Anyone who’s ever cleaned out an attic or a dusty garage has probably looked around and wondered: could any of this old junk actually be worth something? Most of the time, all that stuff collecting dust is pretty useless, but every so often, there’s a treasure hiding in plain sight.
That’s exactly why lots of people have their items appraised—especially on PBS’s popular TV series Antiques Roadshow. Although most of the guests head home with not much more than insight into their items, the lucky owners of these 20 objects ended up making bank!
1. Gold-plated Luxus II camera ($620,000): This pricey camera was once called “the rarest camera in the world.” Only four of this gold-and-snakeskin device were ever made; this one (pictured) is the last in existence!
2. Jardiniere vase ($820,000): Believe it or not, the woman who owned this vase used to let her children use it as a goal post when they played soccer. She had no idea that it worth such an impressive sum.
3. Prussian plate ($185,000): When the owner of this plate asked to have her items appraised, she was counting on her books to be the most valuable. That was until she found out that this plate was once owned by the King of Prussia himself!
4. Diego Rivera painting ($800,000): This man had this painting—by none other than Diego Rivera himself—hanging behind his office door for years before he decided to get it appraised. Thank goodness he did!
5. Original 1950s mobile ($400,000-$600,000): This might not look like much on the surface, but it was actually one of the first mobiles ever made—and by the toy’s inventor, Alexander Calder, no less!
6. Jade bowls ($1.5 million): An amateur art collector who really knew his stuff picked up this lot of jade in China for less than $20. Now his children and grandchildren are reaping the rewards of that investment.
7. Navajo blanket ($750,000): Blankets just like this one were once made exclusively for Native American Ute chiefs. To date, this is one of the most well-preserved examples of this type of blanket. Its value will only ever go up!
8. “Ozzy the Owl” ($25,000): This vase might not look like very much, but it’s actually a rare piece from the year 1640. The previous owner used it for flowers and had no idea of its actual value. It is now safe in a museum.
9. Clyfford Still painting ($500,000): When the owner of this painting moved into a new house, a family friend gave it to her as a housewarming gift. They had no idea it was painted by one of the American greats!
10. Original Peanuts comic strips ($450,000): The late comic artist Charles Schultz famously used to give away his original comic strips once they went to press. This woman’s collection cost her just $400! Talk about a good return on investment.
11. Anthony van Dyck painting ($673,000): A local parish priest was able to snag this painting for only $500 because it was believed to be a fake. However, the joke’s on the seller—it is absolutely the real deal!
12. Edgar Allan Poe photograph ($50,000): Sometimes it turns out that good things really do come in very, very small (and very, very old) packages! The tiny photograph of the late dark and dreary poet was worth way more than anyone expected.
13. Rhino horn teacups ($1.5 million): These were purchased on a whim by a tourist in Africa in the 1970s. When he learned how much they were worth, the man had an actual asthma attack.
14. Norman Rockwell’s The Little Model ($500,000): Believe it or not, this famous painting by the legendary American artist Norman Rockwell was simply given as a gift to this lucky owner. He couldn’t believe how much it was really worth!
15. Winston Churchill’s cigar ($1,000): This cigar, which the former United Kingdom Prime Minister reportedly chomped on during his famous D-Day decision, earned its owner a pretty penny. Other cigars once owned by Churchill have been valued up to $12,000!
16. Original Honus Wagner baseball card ($780,000): This is one of the earliest baseball cards on record, and it’s even more special because so few were printed of Honus Wagner. Thankfully, this one was in mint condition.
17. Patek Philippe pocket watch ($1.5 million): It isn’t just the beauty of this watch that makes it so valuable; it’s also the fact that it was made for American entrepreneur George Thompson.
18. Joseph Kleitsch oil painting ($500,000): When this woman found a painting for sale at a thrift store, she thought it was worth the “pricey” $100 fee and bought it happily. She was even happier when she learned how much it was really worth!
19. Boston Red Sox memorabilia ($1 million): Baseball cards and paraphernalia will also catch a pretty penny, but this collection predates the collecting craze, which is part of what makes it so valuable!
20. Seymour card table ($600,000): The woman who owns this tiny table actually purchased it at a yard sale for no more than $25! Why is it worth so much? Because it was made by a very renowned designer.
Can you believe how much these people had laying around in their attics? It definitely makes you want to revisit your own stash of junk and see if you have any secret contenders hiding away in there!
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