You could be sitting under a gold mine – the average loft has £584 worth of valuables tucked away, according to risk experts Zurich insurance. Barbie, Action Man and Fisher Price toys are among popular loft inhabitants that could be valuable.
“A 1958 vintage Barbie doll in perfect condition in its box could be worth £2,000,” says Leigh Gotch, head of toys at Bonhams auctioneers. “Also toys from the not-too-distant past are rising in value including early hand-held electronic games and fads such as Cabbage Patch.” Film and TV tie-ins can have a serious price tag too. “A Star Wars 1978 Telescoping Lightsaber Darth Vadar recently sold for £4,000 and a Dr Who 1965 wind-up boxed Dalek went for £600.”
It’s not just toys that are stashed in our homes. Other favourites include pop memorabilia, antique glass, ceramics, advertising merchandise, out-of-date coins, and commemorative royal souvenirs.
Did you know?
A hard-up US couple clearing their home ready for the bank’s repossession hit the jackpot when they found a 1938 Superman comic book in their attic that later sold for $1.5m (£990,000)
Collecting through the decades
Do you have any of these stashed in your attic? We list popular collectables from the Fifties to the Nineties that are worth dusting down... and those that aren’t.
- Midwinter ceramics, advertising posters & signs, Conway Stewart pens
- Costume jewellery was mass-produced in the Fifties by companies such as Trifari and is widely collected today. Prices range from a few pounds for earrings bought in Woolies to £500-plus for a brooch from a department store.
- Portmeirion pottery, Whitefriars glass, James Bond film memorabilia
- A specific signed Beatles group photograph, acquired after a concert at the Glasgow Odeon in December 1965, is valued at £3,000-£5,000. Provenance affects the value of pop memorabilia – how were signatures obtained, and did the owner see the band signing their autographs?
- Troika pottery, Star Wars toys, Stuaart Devlin metalware
- Briglin sunflower cylinder vases are valued at £30-£50. The Briglin Pottery was founded in London in 1948 and produced affordable, decorative coloured pots. They were stocked by fashionable retailers Heal’s and Peter Jones. Due to changing tastes, the pottery closed in 1990. However, Briglin may become fashionable again.
- Memphis furniture, Swatch watches, Swid Powell tableware
- A Sir Nathaniel piggy money bank, produced 1983-1988,is valued at £50-£60. Natwest bank offered piggy banks at this time as an incentive for children to save. Baby Woody was given when a child opened an account, and Sir Nathaniel when the balance reached £100.
- Sally Tuffin for Moorcroft & Dennis Chinaworks, mobile phones, Apple products
- A pre-read first edition and first impression Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is valued at £1,500-£2,000. In mint condition it could fetch 20 times that amount! J K Rowling’s Harry Potter titles are among the most popular and sought-after first editions on today’s market. According to publisher Bloomsbury, only 500 copies of the first print run of the first edition were produced.
“Stick to one collecting area and research it well”
Jacqui Moore, 52, from Bedfordshire has a bath full of Subbuteo!
“I spend weekends scouring toy fairs, auctions, and online for collectables. It started out as a hobby collecting film and TV memorabilia but I realised if I put some time into researching the market, I could make extra cash. Collectors want items in good condition, pristine packaging, and with variations. Someone recently paid £20 for a Scalextric and sold it for £2,000! My tip is to stick to one collecting area and to research it well.”
What to collect today
"As a general rule, look for small limited editions, good quality, and objects likely to evoke nostalgia later. Keep them in good condition in original boxes with the paperwork. Buy things you like, just in case it doesn’t become tomorrow’s treasure,” says Judith Miller of Miller’s Antiques. Name valuable items individually on home insurance.