Want to know which things in your garage can fetch the highest prices with collectors?
ALBUMS: Mint-condition promotional recordings from well-known artists on acetate, says Scott Neuman of Forever Vinyl in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The grail: The Beatles’ so-called Butcher Block album, which features the Fab Four holding beheaded baby dolls, an image so controversial the album was withdrawn and reissued.
ANTIQUE JEWELRY: Any type of signed designer piece (Tiffany, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels) or pieces that have a recognizable vintage style, like Art Deco, says Richard Brodney, owner of Brodney Antiques and Jewelry in Boston.
BOOKS: Good-condition photography, art, and history books. Collectible first editions from classic authors, such as Faulkner and Dicekns, and a few modern scribes, such as Stephen King. (A rare, leather-bound copy of The Regulators, written by King under the pen name Richard Bachman, sold at abebooks.com for $8,000.)
COINS: Anything gold. According to Bob Walter, co-owner of Sam Sloat Coins in Westport, Connecticut, those old silver dollars are practically worthless: “It’s not the age of the coin, it’s the number of them that were made and the condition.” Tip: Don’t clean your coins. “Anything you do will disturb the original surface and affect the value,” Walter says.
COMIC BOOKS: Any first appearances of characters from the 1930s to the 1960s, says Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles in New York.
FURNITURE: Stickley, Mission oak, Arts and Crafts, Heywood Wakefield, says auctioneer Walt Koenda.
POTTERY AND PORCELAIN: Collectible European figurines from the 18th century and anything that looks as if it represents the age in which it was made (like figures in period costumes), through the ’60s and ’70s.
SPORTS TRADING CARDS: Vintage cards in good condition from the turn of the 20th century through the ’60s. A key card of a player on the biggest stage (the Olympics, the Super Bowl) can appreciate significantly. After Michael Phelps’s performance in Beijing, one of his autographed cards went from $60 to $800 in the span of a week.
TOYS: According to Alex Winter of Hake’s Americana and collectibles, anything tied to the first Star Wars film that’s still in the blister pack is like gold—the toys were made in such huge quantities that original packaging is the key (forget the Luke Skywalker without the light saber buried in the attic somewhere). With older, still-coveted toys, such as Disneyana from the 30s, the box it came in is not as important, though it still ups the value.