An antiques expert has revealed the top items hiding in people’s attics that can cost a fortune.
Antiques Roadshow expert Mark Hill said there are many items gathering dust on the shelves that can be worth hundreds and sometimes millions of pounds.
From decades-old games consoles to memorabilia from hit movies, Mr Hill points out that many people have been able to hide seemingly inconsequential items without realizing they could be valuable.
You should also pay close attention to relics. Vintage jewellery, antique maps and military medals can all fetch surprisingly high sums at auction.
“A lot of people who furnish their homes don’t want what they grew up with, but what grandma had is cool,” Mr Hill told FEMAIL.
“When supply is low and demand is high, prices rise – often dramatically; when a product is ‘in vogue’, when demand is low and supply is high, prices fall.”
When searching your attic for items that could make a small fortune, Mark recommends looking for the following items:
Comics: from £50
A first edition of the comic that featured Spider-Man for the first time sold for £2.75m last year (pictured is The Amazing Spider-Man comic)
Vintage comics have long been a collector’s item, but few people realize how much money they can be worth.
The most expensive comic book ever sold was Amazing Fantasy #15, which featured the first appearance of Spider-Man.
In 2021, the comic sold for £2.75 million, making it the most expensive comic in history.
If you can’t find a super-rare first edition Spider-Man comic in your attic, there are plenty of old collectibles that will still fetch some cash on eBay — though maybe not quite millions.
So-called ‘Silver Age’ comics from 1956 to 1969 are now selling for around £50 on a second-hand website.
ORDER: Early releases are the most desirable, but factors such as issues with key points in a character’s story or the introduction of a new character can cause the price to peak
In general, American comics devoted to DC, Marvel and similar characters are usually more valuable than most British comics.
Antique maps: £500
Mr Hill pointed out that antique maps can also sell for around £500 if they are dated enough (pictured: 1800 US map)
According to Mr. Hill, antique maps that depict specific geography are likely to be very valuable.
For example, an 1804 Stafford map recently sold for just under £500.
Sotheby’s website says: “That intriguing old map gathering dust in your closet, or a framed map that’s been in your family for generations, could be worth much more than you imagine.
“It could be an important and valuable part of history.”
The auction house offers a service where you can find out how much your old card might be worth.
Mr Hill notes that 1930s jewelery by designers such as Miriam Haskell can sell for up to £3,400
Some popular jewelry designers who rose to fame in the 1930s command high prices today, with Art Deco accessories in high demand.
In particular, Mr Hill points to Miriam Haskell as a brand that fetches thousands of pounds for a single item. One necklace is currently selling for £3,400.
TIP: Look out for popular brands from the 1930s such as Miriam Haskell, Trifari, Dior, Chanel Kenneth J Lane, Coppola e Topo, Gripoix, Stanley Hagler and Joseff of Hollywood.
War medals – £120,000
Mr Hill notes that 1930s jewelery by designers such as Miriam Haskell can sell for up to £3,400. According to Mr Hill, war medals can be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds (pictured: Flying Cross medal).
The antiques expert notes that military medals can vary in value and the condition they are in is important to how much they will sell for.
However, he also noted that the backstory of the medal and why it was awarded is incredibly important.
In 2011, the Distinguished Service Cross sold for a staggering £120,000, he said.
In an episode of Dickinson’s Real Deal on ITV last autumn, ex-serviceman John sold his war medals for a total of £17,000.
After the medals were auctioned off, the former soldier said he was “thrilled” they had sold for so much.
Limited edition coin – £700
Limited edition 50p coins, such as those circulated ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, are now selling for up to £700
Many people collect coins, which Mr Hill says can definitely pay off – especially those made for special occasions.
In particular, he noted that some London 2012 Olympic coins are selling for hundreds of pounds.
Currently on Ebay he said the water sports coin is worth £700.
Top tip: Look for “coins associated with key events, moments or people in history,” such as the Platinum Jubilee coins. Tim Hogarth of Dickinson’s Real Deal said: “Everything that the Royal Mint has produced as gold coins is set to increase in value significantly over the next 5-10 years.”
First editions of books – £80,000
A first edition of the Harry Potter books is known to sell for £80,000 and Mr Hill recommends looking for other first editions
It is common knowledge that early editions of Harry Potter books can sell for as little as £80,000.
But it’s worth checking your attic for other first editions of classic books, advises Mr Hill.
For example, an early edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is currently on sale for nearly £2,500.
According to lovemoney.com, even first editions of classic stories such as Bridget Jones’s Diary can sell for up to £500.
A first edition uncorrected proof of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting is also estimated at just under £3,000.
Contemporary art – from £1000
The antiques expert also recommends researching contemporary artists who are now considered noteworthy — including Loi Hollowell — and investing in their works, which may appreciate in value over time.
Contemporary art will always be popular, Mr Hill says – you need to know which artists are promising.
Some pieces of contemporary art can sell for as little as £1,000 and will only increase in value over time.
Mr. Hill recommends investing in artists named by Christie’s as ones to watch.
BOTTOM LINE: High value can be found in late 19th century impressionist art.’
Modern and contemporary art and sculpture are increasing in value, while contemporary art and prints such as Banksy fetch big bucks.
Glass – 50 lbs
Mr Hill notes that glass vases and other glassware from the 1930s can sell for around £50
The market for vintage glassware can be huge, especially things like vases from a bygone era.
Mr Hill notes that 1930s Art Deco vases can sell for up to £50.
The Antiques Trade Gazette previously reported that some Art Deco vases were being auctioned for £7,000-£9,000.
Top tip: Look for glass vases from the 1930s or Murano glass vases from the 1970s.
Pottery – £1000
Mr Hill recommends looking at ceramic figurines such as those from Royal Doulton, which can fetch around £1,000.
Many people collect antique pottery and figurines as affordable collectibles.
Mr Hill recommends looking out for Royal Doulton antiques such as dogs and other figurines, which can fetch more than £1,000.
He added: “Chinese porcelain is especially valuable.”
In May of this year, a Chinese porcelain vase that had been stored in the kitchen for several years was sold in England for almost 1.5 million pounds.
The astonished owner’s father bought the vase for just a few hundred pounds in the 1980s.
Tribal Art – Hundreds of pounds
Mr Hill notes that some artworks made by indigenous communities can fetch high prices at auction
Artwork created by indigenous communities can be very valuable depending on when it was created.
According to Mr Hill, some of the figurines can sell for hundreds of pounds.
Artsy.net reports that in 2014 alone, tribal art was sold at auction worldwide for €92.1 million, nearly doubling the total sales of the previous year.
Mr. Hill’s Most Valuable Collectibles in 2022
- Wristwatches are mostly mechanical with complications from the best manufacturers
- Exquisite jewelry
- Art – primarily paintings and prints by some artists, with a strong bias towards late 19th century Impressionist art, including modern art and sculpture
- Wine and whiskey
- Classic cars
- Mid-century modern furniture
- Items related to key events, moments or people in history – such as platinum anniversary memorabilia
- Traditional antique furniture from leading makers or designers such as Thomas Chippendale
- Antiquities – items from Ancient Greece, Rome and other ancient cultures
- Asian ceramics and works of art – especially Chinese porcelain