22 Collectibles You Probably Tossed That Are Now Worth a Fortune
It always feels great to discard your old, unwanted junk and then bask in your newly clutter-free space — until 10 or 20 years later, when you're browsing through an antique store or online auction and realize those items you discarded are worth a pretty penny now. Here are 22 things you might've owned that are worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars today.
Metal cartoon-character lunchboxes with their matching Thermos bottles can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. One example is the King Seeley "Yellow Submarine" lunchbox from 1968, worth up to $1,300 ($350 for just the Thermos). The most valuable lunchboxes tend to be the ones from the 1950s through 1980s.
Breakfast cereal can become stale and worthless in a matter of days, depending on how it's stored — but the box it came in is another matter. Old and not-so-old cereal boxes can be surprisingly valuable to collectors, selling for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. A box of Nabisco "Wheat Honeys" cereal from the 1960s, with Beatles Yellow Submarine cartoon characters on the back (advertising the free Yellow Submarine rub-ons that originally came in the box), once sold at an online auction for $11,000.
The heat-resistant glass now known as Pyrex was invented in 1908, but not until the 1930s did manufacturer Corning Glass start making opaque cookware in a variety of colors and patterns, many of which are collectible today. The rarest and most valuable Pyrex pattern is "Lucky in Love," featuring red hearts and green shamrocks and grass against a white background; that pattern was only produced for one year, in 1959. In 2015 a Lucky in Love casserole dish sold for $4,000. Other 1950s or early '60s patterns, such as "Atomic Eyes" and "Balloons," are worth well over $100 for a single piece. (Note: A limited-edition "Lucky in Love" collection featuring a clear background was released earlier this year.)
It's very unlikely you have a copy of Action Comics #1 (featuring the first appearance of Superman) or Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man's debut) — but even more recent comics can have high collector's value, if they're in good condition. Keep an especially sharp eye out for comics featuring the first appearances of popular characters. For example: Amazing Spider-Man #129, from 1974, features the first appearance of The Punisher. A good-condition copy of that issue recently sold for over $4,000 on eBay.
When "Star Wars" first came out in 1977, the now-defunct toy company Kenner Products produced most of the action figures and other toys. Any Kenner Star Wars toy in its original packaging is likely to have collector's value today, but the most valuable of all is probably the Luke Skywalker figure with double-telescoping lightsaber. In 2015, Sotheby's sold one at auction for $25,000.
Though most well-known VHS tapes have little to no value today, some of the more obscure ones have a high value. Take the super-schlocky 1987 horror movie "Tales From the Quadead Zone," which was never released on DVD or Blu-Ray. Yet it has become something of a cult classic, and since VHS copies are the only ones available, collectors have paid up to $2,000 for a tape. The equally schlocky "Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks," a 1974 movie released on VHS in 1986, is similarly valuable; in 2016, somebody paid $2,100 for a copy on eBay. Any VHS movies that were never re-released on other media have at least the potential to be valuable.
Even old blue jeans can have collector's value, if you have the right pair. Levi's 501 jeans were first introduced in 1954, and a mint-condition pair of those first-edition 501 jeans can sell for over $2,000 today. Those jeans feature a capital "E" on the red Levi's label instead of a lowercase "e".
A first-edition copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the U.S. version of Harry Potter's debut book — in good condition, with no margin notes or dog-eared pages — can sell for almost $7,000 today. But that is a pittance compared to the value of a first edition of the original U.K. version, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." Only 500 copies of that edition were ever printed, so if you have one today — it's easy to identify because the author's name is listed as "Joanne" Rowling rather than J.K. Rowling — make haste to your nearest reputable auction house. In September 2017, Heritage Auctions in Dallas sold a copy for a whopping $81,250 (and it didn't even have the dust jacket).
Sometimes obsolete technology can be more valuable than its latest-gen counterpart. Take the original Apple-1 computer, which first went on the market in 1976: A fully functional model is worth more than $300,000 today.
