Sometimes it can be hard to understand what items hold value and what items do not when winning a storage unit. Of course, you have the usual suspects that will always go for a big chunk of change such as tools, high-end washers and dryers, power equipment, and motor vehicles galore. But what about those units filled with boxes of old books, toys, or artwork? Is there a market out there to buy those items?
In some cases, you may have a fortune on your hands and not even know it! So, we’re here to give you a rundown of five collectables to look out for when treasure-hunting on StorageAuctions.com.
1.) Trading Cards
You may have left your trading cards in your childhood, but some of these cards have accrued quite the value over the years. May it be due to scarcity, rarity, or popularity of a card, some cards gather value over the years, far more than their original printing.
A few of the more lucrative franchises for cards include baseball, basketball, Magic the Gathering, and Pokémon.
Of course, when talking about expensive trading cards, we cannot overlook the holy grail of trading cards: the Honus Wagner 1909-1911 ATC baseball card. Honus Wagner was a player for the Pittsburgh Pirates and is consider by fans to be one of the best baseball players of all time. In 2007, a mint Honus Wagner card went for 2.8 million while up for auction in 2007. But why is this card so popular? Well, the card was produced and distributed by the American Tobacco Company, however Wagner refused to allow production of the card to continue, due to not wishing to market cigarettes to children. This left only 50-200 cards accessible to the public!
Along with baseball cards, we have seen a big rise in the price of both Pokémon and Magic the Gathering cards. Japanese fantasy cartoon Pokémon took the United States entertainment world by storm. Not only did it comprise a television series and video game, but the coordinating card game became popular in the ‘90s and still is to this day. Magic the Gathering also debuted in the ‘90s due to an influx in interest in fantasy such as Dungeons and Dragons and J.R. Tolkien’s book series, and like Pokémon, still remains popular today.
The most expensive Pokemon card sold to this day was an exclusive card not given to the public, with only 39 given to winners of a competition in Japan. The card, Illustrator Pikachu, was sold in 2019 for $220,000. As for Magic the Gathering, the most expensive card, Black Lotus, frequently sells for $27,000 to this day.
2.) Dolls and Toys
In the ‘90s, we all thought that Beanie Babies would be where the money would end. In retrospect, we may have been wrong. While Beanie Babies may not have gathered the value we originally thought, some of the other toys from our childhood have!
Turns out, the hype for Cabbage Patch dolls was entirely founded. In 1983, this was the first holiday “toy fad” to nearly cause riots, as shoppers pushed and shoved each other to get to the dolls. Cabbage Patch creator Xavier Roberts copyrighted his design in 1976 and sold the rights to company Giant Coleco in 1982. Dolls that were made prior to the Coleco handover are worth the most by far. Today, you can see original dolls going from anywhere between $500 and $2,000 – talk about a chunk of change!
Along with Cabbage Patch dolls, some other toy lines that are popular with collectors include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Furby, and vintage videogame memorabilia. One fun fact is that Barbie dolls of Barbie’s friends such as Midge, Allen, PJ, Christie, and more from the ‘60s and ‘70s can sometimes garner more value than the dolls of Barbie herself during this time due to smaller productions!
Coin collecting dates to when coins were first invented, making accumulating valuable coins one of the world’s oldest hobbies. While coin collecting has been common for hundreds of years, it didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1850s. Today, a coin’s mint mark is a small letter on the coin’s face, which denotes what city it was produced in. The mark is small but remains an important factor in determining a coin’s value.
Coins can garner popularity and collectability in some of the same ways the a few of the collectables we mentioned earlier, however misprints are a notorious way coins earn value. A few coins still in circulation in the U.S. have gathered value from misprinting such as the Wisconsin quarter!
Wisconsin’s quarter came out in 2004; the reverse design features a cow, a wheel of cheese and a partially husked ear of corn lurking in the back. The misprint on this coin comes from the ear of corn on the back containing one extra leaf and can sell for up to $300 on auction.
You never know what coin could be hiding in that storage unit you’re bidding on as we speak!
“Stamp collecting” is the accumulation of material related to the payment of postage and the carriage mail. In addition to traditional postage stamps, many philatelists – the fancy word for stamp collectors – also collect covers and envelopes that carried the mail. This is often considered to be “your grandfather’s,” collectable, but stamp collecting continues in all generations, young and old.
As recommended by the U.S. Postal Service, when figuring the value of a stamp, ask yourself two questions: “How rare is it?” and “What condition is it in?” Stamp catalog prices will give you an idea of the stamp’s rarity. However, the stamp may sell at more or less than the catalog price, depending on its condition.
Debatably the rarest stamp error in U.S. history, the Inverted Jenny is among the most mythical to stamp collectors and auctioneers alike. A printing error caused the blue vignette —the airplane and the air around it— to be printed upside down, while the red border framing the scene was printed correctly. The error only appeared on a single sheet of 100 stamps, leading to the price of this misprint to soar. In 2016, a single Inverted Jenny sold for $1,351,250 while at auction.
You may not find and Inverted Jenny in your unit, but who knows what the stamps on that old mail may be worth?
5.) Fine Art
Fine art is arguably the most lucrative collectable type in the world. The trick with fine art and artwork in general is that it can be tricky to nail down what art will be valuable 20 years from now. Thus, a lot of art will be put away for many years in someone’s storage container, unknown to the world. This can most be seen as in 2018, an art dealer brought a unit for $15,000 only to find over $50,000 worth of original William deCooning paintings.
Even more recently, on our very own StorageAuctions.com, one of our bidders purchased a unit for $500, only to discover two paintings by Joseph Sheppard worth around $35,000-$40,000. This bidder was not even aware the paintings were there – talk about a pleasant surprise!
Finding an original piece of artwork can take a good eye and quite a lot of luck, however, many famous artists also produce prints and bronze-castings of original pieces that can still garner quite a lot of value. Degas, for instance, produced many bronze-castings in his ballerina series. Any sculpture from this collection can range from $5,000 or even up to $40,000 depending on the print number and the signature.
Not all storage units contain a hidden gem – some really may just contain a bunch of mail, some old toys, and some amateur paintings. However, we hope we convinces you to look twice at some of the things you may write-off as junk, and most of all, happy hunting!
Found something cool in a storage unit? We’d love to hear all about it! Give us a call at 866-944-8530