You’ve probably heard that you can sell off your old electronics and other things for a substantial amount more than you initially paid for them. Examples of these are old toys such as Furbies and the original Gameboy, as well as first edition Pokemon trading cards. Even vintage clothing and costume jewelry can fetch you a hefty sum, provided they are in good condition and are old enough to be attractive. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – you just have to find someone who will consider your junk as their treasure.
However, there are actual instances when people have thrown away good old stuff, thinking that they’re worthless, only to find out later that they were sold for staggering amounts at auction houses. Boy oh boy, you can bet they’re sorry that they’ve let those treasures go!
Thankfully, there are other instances when people were quick to recognize treasure at the face value. Here are some instances when people were able to find treasure in their own stashes.
1. The Declaration of Independence for $4
A man went to a Pennsylvania flea market in 1989 and purchased a dismal painting for $4, just because he liked the ornate frame. Later on, he threw away the painting and the frame – but kept the Declaration of Independence he found in the backing. It was folded up and the owner thought it was a 19-th century painting – so he kept it.
Two years later, the owner showed it to a friend who convinced him to show it to experts. It turns out that he was in possession of one of the first 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence. Only 24 copies have survived then, and his was the lucky 25th. His was even more special, because experts say that the ink was still wet when the document was folded – as was evident in the shadow printing at the bottom margin in reverse.
At first, the item was estimated to be worth at least $800,000. When it was put into auction, it sold for the solid tune of $2.4 million.
2. A Valuable Painting in a Couch
In Germany, a student bought a pullout couch for just $215 – and found out a treasure that paid off for the couch in more than 10 folds.
The lucky student found a small painting estimated to have been painted between 1605 to 1620. While it was minute by stature – it was only 10- by 15-inch – it was sold at a Hamburg art auction for a cool $27,630.
So the next time you’re in need of second-hand furniture, make sure to prod the cushions – a valuable piece of art might just be your ticket to a fresh start.
3. A $46 Job Lot that Turned into Hundreds of Thousands
Over a decade ago, Robin Darvell bought a cardboard box full of knickknacks in Canterbury, England. Among the thingamajigs in the box is a small artwork, roughly the size of a postcard. It shows a rural scene, with a bright blue sky, lots of trees, and a meadow.
As it turns out, the tiny painting was a John Constable original. Constable was an English Romantic painter, renowned for his landscape paintings. To make it even more valuable, the painting has never been displayed in public before.
Naturally, its new owner is over the moon with his find. The postcard painting is estimated to be worth more than $390,000.
4. A TV stand that turned out to be a lost masterpiece
An engineer got lucky when he bought an ornately designed chest for $160 in 1970, which he used as a TV stand. It was very sturdy and very beautiful to look at. After 16 years of this, the engineer retired and used it as a bar.
When the engineer passed on, his family had his estate appraised and found out that their old bar was actually an original 17th Century Japanese lacquer box. Originally known as the Mazarin Chest, the item had its own colorful history that survived through time.
Meanwhile, the engineer’s family couldn’t believe their luck, as it turns out the lost golden chest was worth $9.5 million. Not a bad for an old TV stand and bar, right?
5. A $3 bowl that is over 1,000-year-old
Another man had his life turned upside down when his family picked up a Chinese bowl at a garage sale for just $3.
By all intents and purposes, the bowl looked ordinary enough. It was 5 inches in diameter, and it looked battered from afar, thanks to its saw-tooth pattern. However, the unassuming white ceramic bowl was actually from the Northern Song Dynasty, dated from 960 to 1127.
Not to worry – the family happily parted with their antique bowl, after taking home their auction winnings of $2.2 million.
6. A mysterious vase that fetched millions
Lastly, there is the story of a brother and sister combo in Pinner, UK, who cleaned out their parents’ home who both recently passed on. They found an old vase – which they kept on top of a bookcase for a few months – while they dealt with the rest of their parents’ estate.
Afterwards, they took the old vase to a local auctioneer, who immediately valued it between £800,000 and £1.2m. At this price, the siblings were already ecstatic, but they didn’t expect the reaction from Chinese businessmen who pushed the auction to £53,105,000.
It turned out that the vase was an 18th-century Qianlong-dynasty piece, and it was sold for $85 million.
These are just some of the examples of people finding thousands, if not millions, out of their attics and “junks.” Some were able to fetch staggering amounts, but nevertheless, all of them took home a windfall. An old bowl, a discarded picture, even an old chest – the possibilities are endless. You just have to look at items closely enough.
So the next time you’re in the flea market, scour the documents section and the old paintings. Who knows? You might just find a lucky piece.
img c/o pixabay