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Surprisingly valuable items you should never throw away when decluttering

Lisa Walden
·4-min read
Photo credit: Debby Lewis-Harrison - Getty Images
Photo credit: Debby Lewis-Harrison - Getty Images

Planning a spring declutter? Rare artwork, antiques and jewellery often sell for a small fortune, but what items should you look out for when taking a gander through the dusty boxes in your loft?

"One of the biggest mistakes people can make with the jewellery, coins, cameras, silverware, and other vintage items they come across during the spring clean is to throw them away," says Antony Charman, TV antique expert.

"More often than not they're unaware of the value of their goods, be them inherited, purchased or received, and they ultimately end up in landfills or pile up in their homes. Boxing them for an expert appraisal is better than binning them, because we will always pay something in return."

To celebrate Vintage Cash Cow's Spring Clear Out campaign, Antony has revealed how you can maximise the payout of any antiques you may come across during your spring clean. Before you begin, some things to remember include:

• Items can be sent in any conditions, regardless of whether they are broken, damaged, or have bits and pieces missing.

• Don't clean items before you send them in. They are worth more in their original state.

• Group your items by category to make it easier to spot items that could be worth something and should go in a box. Groups of items are better and will always be worth more money.

Miscellaneous items

From pens to previous metals, many of us could easily make some extra cash with our belongings. Not sure what to look out for when having a clear out? Take a look at what you should keep your eyes open for...

1. Old stationery: "Any pens and pencils before the birth of the ballpoint pen should be sent in, regardless of the main material being plastic or metal. Fountain pens generally can also have gold nibs," says Antony.

2. Silverware: Things to look out for when decluttering include copper, pewter and silver plated items (dented or not), as well as non-precious metal items.

3. Old smoking pipes: Surprisingly, smoking pieces and cheroots/tobacciana can have great value, so they're also worth holding onto.

4. Jewellery boxes: These could also be worth a small fortune, especially those in good condition.

5. Photography equipment: "Untested or damaged cameras, and additional photography equipment such as lenses are worth more than binning and should be included," Antony explains.

6. Toys: When having a clear out, be sure to hang onto those old toys. Even those that haven't been well looked after may still be worth something.

Photo credit: kalender - Getty Images
Photo credit: kalender - Getty Images

2. Jewellery and watches

If you're checking the house for antiques, make sure you have a good rummage through your jewellery box. You never know what gems you may discover. Some things to remember when sorting out your items include:

• Don't worry if it isn't perfect. According to Antony, jewellery is also subject to the 'any condition' policy, meaning you can still make some cash even if a necklace is tangled or one earring is missing from a pair.

• Your watch doesn't have to be working. "Watches can find a new life as spares or repair pieces, so they should be included in the box, as they will always add value," says Antony.

• Don't forget gentlemen's jewellery. Often overlooked, cufflinks, tie pins, and clips/stick pins can have appraisal value regardless of condition.

• Old plastic or pieces of glasses can often be rare, so always include these in your clear out.

• The gemstone amber comes in various shades, including green, yellow, orange and blue, making it one of the most undervalued gemstones. Keep an eye open for it as many people don't often recognise it.

• "If the pieces are not hallmarked for type of metal and purity, they can be tested in-house, and could still be valuable. Anything can be restored, much like silver items that seem to have lost their luster," adds Antony.

Photo credit: MmeEmil - Getty Images
Photo credit: MmeEmil - Getty Images

3. Coins

A popular hobby, many people enjoy tracking down rare historic coins to add to their collections. If you're having a sort out and are not sure which ones will make you a pretty penny, Antony advises that any currency is accepted at auction houses. As well as this, pre-1947 coins are 50 per cent silver, while pre-1919 are 92-95 per cent silver, so may help you to work out how much you could make.

Photo credit: JoeDphoto - Getty Images
Photo credit: JoeDphoto - Getty Images

4. Military memorabilia

Are you looking to sell military memorabilia? Each item might tell a unique story, but it could also land you a small fortune. From medals to clothing badges and war time memorabilia (sweetheart jewellery), these should all be considered when sorting through. When you're organising any memorabilia, always keep an eye open for broad arrows, such as watches, binoculars, compasses.

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