Next time you upgrade to a new phone, you might want to hang on to your old one just in case: even obsolete cell phones can have some collector's value. For example: a 1983 Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, one of the first cellular phones ever made, can be worth over $500 — even if it's not in working condition. Granted, that sum seems paltry compared to the phone's original $3,995 price tag (in 1983 dollars), but it's still a lot more than you'd get from simply tossing a phone in an electronics-recycling box.
Among collectors of He-Man/Masters of the Universe toys, the "Eternia" playset is something like the Holy Grail: If you have one still in the box, it sells for about $1,900 today.
The Eternia playset is not the only Masters of the Universe toy worth four figures today: a 1982-model "Skeletor" action figure is worth up to $1,500 today (if it's in mint condition and still in the original box).
Back in the day, Jem was "truly outrageous," and now you can say the same about the prices Jem and her friends can fetch on the collector's market. A "Glitter and Gold Jem and Rio" set still in the box recently sold for $400 on eBay. Even Holograms dolls out of the box often sell for three figures (especially when their accessories are included).
Some of the original 1980s Garbage Pail Kids stickers are very valuable today. The most valuable of all is the ultra-rare "Adam Bomb," who was discontinued soon after his introduction (presumably because a cartoon drawing of a kid with a mushroom cloud exploding out of his head offended far too many of parents back then) and can be worth over $4,000 today.
Every late-'90s kid (and more than a few late-'90s adults) wanted a Furby, the talking teddy bear that "learned" language from its owner. A 1998 Furby still in its original box can sell for up to $700 or $800 today. Even an unboxed Furby, in good condition, can be worth up to $500.
Furby's 1980s predecessor, Teddy Ruxpin, would read stories to children (thanks to the cassette tape player hidden in his back). Today, a working Teddy Ruxpin in good condition can fetch up to $500 without the tapes and more than $1,000 if the tapes are included.
Certain discontinued American Girl dolls have high collectible value today. If you have any dolls from 1980s, when the product line was first introduced, they can be worth anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 today. For example, a mint-condition "Molly" doll, still in its box, from the 1980s could be worth up to $5,000 today.
The third version of Nike's popular Air Jordan basketball shoes first went on sale in 1988. Of course, the vast majority of those shoes have been worn and worn out, but collectors have paid up to $3,000 for pairs in good condition.
If you still have one of these virtual pets from the 1990s, some of the early models in good condition sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars on eBay — though others are worth next to nothing. (To determine the value of a Tamagotchi or any other collectible — at least on eBay — do an "Advanced" search, and look for "Completed listings." That will show you how much items actually sold for — and also show you which items didn't sell at the seller's asking price.)
So many Beanie Babies were produced in the 1990s that most of them are nearly worthless today, but there are exceptions, such as the rare royal-blue version of Peanut the Elephant (most Peanut dolls sold were light blue); in 2016 a collector paid $625 for one on eBay. Any Beanie Baby with the wrong tag, or "error" dolls featuring facial defects or other manufacturers' flaws, may also have a high collectors' value today. One such example is "Punchers" the Lobster (a misprint of "Pinchers"): though Pinchers isn't worth much today, Punchers can sell for over $3,500.
Almost everybody had this game back in the day, yet few people held on to it – which is why a mint-condition game cartridge is worth almost $3,000 today.
Though View-Masters today are mainly considered children's toys, when they were first produced in the 1930s, they were marketed to adults as a more modern (and fairly upscale) version of the stereoscopes, which had been popular since the mid-1800s. Most View-Master reels, even old ones, are very affordable today — even the more "valuable" three-reel sets generally sell in the $10 to $50 range — but some of them are far pricier. Probably the most valuable mass-marketed View Master reels are the "mushroom" reels: A complete 33-reel album of "Mushrooms in their Natural Habitats" can sell for over $1,000 today. If your father or grandfather fought in World War II, see if he has any reels in his attic — during the war, the U.S. military used View-Masters and reels to teach soldiers how to identify various models of aircraft and ammunition.
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