It’s incredible how much some people will spend on the strangest things.
I’m not here to judge…
Remember, I am the proud (yes, proud!) owner of this peculiar piece of furniture — and I have no idea how much my mother paid for it…
That said, my mother has a knack for finding a good sale. I’m sure she didn’t break the bank buying me this silly souvenir.
But you won’t believe how much people paid for the following relics…
Not only do I hope these anecdotes give you a little chuckle today, but I also hope they give you a few moneymaking ideas. After all, where there’s a willing buyer, there ought to be a seller.
And why shouldn’t that seller be you?
What’s in a Name?
It should come as no surprise that autographs are a hot-ticket auction item. And of course, the older and rarer the autograph, the more it will fetch.
Despite the extraordinary body of work he produced, William Shakespeare only left behind six verified examples of his signature.
In 2016, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, four went on display in an exhibition hosted by King’s College London. Unfortunately, they were just for show…
You see, all six of Shakespeare’s signatures belong to private institutions. I doubt any will ever be up for sale. If one ever does hit the auction block, experts expect it would fetch between $3–5 million.
If you’ve got some famous ink, I suggest hopping online to see how much it could go for. You never know…
Nostalgia is a huge profit driver right now. Just look at how many sequels and reboots are pouring out of Hollywood. An actor’s autograph from an old TV show making the rounds again… the signature of a sports legend newly memorialized… a pop star’s trademark from before they made it big… You could be sitting on a gold mine and not even know it.
But if you’d like to keep your hard-won John Hancock, that’s OK too.
You could always try this on for size…
Turning Blue Jeans Into Green
I’ve certainly spent a fair amount on a pair of good jeans — sometimes several hundred a pop. I can’t fathom spending several thousand. But there seems to be a market for rare and vintage denim.
In 2005, a pair of Levi Strauss & Co. 501s from the 1880s was purchased on eBay for $60,000 by a Japanese collector. A few years later, another pair of Levi’s from 1888 sold for six figures. And in 2018, a pair from 1893 sold for just shy of $100K.
Reportedly, these may be the only complete pairs of authentic pre-1900 Levi’s 501 jeans in existence. But considering all the attics in America… there may be a few more.
Have you held onto any vintage clothing or accessories? You might have a hit seller on your hands. We’ve already covered how a classic Stetson could pull in profits. Who knows what a pair of pants could net you?
Gone, but Not Forgotten
Not only are people nostalgic for movies and clothes, but many folks have a fondness for forgotten places. Me, I’ll always remember the sweet corn cake from Chi-Chi’s — even though the last restaurant in the States closed its doors in 2004.
The iconic Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas — which was built in 1955 on the site where the Bellagio currently stands — closed in 1993. However, decks of Dunes playing cards and poker chips are still circulating on the secondary market.
In August 2018, two decks sold for $2,500 — or $1,250 each. Not a bad buy-in… especially if the new owner decides to turn around and resell them. With the hotel and casino long gone, the scarcity of these original items will only boost values over time.
If you have any mementos from bygone businesses, you might have a valuable piece of history. On eBay, for example, you’ll find people collect menus from old restaurants. Maybe I should have kept that Chi-Chi’s children’s menu.
Speaking of childhood memories…
Stranger Things, Indeed
I devoured the third season of Stranger Things on Netflix in less than two days. The show takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, circa the mid-’80s. And every single episode is packed with reminders of my youth.
To source all of the period-appropriate products, the show’s prop master, Lynda Reiss, spent hours trolling flea markets, estate sales and eBay message boards. I can imagine the hardest things to find were the food items.
But oddly enough, there is a sizable market for things like vintage cereal boxes. Especially special editions, like the boxes of Rice Honeys featuring the Beatles used to promote Yellow Submarine. In 2014, one (empty) box sold at Heritage Auctions for $1,430.50.
Cereal not included.
That’s the Ticket!
Also in 2014, Heritage Auctions sold a 1927 World Series ticket for over $41K.
Notice how the ticket is still in pristine condition — untorn. That means it’s likely the original owner never made it to the game!
Rare concert tickets can also fetch a pretty penny. A 1964 Beatles ticket once sold for over $16,000. And in 2013, a stub from a Bob Dylan concert went for $1,134.99 on eBay.
So maybe dig out any old scrapbooks you have and see what you’ve got.
Now, I’m certainly not suggesting you sell any of your cherished possessions if you don’t want to. But value lies in the strangest places sometimes…
And you never know what people are willing to buy.
Lucille St. John
Managing editor, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. Wonder if you’ve got a gold mine in that trunk in the attic? Want to know how you can figure out values? EBay is of course a good place to start… But rare or vintage items are only offered now and again, and the seller often has no idea what the true worth is.
Even better, go check out JustCollecting’s website, which covers every collectible under the sun. If you don’t find your item, you can tap into the community’s knowledge and ask other collectors what they know. Whatever you’ve got, JustCollecting’s forums can act as your own personal Antiques Roadshow.
Lucille St. John
Lucille St. John is the managing editor of Unconventional Wealth. A gentlewoman and a scholar, Lucille never received much in the way of a financial education. But what she lacks in fiscal knowledge she makes up for in taste.
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