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The At-Home Treasure Hunt

4 helpful tips to finding the hidden gems in your home



‚ÄčEveryone has a story about the one that got away. The painting of obscure origin, a dusty book or heavy glass vase that sold for a song to an eager bargain hunter that you later realized was a hidden gem cast off like junk. If only you’d known!

Well it’s time to dry your eyes, cut your losses and get your detective’s magnifying glass out. The experts at Everything But The House—an online estate sale company with a team based in Denver—are here to take you on an at-home treasure hunt to find hidden gems living in plain sight.

1. Never question collectibles.

Never underestimate the potential for an item to be a sought-after collectible. There are plenty of everyday items in your home you didn't know could make you money. Vintage media like books, comics, vinyl LPs, video games and even certain VHS tapes can all garner a pretty penny on online auctions. Paper ephemera like old concert posters, political campaign materials, vintage maps and magazines can also be unlikely treasures, particularly when the subject is concerned with an important person, place or event in history. Other more obvious collectible items like old coins or stamps with significant value can be mixed into everyday piles of loose change or stacks of old letters, so keep your eyes peeled.

One of the best ways to determine if you have hidden treasures lying around your home is to check out online auctions. Take the temperature of current markets for collectible items from duck decoys (yes, another unexpectedly sought-after collectible!) to vintage luggage.

2. Keep track of trends.

What goes around comes around. Mid-century modern home design is a perfect example of a classic American style reliving its glory days in contemporary settings. What was once seen as outdated or undesirable can come back in style with a vengeance. This applies to more than just interior design; different forms of technology and media can also experience a reboot in popularity. So before you part with that chrome and Formica dining set, or your dad’s old records, take a look around and see what’s old that’s suddenly new again.

3. Make note of markings.

From furniture with maker’s marks to artwork with signatures, an item with markings will always be worth more than one without. This is partly due to an item’s worth being derived from its provenance (the story behind the item). If you have a piece of furniture you’d like to know more about, it pays off to inspect all sides and interior of the piece. Maker’s marks are often placed in inconspicuous places on furniture like the backs, undersides or inside of drawers. For artwork it always pays to know who created it—even if the artist is obscure. Most artists’ works appreciate posthumously and go with the rise and fall of trends in the art market. A signed work with information tied to it that falls within popular demand can do very well being resold. It’s all about knowing as much as you can about a piece, and striking while the iron is hot.

4. Take a look around.

Above all, when it comes to finding hidden gems in your home, the more you can learn about items you’re interested in reselling or preserving, the better off you’ll be. Armed with information, you won’t fall prey to the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” again. 

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