Collectibles and antiques often bring astronomical prices to the dealers who buy and sell them on a regular basis, but if you aren't a treasure hunter, or you aren't really aware of what might be hiding in your attic or garage aside from dust bunnies and old faded pictures, then it can be a bit tough to get a handle on what you've got. Additionally, going to yard sales can reap great rewards, but you've got to know what you're looking at. Perhaps it is something as simple as a Mason jar filled with foreign coins that your Grandfather brought back from Europe in the 1940s. While you might well have taken a look at some of the pretty coins that the jar contained, did that old blue glass canning jar catch your eye? If it didn't, then read on, and you might want to go have another look!
In barns and garages across the United States, (and the world, for that matter,) there hide the elusive antique car, truck, tractor or motorcycle. These are perhaps not the richest finds that have yet to be uncovered in the collectible market, as many of the baby-boomers who owned those with a lot of value have been sought out through registries and sales logbooks, but there are still examples that are unfound. One of the great mysteries of automotive culture until recently has been a Shelby Daytona coupe with the chassis number CSX2287. Once owned by Phil Spector, then the widow of a recluse, the four million dollar car sat quietly waiting in a storage unit under another owner's name, and then disappeared again after the widow's death.
Mason Jars have had a long and storied past, holding such bits as marbles, Jacks, coins, and the occasional preserved fruits, vegetables, and jellies along the way. While the collector market for these jars is relatively slow, vintage jars from the late 1800s are in demand with the collectors who love them, and can bring hundreds of dollars. If you're looking, keep an eye out for jars with greenish colored glass. If you're really lucky, you might turn up an opaque white jar, signifying that it was produced in the 1800’s. These can often be valuable even if they happen to have a chip or are mildly discolored.
Whoever would have guessed that the pen set that someone gave your great grandfather for retirement would be worth more than a paperweight? Look for Parker, Waterman, and Cross pens, and check the Internet for resources. A few collectors actively seek vintage writing instruments, and are generally well-heeled enough to really drive up prices on items that they want.
Cedar chests have been protecting winter and summer duds and collecting dust for hundreds of years. The really nice ones tend to come up for sale most often at estate auctions or sales.4 Prices can range from $900 to more than $2,000 for well-loved examples, with rare finds fetching much higher prices. Remember that these items built at the turn of the century were hand-made, so no two are going to be exactly alike!
You don't necessarily need a famous name emblazoned across your collectibles to hold value. While you might be loath to part with it, that quilt taking up space in your cedar chest could be worth as much as $20,000. Vintage quilts tend to be hand-made as well as cedar chests, though it is more a matter of what went into the crafting of one of these exquisite pieces of Americana that drives up price. In many cases, hundreds of hours of painstaking craftsmanship, hours upon hours sitting beside the fireplace crafting the intricate designs make them truly one of a kind, and quite possibly the modern-day American answer to what paintings were in the 1600s and 1700s. The ladies who fashioned quilts for keeping at bay the winter winds in drafty houses used the scraps of what they had on hand, whether it was an old, torn, or stained dress that they particularly enjoyed the pattern of, or bolts of cloth that were found at the county fair. Either way, this art form has enjoyed a revival in recent years, not only in the collector market, but among decorators as well, for homes looking for a country charm that handmade quilts seem perfectly suited to provide.