16 Common Household Items That Are Worth a Fortune

Sam Mire

A penny found is better than a penny earned, as you don’t have to pay taxes on the penny found (until you spend it, at least). Even better than seeing a penny, why don’t you try to find something lying around your attic or closet and flip it for a few thousand bucks?

This isn’t as crazy a proposal as it sounds. As you will find, there are many household items you might assume worthless that, eBay proves, are anything but. Because “old” is a common theme among high-value household items, you might have to shoot a thank you to your grandmother after the eBay auction concludes.

1. Books

Woman buying books
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

I'm sorry, but your worn paperback copy of Fifty Shades of Grey will only fetch disapproving glances from the literati. 

A first edition of Animal Farm, The Time Machine, or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, though? If you can scrounge up one of these or any other rare books, you might be due for an unexpected Christmas bonus this year.

2. Luggage

woman packing a suitcase for vacation, travel, a lot of things do not fit in the suitcase.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

To be more specific, we mean old luggage. eBay is littered with completed auctions in which buyers paid several thousand dollars for luggage from only a couple of decades ago. 

While many of these auctions involve luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and RIMOWA, you should also look out for the kinds of luggage you might see Harry Potter toting to school. Antiques fetch value; old luggage is all the rage in many circles.

3. Video Games

videogame date
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Yes, the price of a Playstation 5 is ludicrous, especially in these tight economic times. We’re not talking about the latest release from Microsoft or Sony, though; when we talk about video games and consoles, you should keep an eye out for it.

Many parents and adults have kept their (or their kids’) old Nintendo games, consoles, and Sega Dreamcasts for nostalgia alone. Well, nostalgia pays, as certain games and consoles are fetching tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes more, on the secondhand market.

Nerds make and spend money on their hobbies. Shocker!

4. Beanie Babies

Beanie Babies
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If you grew up in a particular era (the Beanie Baby era), the plush handheld sacks of beans with a heart-shaped “Ty” tag affixed to their ear are part of your history. Don’t lie; you had one. 

Rare Beanie Babies became the wares of counterfeiters and the target of even some home invaders. Still, a series of blunders by Founder Ty Warner and his team (as well as a momentary return to sanity by the American people) prompted a softening of the Beanie Baby market. I said momentary because a $1 million Beanie Baby (and several five-figure Babies) have sold on eBay in 2024.

5. Lunch Boxes

credit: depositphotos

Back in the day, lunchboxes had character. Rather than single-colored, ultra-compact,  portable, and thoroughly forgettable, we used to tote our ham sandwiches in tin boxes that said something about our interests and character.

These distinct metal creations have become collectors’ items, with a Gilligan’s Island box fetching more than $2,400 and a 1966 Batman and Robin box going for two grand.  

6. Boy Scout Badges

Boy Scout Badges
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Few experiences are as similar to a boy’s childhood as his time in the Scouts. Whether it was slicing your finger with the Swiss-made knife or getting not a single wink of sleep as unknown threats made menacing noises outside your tent, what wasn’t to love about being a Boy Scout?

Here’s one more thing to love: vintage merit badges regularly go for three- and four-figure sales prices on eBay. “Ma! The merit badges!”

7. Toasters

Toaster
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Brands like Oster and Hamilton Beach are probably fit for the scrap pile, though market trends might suggest throwing out any toaster could be a mistake you rue in about 50 years. 

Toasters from the 1960s, including a Sunbeam Radiant T-35, have commanded several hundred dollars. We never thought we’d be praying for Mom to leave us her old toaster in the will, but here we are.

8. Cookbooks 

Happy Woman cooking in kitchen
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Sure, being able to Google any recipe you want is nice. That being said, let’s add to the list one more pleasure the internet has robbed us of Flipping rare cookbooks for fat stacks of cash.

You might still be in luck if you have not scour your or your relatives’ shelves for collector-item recipe books. Some names to watch for are Auguste Escoffier, Julia Child, and Irma Rombauer. If the book looks old, Google (or eBay), itto see if it holds value. 

9. Board Games

boardgames
credit: depositphotos

That same game you mockingly called a “bored game” when your parents made you play it decades ago may not be a laughing matter. It might be a fortune. 

