The key to knowing whether there’s buried treasure in her home is knowing what to look for, and why it may be worth something.

By Rose Truesdale
Updated April 05, 2018
Woman Looking at Old Books
Credit: Eva-Katalin/Getty Images

A universal truth about grandmas: they hang onto stuff. And while your childhood drawings probably have only sentimental value (unless, of course, you are a Rembrandt), there could be some actual treasure buried beneath decades of dust. Here’s what to look for:

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Woman Looking at Old Books
Credit: Eva-Katalin/Getty Images

1 First-Edition Books

A first-edition copy of Hubert Howe Bancroft’s “Book of Wealth” can literally make you a millionaire, and an original copy of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” from 1900 can net you a cool $100K.

2 Random Mason Jars

Before Mason Jars became a whiskey cocktail vessel beloved by hipsters everywhere, they functioned as canning jars, jam jars--you know, grandma stuff. And if your grandma happened to purchase a rare Upside-Down Ball Mason Jar issued between 1900 and 1910 to dispense coffee grounds, or a Violet Columbia Mason Jar with an accidental purple hue due to excess manganese in the glass, you can now sell them for $1,000 and $400, respectively. That’s some nice loose change for your piggy bank that is, in fact, another Mason Jar.

3 Old Cereal Boxes

It would admittedly be strangely prophetic if your grandma had the foresight to hold onto a miniature Tiger Woods edition Wheaties box, but if someone in your family really, really loves Tiger Woods or Wheaties, maybe you can convince them to part ways with this breakfast packaging from 1999 for a casual $20,000. Just maybe.

4 Toys from the Nineties

If you or your kids were children of the nineties, you could be in luck. Your old Furby can bring in over $500. If your grandma kept a backup Tamagotchi — one of those egg-shaped digital pets — in its original box, you can trade it in for thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, Happy Meal Toys and tiny, individual Lego bricks can bring in hundreds, too.

5 Vintage Quilts

Quilts from the 19th century are commonly appraised at $5,000 or more. If your grandma or your great grandma was a quilting bee queen, and you’re in possession of such an heirloom, you may want to reconsider exiling it to your daughter’s dorm room. Just saying.

6 Highly Specific Furniture

Ever heard of a sheet music cabinet? Perennial favorite of musical grandmas everywhere, this cupboard held sheet music categorized by size, instrument and genre. What’s more, it can now fetch around $1,000.

7 Cameo Brooches

The epitome of grandma chic, cameos are carved Victorian pins typically featuring stone-carved feminine silhouettes. If your grandma stockpiled these baubles, you may be sitting pretty on a small fortune. Authentic pieces (i.e. not plastic) can sell for thousands of dollars.