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One man's trash is another man's treasure

Published 12 August 2011 by

Did you know that there could be hidden treasure in your attic, your jewellery box, or even your music collection? But before you say "no there isn't", be inspired by these two stories from the last twelve months!

Pensioner's brooch worth £35,000

This year, a lady in Leicestershire nearly sold a gothic-style brooch she had inherited from her mother for £10 on a market stall. By some twist of fate, she forgot to take the brooch with her.

Two days later she saw an appeal for a brooch that looked like hers on the TV programme 'Antiques Roadshow'. She approached the programme makers, who valued the brooch at £10,000. Delighted, the pensioner put the brooch up for auction where it sold to an anonymous London collector for £35,000.

Rare Chinese vase scoops £53m

Just last year, a mother and her son from Middlesex found a rare antique Chinese vase in her parents' loft when clearing the property. After initially ignoring the vase, they later decided to have it valued.

They put it up for auction after it was valued at between £180,000 and £1.2m. After a frantic bidding war by Chinese buyers, the vase finally fetched £53m.

Finding the hidden treasure in your home

These people didn't think their valuables were worth anything - and you could be sitting on something worth far more than you realised too!

We don't recommend selling anything of sentimental value, family heirlooms or the family silver. However, anything that you have outgrown, no longer need, or no longer use, that's in fair condition, could be valuable to someone else and is worth selling on.

A famous saying goes 'one man's trash is another man's treasure', so read our guide to finding money that you never knew you had!


Antiques are generally at least 100 years old and are more valuable when they have rarity, clarity, beauty or craftsmanship. General things to look out for when finding antiques are a signature, mark or date stamp, any damage and whether that damage is repairable, style (whether it looks good) and whether it's genuine - a specialist should be able to tell you.

You could try to find antiques at car boot sales, in charity shops or around your home.

Collectibles / Memorabilia

Collectible items are generally considered the 'antiques of the future' and people collect all kinds of weird and wonderful things. Search through your household items for collectibles, which could include anything from coins and stamps to old board games or electronic games - which may have 'retro' appeal!

Collectibles could include celebrity memorabilia. If it's signed, it should come with a certificate of authenticity, as without one the value drops.

You could find collectibles at car boot sales or in charity shops - or go through your items from childhood and see what you unearth.

When selling your antiques or collectibles, target your market and seek out specialist buyers or retailers, who will often pay more money for your items.

A word of warning - if you are very fond of something, or someone special gave it to you, just bear in mind that it could be more valuable to you than to anyone else. So try to be objective when getting items valued, rather than offended by what you see as a low offer. Having said that, if you think you could get more elsewhere, it doesn't hurt to try.

CDs, DVDs, games and electronics

You may have something really desirable to a music fan in your music collection. People still collect vinyl, so have a dig around your old record collection for rare items.

Selling items individually, instead of as a 'job-lot', may raise more cash (unless they're part of a set).

One popular way to sell on old CDs, games, DVDs, etc. is through Ebay. You could also take your collection to an independent retailer, or have a car boot sale. Musicmagpie will value your CDs, games and DVDs and pay you for them - the website will also pay for the delivery.

Children's clothes and toys

Once your children begin to outgrow their clothes and toys, you could sell them on, unless you want to give them to a younger sibling or a friend's child. Many parents need affordable baby equipment, such as Moses baskets, cots, pushchairs, shoes and clothes, as well as bikes and toys for older children.

You might also like to clear out your own wardrobe at the same time, by selling any items that you have outgrown or never wear - and that are in a good condition.

Unclaimed money

Have you thought about any benefits that you may be entitled to? Billions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed every year. Read our guide to benefits, including ones you may never have heard of.

Many people still haven't claimed money they're entitled to because they were missold PPI. Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is sometimes sold with loans. Depending on the policy, it could cover your loan payments for a certain period of time, if you're ill or made redundant.

Many people were missold this type of insurance when they took out a loan - and a huge number of compensation payments have been made to those people recently.

If you believe a PPI policy was missold to you, you could be entitled to a refund for the PPI payments.

Online consumer forums will tell you how to reclaim those payments yourself and even offer template letters.

What are you worth?

Before you throw away your old items, think about what they're worth! You may not find a Chinese vase worth £53m, but whatever you do make could go towards something you need.

What motivates you? Would you like to redecorate your spare room? Redecorate the kids' bedroom? Redesign your garden? Buy a big screen TV? Pay off your debts? Renovate your home? Take a holiday? Put the money aside for a rainy day? Use your goal as your motivation for finding hidden money wherever you can find it!

And if this article leads you to find a rare Chinese vase, please remember to thank thinkmoney!