Retirement Income

5 everyday items that could be worth a fortune

5 everyday items that could be worth a fortune


Germer says his nephew calls these “antique mechanical keyboards”. He adds that anything with gears, push buttons, and tubes are especially fascinating to the younger generation who have grown up in a wireless world. “Old typewriters need to be in working condition and will sell for $US20 to $US100; fully restored, in the low hundreds,” says Germer.

Auto parts

You might want to check under the tarps or in the back of your garage – there could be some dusty gems. “Hood ornaments, car vases, and hubcaps are the most collected for themselves because of decorative value. Headlamps and other body parts are often repurposed for the industrial design look,” notes Germer. A hood ornament in decent condition, for example, can draw $US20, but if you discover a rare one, it could collect a tidy sum of up to $US2,500.


Maybe not the one you stepped on in the middle of the night, but specific LEGOs are worth their weight in gold. For example, the 2010 mini-figure Jessie from Toy Story 2 in like-new condition is selling for around $US10 on Bricklink.com. A LEGO Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Hogwarts Castle Set recently sold for $US450. However, some of the most coveted LEGOs are the missing parts from valued sets – like a window, steering wheel, or rare colour brick – and can bring up to hundreds. Check out these ultimate LEGO tables you’ve got to see.


Magazines, newspapers, programs and the like are in a category called “ephemera,” Jacquie Denny, cofounder of EBTH says. That’s collector lingo for any printed matter that wasn’t made to last. “The value of items in this category is related to rarity, condition, and the number of issues,” notes Denny. Surprisingly enough, they don’t have to be ancient. A special edition Life magazine from 1969 featuring the Woodstock musical festival sold for $US113 on EBTH. Dreaming about your ultimate holiday? Find out how to pay for it with this great advice.

Not-so-old cookbooks

You don’t have to have an out-of-print Julia Child cookbook to earn some extra bread. Betty Crocker cookbooks that were mass-produced and widely used can be worth $US10 to $US500, depending on their condition (ideally, not too many fingerprint stains on the pages). But signed cookbooks by a famous chef can sell like hotcakes. “Cookbooks published by a celebrity chef will generally perform better if signed and sold while their market is current. If they’re sold after the chef has lost popularity, the value will be greatly diminished,” Denny says.

Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.