Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Cash for clutter: how to make money from what’s in the attic

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One person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure, as they say, so you could make a chunk of cash by selling unwanted items cluttering your attic and cupboards.

Coins, retro toys and games, old tech, books and magazines can all be sold, with some items possibly worth a lot more than you may think.

Dig out old toys

Toys don’t have to be 50 or 100 years old to be worth money. For example, Beanie Babies became a big collectible in the 1990s, and while the vast majority of these stuffed toys will not be worth much at all, some can fetch a high price – so it’s worth checking your collection and seeing whether you have any hidden gems.

Some of the Beanie Babies that had limited production runs may be valuable, say experts, for example, the original royal blue Peanut the Elephant, which was launched in 1995 but quickly withdrawn and replaced by a light blue version. There are claims that it could earn you a four-figure sum.

The website Beaniepedia says: “The Royal Blue version is one of the most rare and valuable Beanie Babies in existence, fetching high prices when sold.” A Beanie Babies Halo the Bear sold via an eBay auction for £800 in June. Job lots of toys can sometimes sell for a decent-ish sum if you don’t have any particularly rare ones in your collection.

The same rules apply to Lego. Limited-edition, vintage sets in mint condition can sell for hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of pounds.

Chris Wharfe, the editor of Brick Fanatics, a website dedicated to all things Lego, says: “The most valuable sets tend to be those that have a limited run or are attached to a popular IP [intellectual property] like Star Wars.

“Even regular sets often skyrocket in price if they are sealed – stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like an obscure Marvel set or a Castles or Pirates set from your childhood. Anything that’s part of a series usually increases in value, too.”

Wharfe says some good examples of valuable older sets are 10143 Lego Star Wars UCS Death Star II from 2005, 10182 Lego Creator Expert Cafe Corner from 2007 (the first modular building), and 6399 Monorail Airport Shuttle from 1990, “all of which are worth four figures new and sealed”.

Other toys that can be worth money include pre-1998 Polly Pockets (a range of dolls and accessories), some items in the My Little Pony range (for example, Mimic, a unicorn pony that was part of the Twinkle Eyed Ponies range), and certain Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, says the website Save the Student.

Coins can be worth a mint

Front with a bird, obverse with head of George VI

Again, they don’t have to be hundreds of years old. Changechecker.org has a scarcity index, ranking the UK’s most sought-after 10p, 50p and £2 coins based on how rare they are. The higher a coin ranks on the index, the more valuable it is likely to be.

Look out for coins with commemorative designs such as the Kew Gardens 50p, which has a score of 100 on the index. One of these recently sold on eBay for £147, attracting 24 bids. Other rare 50p coins include the London 2012 Olympics judo, triathlon and football designs.

Meanwhile, the scarcest 10p coin is the robin design, released in 2018-19 as part of a series on quintessentially British icons. It features a robin inside the letter R, surrounded by snowflakes.

Jewellery, medals, etc

The over-50s website Saga previously partnered with the BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Mark Hill to identify some of the most sought-after collectibles. Costume jewellery can be a big earner if it is the right item; they said popular names from the 1930s onwards were highly desirable, such as vintage Miriam Haskell designs. Her necklaces can go for thousands of pounds.

With medals, they said that while condition played a role, “the greater the significance of its backstory, the more value it holds”. A Distinguished Service Cross sold for £120,000 in 2011.

Hill said items to look out for included wristwatches and those related to key events, moments or people in history.

Choose a reselling platform

Tattooed arm with a pile of vinyl records and a record player

Once you have a selection of items to sell, do your research to find out where to list them to get the best price. Start by checking what similar items have sold for on each platform.

EBay, probably the best-known reselling site with millions of users worldwide, is simple to use. However, a specialist website may be worth considering for niche items.

Vinted is a simple way to sell high street clothes but items are typically priced relatively low. If you are selling vintage or designer clothes, a specialist website such as Vestiaire Collective could be more effective.

While vinyl records are likely to command higher prices, if you have a glut of old CDs, you could make some cash by flogging them on an app or site such as musicMagpie. Each individual CD typically is not going to be worth much but, depending on the size of the collection, it could add up to a worthwhile amount.

There are also apps that specifically cater to people trying to offload unwanted items fast. These can be convenient to use but you are unlikely to secure high prices, so they may be better for those flogging a large quantity of lower-value items such as CDs and non-rare books.

Bear in mind that platforms may charge listing fees or take a cut of the final price.

In-person options include car boot sales but, again, shoppers are often after a bargain, so they are unlikely to pay top dollar, even if your item is worth it.

Get your items verified and priced

The better the item’s condition, the more money you are likely to make. Check the quality of your item and list it accurately on whichever platform you choose. Don’t list a record as being in mint condition if it has a scratch on it, for example.

You could visit an expert to give you an authenticity verification and provide a valuation. This will cost money, so will eat into your profits, but a verification of authenticity could help you sell faster and for a higher price, so it is a balancing act for you to decide on a case-by-case basis.

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