“I think this brooch/chair/ugly knickknack might be valuable again.”
Solution: When you hear the appraisers on Antiques Roadshow say that someone’s grandmother’s old Bakelite bracelets would now fetch $500, it’s easy to wonder whether your vintage piece might be worth a bundle. Stop guessing and find out what the item in question is truly worth. Take a 10-minute spin on eBay, searching for an item similar to yours. (Click on “Advanced Search,” then “Completed Listings Only.”) If the sale prices look promising―or if you can’t find equivalent items―consider having the item appraised by an expert. Many local auction houses will do this for free in the hopes that you will sell the item through them later. (Google “auctions” and your city to find an auction house near you.) For the greatest certainty, hire an independent appraiser through the American Society of Appraisers (appraisers.org) or the Appraisers Association of America (appraisersassoc.org). Be sure to ask for an estimate first.
Remember―for something to be considered valuable, it must be in tip-top shape. “People think their old baseball cards or National Geographics are worth money,” says professional organizer Caitlin Shear. “But that’s true only if they’re packaged in a Mylar sleeve and in pristine condition.”