These Are the Surprisingly Valuable Things You Can Find at Antique Stores
If we’ve learned one thing from Fixer Upper star Joanna Gaines, it’s that antiques can play a starring role in any home. It doesn’t matter whether you need a big piece — like a table or a desk — or if you find yourself looking for smaller accents for your home. Either way, one of your local antique stores probably has exactly what you need. But did you know that while you shop, you may encounter a few surprisingly valuable finds?
Read on to check out the most valuable things you’ll find at the antique store. If you ask us, you should never pass up a great deal on these items!
House Beautiful reports that antique silverware is often pretty valuable. The key is to find flatware that’s actually silver. Real silver will typically look tarnished, though you won’t have a hard time polishing it up. Another clue? Authentic silver will make a ringing sound if you tap it. Look for flatware sets by brands like Tiffany or Gorham if you want the biggest bang for your buck.
Next: These beautiful dishes can fetch high prices.
Have you spotted these distinctive, mint-green dishes at an antique store or an estate sale? Then you just might want to snap it up. House Beautiful reports that jadeite dates back to the 1930s, but it got particularly popular after World War II. Especially if you see a logo for McKee, Jeannette, or Fire King, you might be holding an authentic, antique piece of jadeite. Just watch out for modern reproductions, which are increasingly popping up at antique stores across the United States.
Next: These instruments are sometimes a lot more valuable than you’d think.
3. Antique guitars
Thinking about buying an antique instrument from one of your favorite antique stores? Popular Mechanics reports that that could be a smart buy. Guitars especially can be worth a lot of money, though it helps to know what you’re looking at to determine how valuable they really are. And they don’t have to be incredibly old, either. Even guitars from the 1960s and 1970s can have surprisingly high values. Always check the brand and search for any identifying marks before you decide to buy — or before you make plans to paint it or use it in a Pinterest project.
Next: This glassware was cheap when it was new, but has increased in value.
4. Depression glass
Another colorful kind of kitchenware you can often find at antique stores? Glassware that today experts call depression glass. As The Spruce reports, manufacturers such as Federal Glass, MacBeth Evans, and Hocking Glass made this colorful glassware from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. It was mass-produced and of relatively poor quality. But it came in beautiful colors and patterns. The most popular colors with collectors today are typically pink, cobalt blue, and green. The names of the most popular patterns — including Cameo, Mayfair, American Sweetheart, Princess, and Royal Lace — alluded to the better times and more glamorous lifestyles of the early 1920s.
Next: These small items may command high prices.
5. Antique photographs
We’d venture to guess that almost all antique stores have a sizable stock of antique photographs. They’re often fascinating to look through, even when they aren’t worth much. But sometimes, you may stumble onto something that’s worth a considerable amount of money. You’ll need to do some research to learn about the different types of photographs and how old they likely are. But depending on a photo’s size, format, condition, and, perhaps most importantly, its subject matter, it could fetch a decent price at an auction.The imprint of certain photographers or photo studios may also add value, particularly if they were local to your area.
Next: These look great on a vanity, and can also have high values.
6. Perfume bottles
Antique perfume bottles are another kind of glassware that can fetch surprisingly high prices at auctions. And not just if you find a popular brand like Chanel. As Popular Mechanics reports, the perfume itself typically doesn’t really matter. The bottle, usually, is what will actually carry the value. If you find a label or a logo, you can always do some research to see whether your finds are valuable.
Next: These items you use only once a year can get quite expensive at auctions.
7. Antique Christmas ornaments
Many antique stores have tons of Christmas ornaments on offer around the holidays. Some vendors want high prices for those ornaments, while others offer bargains. Either way, some antique Christmas ornaments are actually very valuable. As Popular Mechanics reports, materials like hand-blown glass can drive up the value. Some ornaments — such as those made from the 1840s to the 1940s by a German brand called Kugel — are worth thousands of dollars. It never hurts to look for logos and brand names.
Next: This kitchen item is useful, but also valuable.
8. Canning jars
Sure, ball jars have gotten uncomfortably trendy. But the authentic, vintage ones on the shelves at antique stores across America have held their value. Decades ago, people actually used these jars to store foods, so they’re often quite sturdy and functional (whether you want to use them in your pantry or in a Pinterest project). House Beautiful notes that many brands manufactured canning jars, but Ball jars typically are worth the most.
Next: This kind of furniture commands high prices.
9. Arts and crafts furniture
Home decor trends come and go. But some kinds of antiques always stay in style. According to House Beautiful, Mission and craftsman-style furniture from the early 1900s still commands high prices. (Both terms refer to styles associated with the American arts and crafts movement.) So if you spot some authentic pieces at one of your local antique stores, you’re likely looking at some pretty valuable furniture. As Country Living reports, furniture labeled Gustav Stickley makes a particularly great buy.
Next: These chairs have increased dramatically in value.
10. Midcentury shell chairs
A very different kind of furniture you should look out for at antique stores? Midcentury shell chairs. As The Spruce reports, the most valuable chairs were designed by Charles and Ray Eames, but their designs were often copied. So it can be a little tough to figure out if the chair you’re looking at is authentic. Look for paper decals that say “Charles Eames” or “Designed by Charles Eames,” or have the name of the manufacturer, “Herman Miller Furniture Company.” These molded fiberglass chairs often also have the name “Zenith Plastics” on them.
Next: These items command high prices, especially in matched sets or with the right label.
11. Antique luggage sets
At most antique stores, you’ll see at least a set or two of vintage luggage. Many people buy these items to use as storage or decor in their homes. But some of them might be pretty valuable, too. House Beautiful reports that matched sets often command high prices. And of course, if you find an antique trunk by a big name like Louis Vuitton, you’ve almost certainly struck gold.
Next: This often-overlooked item could be one of the most valuable things in the store.
12. Elaborate frames
Everybody’s taste in artwork is different. The same goes for the frames that old paintings hang in. House Beautiful reports that even if you hate a specific painting hanging in one of your favorite antique stores, you may want to take a second look at the frame. Ornate and antique frames can often have a higher value than the artwork itself, and frames are often easy to sell online. (Unlike some of the bigger pieces you’d find at antique stores.)
Next: These items look great on a shelf, but could also make you some money.
13. First-edition books
Joanna Gaines famously uses antique books when staging homes. But some of the books you can find at antique stores are surprisingly valuable, not just beautiful. House Beautiful reports that first-edition books can command high prices, depending on what you’ve found. If you suspect that a specific volume might have some value, it doesn’t hurt to search the title on Abebooks.com to find out how much it’s worth.
Next: This item goes up in value even as it becomes outdated.
Another pretty accent piece that you might be able to resell for a surprising price? A vintage globe. These look beautiful on desks and shelves. Plus, they usually aren’t hard to find at antique stores. As House Beautiful points out, vintage globes often depict borders that have since changed. And many show countries that have long since ceased to exist. Find the right one, and you could find that it commands a surprisingly high price at an online auction.
Next: These items can command surprisingly high prices.
15. Lamp bases
Popular Mechanics names lamp bases as another everyday item that may surprise you with their value. “It’s incredibly specific, and may seem like garbage to most people,” the publication explains. “But just a lamp base alone can rack up big dollars at an auction.” If you find something distinctive — or with a logo or identifying marks — it doesn’t hurt to do some research and see what you find.
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