Have you ever thrown something out only to find out later that it was valuable? It’s a common mistake people make when downsizing or cleaning out their homes and storage units. Just because something may look like junk or appear old and tattered, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold value.
Some stories make the headlines – like the time one of Steve Jobs’ first computers, the 1976 Apple 1 ended up at a recycling center in California. That sold at auction for $200,000. In more recent times, an early crypto investor from Wales, James Howells, accidently threw out a hard drive with the key to more than $60 million in bitcoin.
It’s easy to understand how these mistakes are made – often people rush to clean out their homes and many don’t think twice about the items they are discarding. You’d be surprised at what antique and vintage items still hold value. Examples include:
- Casino chips. Collectors will pay a pretty penny for some of these antique and vintage pieces, especially casino chips that that were in use after World War II and in the early days of Las Vegas. Sometimes people discard chips from casinos that have long been closed, thinking they have no value. That’s a big mistake. Also, if you have vintage chips with higher denominations, they could be more valuable since these chips where treated like money at the casino. When a casino removed them from circulation, they were destroyed or altered to make them worthless to sell as a souvenir, but there is a strong collector market for them.
- Costume jewelry. This style of vintage ornamentation that originated in the 1920s and exploded in the 1950s could be worth a lot of money depending on the workmanship and materials. With costume jewelry, it doesn’t have to be made of gold to be valuable. We have sold single pieces of vintage costume jewelry with no gold content for hundreds of dollars. Makers such as Marion Haskell, Trifari and Eisenburg can be an unassuming jackpot.
- Marbles. Vintage marbles are one of the more surprising collectibles that hold value as most people wouldn’t think twice about a bag of old marbles at a garage sale or in a thrift store. There have been single marbles sell for as much as $40,000 each. So, if you have a bag of old marbles, don’t just give it to the neighbor’s kid — do a little research first to make sure you’re not giving away the bank!
- Fishing lures It’s common knowledge that old fishing lures can be valuable and collectible, but a common misnomer is that an old lure without glass eyes is not valuable – that’s not true. Some antique hand-painted lures have been known to fetch thousands of dollars. Don’t discard a tacklebox without checking to see what fishing lures could be tucked away inside – you might land a big fish!
It’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasures. Do your research before discarding items, and if there’s any doubt, ask an appraiser or industry expert to examine it.
Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Appraisal in Glendale.