Do Risk: 40th Anniversary Edition, Boris Karloff’s Monster Game, Mickey Mouse Snakes and Ladders, or Haunted House ring a bell? If these or any other rare game you (or your parents) were wise enough to resist scrapping ultimately net you a hefty payday (as they have for other sellers), apologize to that game for mocking it. That’s the least you can do.

10. Toys

toys

If you’ve ever watched American Pickers, you might know that a toy can be much more than a toy. A toy can be a rare collector’s item, and it can also be something you sell for an unexpected (but welcome) windfall.

Among the multi-thousand-dollar antique toys recently sold on eBay are:

  • A wooden Superman figurine.
  • Several cast-iron train sets.
  • Porcelain dolls.
  • Models of classic cars. 

11. Glasses

Cupcakes and champagne glasses on table
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The items we now assume will break in weeks or months were once produced with durability and care. Vintage eyeglasses are among the items that, as time has given way to more cruddy products, we have come to appraise and pay good money for.

Brands including Cartier, Jean Paul Gaultier, TART, and Chrome Hearts have proven valuable on the secondhand auction market. 

12. Clocks

That antique wall clock you’ve never thought twice about might be your key to an early retirement. While it’s usually not advisable to part with precious family heirlooms, what if I told you eBay is full of relatively unspectacular-looking clocks that have sold for more than $10,000?

It’s beyond time to look a bit closer at those clocks.

13. Magazines

Magazines
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zSome magazines shouldn’t be on the coffee table, vulnerable to spills and other hazards. A December 1953 Playboy featuring Marilyn Monroe, for instance, might not command the $15,000 it did in April 2024 if it had a Folgers-tinted circle on the cover (not that you’d have a Playboy on your coffee table, but you get what I’m saying).

Rare, well-maintained copies of SLAM, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated are among other items that have sold for high price points in recent years. 

14. Jewelry

Jewelry Making
credit: depositphotos

Jewelry has intrinsic value, but the value of certain types of jewelry also lies in longevity. As certain pieces are no longer produced and other items in rare collections get lost and damaged, the value of a pearl necklace or pendants can increase simply by sitting untouched in the jewelry box.

Even if jewelry isn’t especially rare, it’s jewelry. It probably has some intrinsic value. 

15. Typewriter

typewriter
credit: depositphotos

While it could certainly help the value, a typewriter does not have to be the property of Mark Twain or Hunter S. Thompson to carry value. The machine that was the precursor to the Word processor can now be a collector's item, with certain brands commanding higher auction bids than others.

A Remington typewriter once sold for $27,000 on eBay, but that was a rarity. Still, you might fetch a couple (or few) hundred bucks for a typewriter that would serve only as a dust collector.

16. Vinyl Records

Vinyl record collection
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Make sure you thank your local hipster if you uncover a collection of rare vinyl records in a relative’s attic. In truth, wax records were always cool and would have inevitably made their resurgence even without the contingent that disproportionately resides in Brooklyn.

Some heavy hitters in the vinyl space include Bob Dylan, Queen, Prince, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, old bluesmen, Elvis, and any record that qualifies as rare (and in demand). 

15 Items That You Might Want to Buy Used

Sell Unused items
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Everyone has their philosophy on used versus new. Many believe that a used vehicle is the most valuable. Others prefer the peace of mind of knowing exactly how many miles the vehicle has traveled (zero). Some items (like underwear) should only be purchased secondhand in the most dire financial circumstances. For other items, even financially well-to-do buyers would be wise to consider buying used.

15 Items That You Might Want to Buy Used

16 Items Boomers Buy When They Retire That Are Completely Useless

Retiree Buys
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Until you get there, retirement can feel like the great unknown. You have a plan but still don’t know precisely what challenges and adventures lie in wait. Fortunately, you have your own metaphorical Edmund Hillarys and Chris Columbuses who have forged the path through retirement before you. Retirement success stories are proof that gliding smoothly on the raft of retirement savings is possible, but not if you make foolish purchases like these.

16 Items Boomers Buy When They Retire That Are Completely Useless

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