Valuable Items That Slip Through the Cracks
When it’s time to liquidate a family estate what are the first things we think of as having value. The dinning room is our first thought for its silverware, crystal and that special dinner ware that you only saw on holidays. Then we hurry into the bedroom and locate the jewelry boxes. After that it’s the furniture, lamps and perhaps those favorite paintings, or pottery.
Traditionally the values have always been highest in these areas and often the other items are over looked. I’m talking about the stuff you find in the back of the chest of drawers, in the closets, on the tables, shelves and throughout the kitchen. Pocket knives, lighters, buttons, old postcards, kitchen gadgets, the old appliances, shop tools, linens, toys, books, record albums, medicine bottles, luggage, costume jewelry, clothing apparel, photo-albums, holiday decorations.
The list is unending because these items are not as important as the fine silver, china or the heirloom desk, but they were part of our everyday fabric of life. You might be surprised to find that all those miscellaneous items can have collectively quite a value.
Here are just a few examples of items that are often overlooked for value:
This is a nice vintage double blade pocket knife marked "IMPERIAL PROV. RI U.S.A." on the 2.2" long blade, with a crown above the mark, the other blades are 1.25" long.
The gold washed exterior of this vintage pen knife is elaborately engraved with fanciful scroll and floral work. The smaller of its two blades is marked "Keene New York M.I. Germany."
To see this to see this Imperial knifeon GoAntique.com, click here. To see this Keen knife, click here;
Some of the old collectible pocket knives were made by companies like Case, Keen, Buck and Kabar and should not be overlooked. These little knives may be stuck back in a drawer or in old storage box. These are just a few of the collectible makers of pocket knives, which can bring in a tidy little sum: a Keen knife with two blades, the longer of which at 3.5 inches, can bring $45.00; A vintage Buck #301 with three blades, $30; An old Case XX pocket knife with two blades (2.25″), $40.
Not too many people smoke anymore, but the cigarette lighters are very collectible; especially when they are from a well known company or famous designer. Everyone knows Playboy and its classic black-and-white “Bunny” design. The Ronson pocket-style Bunny lighter from the 1950’s is priced from $14 to $18. Ronson makes a slim, classic-style pocket lighter that many companies have used to promote their products, from Coca Cola to power tools. These lighters can sell for $5 to $25.
Zippo United Fruit Co SS Talamanca Ship Lighter. This lighter is in very good condition, with only minimal scratching. This item comes with it's original box, which is in good condition also. The box does have some wear, including very slight soiling and edge wear, and a tear in the paper.
A Vintage 1959 USS Independence (CVA 62) Town & Country Zippo Lighter. