Ok, so maybe you’re not sitting on The Dragon’s Chair—designed by Eileen Gray and formerly owned by Yves St Laurent—which once sold at auction for $27 million. Or a $5 million Harrington Commode. But there are lots of antiques and vintage items languishing unused in dusty boxes across the nation. If you have one of these unexpected finds, or happen upon them at an estate sale, you just got richer. Just as with stocks or any other commodity, the question is: When to sell? Hold too long, and the surprisingly valuable item could be practically worthless (for proof, look no further than the current prices of once highly prized “brown” wood furniture, now at a relative bargain—and sure to go up again). Our advice: Consult a pro, like the experts who gave us intel on these surprisingly valuable furniture and pop culture finds—then get ready to roll in oodles of cash.
Luxury Brand Boxes
Alex Shadrow, List Perfectly's Partner and CMO, says that packaging from luxury brands can sell for up to $200 each. “People commonly buy these to sell the products themselves for higher prices as ‘new’ in-box or in-bag,” Shadrow says. That orange Hermès scarf box? Hold on to it...even if you prefer keeping your actual scarves elsewhere. Liz O’Kane, a seller for List Perfectly, has found the iconic cardboard is worth an average of $25 a pop, and Louis Vuitton purse dust bags can fetch around $30 each.
Vintage Perfume Bottles
Even when they long ago spritzed their last whiff of scent, antique perfume bottles can still turn heads—with their prices. Old and empty perfume bottles from Chanel, Dior, Baccarat, and Gucci can sell for up to $100 each. An empty Molinard perfume bottle made by Lalique recently sold for more than $800 on eBay, notes Shadrow.
The 670 Lounge Chair
This famed seat and ottoman set, designed by Charles Eames and manufactured by Herman Miller, “is sleek and desirable, but since it was production furniture, it's not necessarily rare,” says Brian Witherell, COO of Witherell’s Inc, who appears on PBS series Antiques Roadshow. “It can bring as much as $7,000 and consistently brings more than $1,000 at auction, even in poor condition.” Giving new meaning to the phrase sitting pretty.
Thank Pinterest party planners for the revived interest in vintage trophies, which typically sell for up to $50 but can go for a lot more if they’re hewn of silver, steel, or gold. “People love these as cake toppers or for other DIY projects,” Shadrow says.
Proof that the current obsession with Pokémon is downright cray: Target and Walmart are no longer selling the cards in stores for the safety of their guests and team members. “If you bought a game for your child or were a kid in the 90s and never opened it, it’s possible that it could sell in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Dunbar says. “A sealed Pokémon game sold this past year for over $400,000. The year before, [the same thing] sold for $150,000, so you can see the appreciation [in value]!” We’re not playing.
Danish Modern Entertainment Centers
Long before the big screen TV, folks still coveted casegoods that would cast their #shelfies in a good light. “Hans Wagner was a primary architect of that ‘60s and ‘70s era, and his cased pieces bring a lot of money at auction,” Witherell says. “A central entertainment bookshelf—6 feet wide by 8 feet high—is where the money is, valued at $5,000 to $7,000.”
Call it sorcery. Magic: The Gathering cards, a game first launched in 1993, “have become really popular and can sell anywhere from a few dollars up to a group that sold for up to $600,000,” says Leila Dunbar, a full-time appraiser who also appears on Antiques Roadshow. “It’s all about condition—items that are sealed, never used, and never played with.” Fun!
American Girl Catalogs
Sitting on a pile of old American Girl catalogs? Do what brand founder Pleasant Rowland might and turn that paper into cash. “I have several American Girl catalogs listed for $14.99, and I had one buyer buy 6 from me about a month ago,” says List Perfectly seller Theresa Cox. “They are slow to sell, but there is a market—one [customer] said there was a picture of something on a certain page that she wanted to recreate, another said she wanted it because it was the catalogue her doll debuted in.” You know what they say about one woman’s trash.
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