Are there valuable treasures hiding in your attic?


By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer

“There could be valuable and important treasures hiding in your attic,” says antiques expert Phil Kittredge of Westborough.
“There could be valuable and important treasures hiding in your attic,” says antiques expert Phil Kittredge of Westborough.

REGION – If you’re feeling like your place is a bit crowded and cluttered, maybe it’s time to sell some of that older stuff. But how do you do it?  

Making money from what’s in your house

Though old stuff may seem like junk to you, to someone else, it could be a treasure.  

“Almost every item has some value,” says Phil Kittredge of Westborough, who with his wife, Donna, has been involved with antiques for over four decades. “There are many different avenues,” explained Kittredge, “for disposing of your items.”

If you’ve inherited a house full of things, Kittredge advises an onsite estate sale if you want to sell large items, such as furniture. Companies hired for this service will manage everything.  Usually along with the fee for this service, they will get a commission for each item sold. For small items, such as coins, it’s best to sell in an auction-style setting, online or live. The auction house will collect a commission for selling your item.  

What about eBay?

Many might advise you to sell your stuff on eBay or LiveAuctioneers.  Kittredge warns there’s a lot of work involved in using this route so it may not be what you want to do. But if you go this way, he suggests searching the completed auctions on these sites to determine a final selling price for your things.  

Kittredge says to be prepared to be a bit disappointed. “Many items thought to be rare before eBay, are now found online frequently,” he noted. 
This simply means your item is not so unique as you thought and that means not worth as much as you may have hoped for.

Old doesn’t always mean good

It’s important to remember that just because what you’ve got is old―even very old―it may not be very valuable. Kittredge explains that condition is key in evaluating items and placing a value on them.  

“A crack, chip or missing piece can reduce an item’s value by at least fifty percent or more,“ he said.

High demand items

Some types of old items are always in demand, such as toys.  

“Toys are one of the few items that are always in demand,” said Kittredge. “Many buyers are eager to obtain their favorite toy from childhood. At a recent auction, a plastic Superman doll from 1940 sold for over $3,000. Having the original box for that 1940s toy can even double the price.”

However you decide to sell your items, Kittredge explained that the true value of a piece is what the final bidder will actually pay at auction or what the customer will pay at your local antique shop. Don’t be greedy; price your item fairly and it will sell.

Get special items appraised

If you are pretty sure you’ve got some things that may be valuable, then you should take them to a local reputable antique shop or auction house. Kittredge advises to take your item to several antique shops. Don’t settle for the first offer. Check out consignment shops too.  

“I usually tell someone to take their valued possession to an auction house,” said Kittredge.  “Even your local auction house will most likely be able to determine if an item has special significance and value. It pays to investigate and find an auction house that specializes in the type of item you’ve got.”

You never know; you could be very lucky. The federal credentials for former federal agent Eliot Ness recently sold for $40,000.

“This just reminds us that there could be valuable and important treasures hiding in your attic,” added Kittredge.



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