182,550 at a charity auction.
As high as $15,995
Yes, these items are becoming such a hot commodity that they appear on the list twice. 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. 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 of 1984-1986. 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.
As high as $200,000
You might not have an ancient magazine or a ten thousand dollar boogie board lying around, but you almost certainly have an old car. You might even be able to find some gems, such as hood ornaments, car vases, and other parts with decorative value, which collectors treasure. Whether re-purposing for future industrial design or just for car history, certain pieces can be worth a nice bit of cash, as long as they're in decent condition.
The most expensive hood ornament in the world, a diamond-encrusted Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy, was estimated to be worth $200,000.
As high as $1,000
A mason jar couldn't possibly command that much, could it? But you'd be surprised. While plenty of hip restaurants use them as a drinking class, weddings use them as shabby chic decorations, they used to be used to preserve fruits and other perishables when there weren't any fridges or freezers. Country Living says the most valuable jars come from between 1840 to 1920.
Brands like Cork-Top Jar, E-Z Seal by Atlas, the Self-Sealing jar by Kerr, and other specific models are worth a surprising amount. Take a peek in your cupboards and see if you've struck gold!
Vintage advertising signs
As high as $117,000
These huge signs were the pop-up ads of the past, advertising new products, services, sales, and deals. They'd hang in bars, in restaurants, in gas stations, and alongside the road. Physical ads might be a little bit retro compared to ads on Twitter or Instagram, but those packets of data will never be worth this much.
An old AAA Root Beer advertisement sold on eBay for over $1,200, and a vintage Coca-Cola flew past that, going for $117,000. Retro signs for beers such as Pabst and Old Milwaukee can also reach four figures. Back to the garage!
As high as $100,000
Typewriters were once delegated to dusty attics and the backs of closets, but antique dealers have a big eye for these old pieces of word processing power. They're important relics that used to clack away in every office and house, long before the smartphone or computer existed. There wasn't even a delete key! They're 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!
As high as $4,400 (depending on what it is!)
“Never walk past the box of postcards at an estate sale,” says Good Housekeeping. Christmas postcards are the most valuable currency. Terry Kovel, who co-wrote Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, says holiday and especially Christmas items are most desired. Most vintage postcards go for between $10 and $50, but a few have gone for up to four figures.
The most expensive was a Christmas card signed by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, which auctioned off for $4,400. Obviously not all of them will be signed by royalty, but stop into thrift stores and you may find something fabulous.
35. Old coins
As high as $200,000
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: 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.
Vintage bands tees
As high as $7,000
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 who helped, which went for almost seven thousand big ones.
Original Cracker Jack baseball poster
As high as $61,000
That much for a poster? Incredible, you might think, but when a Wisconsin police officer was going through his barn he found one of these old posters, printed in 1915. A baseball card-collecting friend notified the officer it could be worth something major. Something so old, and so historic, and in such good condition is surely worth a bundle, and it was eventually sold by the Mile High Card Company for an eye-popping $61,000.
I’ll be back in a bit, I'm going to go look through all my old junk. If I find something pricey the article ends here.
A rare edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’
Between $40,000 and $55,000
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 credit given to one “Joanne Rowling,” not J.K. Rowling.
Vintage Apple computers
As high as $200,000
Apple computers were the hot processing item of the '80s and '90s, and the company is still putting out some of the best items on the market. But one of the original Apple II computers, one of the first successful personal computers on the market, was sold from 1977 to 1993, and as one of the first mass-produced computers, it became an important cultural object.
Make sure you know what that old tech is worth – a woman once donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon valley recycling firm, not knowing it was worth $200,000.
Fender & Gibson guitars
As high as $2,266,970
If you had a dream of making it big in the rock and roll biz when you were a kid and begged your parents for the coolest guitar in the shop, you still might have something to show for it, even if you don't have fans screaming your name. 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.
Between $400 and $3,000
Here's one that isn't all that surprising, since handbags have been in use for more than a century, and plenty of people have found themselves addicted to these useful items. There are so many styles to choose from, you could have a different one for every day of the week.
Some classic bags, depending on the brand and model, have appreciated heavily: Marie Dietrich, an appraiser at Gary Germer and Associates, has been quoted saying “Vintage Chanel in good condition will retail on a secondary market for $2,000 to $3,000 – or even $400 if it is in poor condition.”
As high as $1,500
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.
As high as $1,000
These furry guys didn't 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 the asking price of $1,000 on eBay as of May 2019. While many parents found this toy unbelievably annoying, they weren't 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.
As high as $80,000
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 a good design could get you up to $75, which 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.
As high as $8,000
It shouldn't really come as a surprise the original Game Boy is worth a lot, but you have to take care that it's still in the original packaging, or was only available as a limited edition. Take the “Nintendo Game Boy Color Pokemon Center Hong Kong Limited Edition Pikachu,” which during May 2019, was on sale at eBay for $8,000, in the unopened packaging.
The Game Boy quickly became the must-have toy when it was released in 1989, and came bundled with Tetris – another piece of retro video game tech that has a high price.
As high as $1,003
One man's trash is another's a treasure, but cereal boxes? You've likely thrown out a thousand of these things after polishing off your Chex or Cheerios, and now we find out that some of the boxes are worth a mint – they'll fit right next to a classic lunch box and beer can.
You may think it's the older boxes that command the highest prices, but not always. A Kellogg's Sugar Pops box from 2009 has reached $161, but the highest earner is an unopened box of Nabisco Shredded Wheat from 1966, which brought in a hair over a grand.