written by Patrick Morgan and Alexander Bitar
Whether it is a work of art, a vintage toy, a sports card, or perhaps even an old chair, the collectibles market is stronger than ever before! Record-breaking prices for common things found in most households have become a regular occurrence since the COVID lockdowns, and the resulting boom in online auction sales since the start of the pandemic does not look to be slowing down. Antiques, vintage objects, modern designs, and even old toys could be worth a fortune these days, and it's worth looking around your attic, garage, and storage to see what you've got. Read below to learn about some of today's top collectibles and the record-breaking prices being achieved.
From antique model airplanes to sports cards and vintage movie posters, you will, in all likelihood, find something of value. And determining that value may be more complicated than you might think…but thankfully, Value My Stuff has an army of experienced experts that will help you find out what your treasures are worth! To appraise your collectibles, follow these simple steps.
Let’s begin with antique model airplanes as an example. Depending on the make, model, and country of manufacture, the values can range from about 20 dollars to 1,000 dollars for a vintage toy plane. A Zero Fighter Type 52 diecast model, made by the Takatoku, company in Tokyo, Japan, can sell for well over $800, whereas a similar vintage model plane, made in the UK, will bring around $30.
It typically boils down to rarity, understanding the nuances of various marketplaces, and, ultimately, supply and demand. If you, by any chance, find a Zombie Zulu figure produced by Universal Monster Plastic Figure Company, in 1960, as a Frito Lay Pop Top Promotional Toy, you can get around $100 for it on the collectors market.
Sometimes the value of common household items can bring surprisingly high prices. Take for example a piece of vintage furniture from IKEA that was recently sold at auction for $110,000. It was a pair of mushroom chairs with orange-colored fabric. Notably, these chairs were released in 1944, which was only a year after IKEA was founded. Not only vintage IKEA furniture is of great interest. A well-preserved set of ceramic terrine Nejlika from the 1990’s are worth over $1,000. Another example are Swedish Table Lamps by Karin Mobring from the 1970’s that sell for $1,500 each. However, furniture is arguably more highly demanded. The “Cavelli” armchair from 1958 is worth between $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the condition.
It’s funny how vintage IKEA furniture can be so valuable since the general perception of IKEA is that it’s cheap things that later end up in the dumpster. However, back when IKEA was just getting started in the 1940’s, things were a bit different. The company was founded by an industrious young man by the name of Ingvar Kamprad who thought the company should reflect his environment, and with a combination of his initials IK, his family's farm, “Elmtaryd” and the town he grew up in, “Agunnaryd” in Sweden, he created the acronym “IKEA”, a name brand known around the globe.
As a young boy, Ingvar was always looking for ways to supplement his family's income, while growing up during the great depression years of the 1930’s. One of his more notable endeavors was to buy matches in bulk from Stockholm and sell them in smaller batches to surrounding families and farmhands in his local neighborhoods, far from the country's biggest city.
He sold pens, paper, and anything else he could get his hands on if he could turn a profit. Ultimately this led to him creating the world's most famous and iconic furniture company back in 1943. Beginning with armchairs, lamps and side tables at affordable prices, Ingvar wanted to provide people with good value for their money. He commissioned furniture that was designed for its comfort and economy by young local artists who happened to be on the cutting edge of Modern Design. Bengt Ruda was one of these designers. He created the Cavelli Arm Chair in 1958. It had a beautiful bent wood teak frame and a fabric hourglass back, and for some reason, only six prototypes were ever made. They were never mass-produced despite their superb design.
Now when you think of IKEA, remember that a vintage table or chair could be worth a small fortune.
Related: IKEA's Most Expensive Designs
We all love music and movies, don’t we? Various collectibles connected to our favorite movies or our favorite rock band are very accessible. Everything from old music albums to VHS tapes can have enormous value. The most expensive VHS tape to date is the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, Black Diamond edition, which sold for a shopping $239,000. The market for music albums is also hot. Pretty much all original first-pressing of iconic albums are of high demand. Any early examples of The Beatles’ 1968 “White Album” can bring in six figures.
Another thing that we may find in our attic connected to music and movies are handwritten and signed material. Haven’t we all asked for someone's autograph? If you’re super lucky, then you’ve asked for Elvis Presley, James Dean or Marilyn Monroe’s autograph. If that’s the case, then you have a piece of paper (or photograph) worth thousands of dollars.
Every now and then, we read news about record-breaking sales of sports cards. Baseball cards have been popular for more than a century, with the iconic Honus Wagner card from 1909 being one of the most valuable cards, fetching million-dollar prices at auction.
In recent years, even soccer cards have risen greatly on the market. Rookie cards of all-time greats such as Pelé, Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi are extremely valuable, with Pelé’s 1958 rookie card being the king of all soccer cards.
Not surprisingly, also basketball cards are very collectible, with Lebron James' 2003 Upper Deck card being the one that has sold for the highest amount at auction. $5,400,000 to be precise.
To date, the most expensive sports card ever sold at auction is Mickey Mantle’s 1952, Topps #311, card that sold in 2022 for $12.6 million dollars by Heritage Auction. Although you may not have a million-dollar card in your attic, there’s a possibility that you do have something of great value. Other types of trading cards, such as Pokémon, can also be very valuable if it’s from the right editions.
Related: How to Appraise Sports Cards
In addition to the examples written above, here are some of the most popular collectible categories one should be on the lookout for.
– Vintage LEGO sets and toys: Like IKEA, LEGO sets can be very cheap, but also super expensive if they are early editions and in good condition. Many great LEGO sets sell for 5 or 6 figures.
– Comic books: The market for comic books is booming. Like sports cards, it’s all about rarity and condition. X-Man, Superman, Batman, and all the great comic heroes are in high demand. To date, the most expensive comic book ever sold at auction is the 1962 Spiderman “Amazing Fantasy No. 15” which sold for $3.6 million in 2021.
– Vintage clothing: Clothing and accessories from important and iconic brands such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and others, can have very high value, especially if the condition is good.
– Coins: One of the oldest collectible areas is coins, and even today it’s appreciated by collectors all over the world. There are many coins valued well over $5 million, one example is the 5 cents 1913 Liberty Head nickel. Isn’t it amazing that a 5-cent coin is worth $5 million?! Read more about collecting coins.
– Stamps: Like coins, collecting stamps goes back many years. Colling stamps may not be the hottest collecting category, but even here, we find million-dollar sales yearly.
These are just a few of the most popular collectibles where you might be surprised about the value. In short, everything can have great value. It’s always good to check them out. If you have any items that you want to know the value of, then we’d highly recommend our valuation service. Follow these simple steps for more information.
Patrick Morgan is a Dealer and Expert in Tribal Arts and Art and Collectible Generalist He began his career field collecting textiles and tribal artifacts in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos, and Burma in the late 1980's and by 1992 was making several trips a year, exclusively to Mali, sourcing textiles and the ritual arts of the Dogon, Senufo, and Bambara cultures. He began exhibiting these finds in addition to pieces from important American collections in 1998, showing at the major US Tribal Art Fairs in San Francisco, Santa Fe, and New York, as well as the European fairs in both Paris and Berlin. He has worked for several European auction houses as both consultant and an expert.
Alexander Bitar is an international dealer of high-end collectibles. Based in Stockholm with an office in Beverly Hills, some of Bitar's specialities are entertainment memorabilia, high-end watches, autographs and manuscripts.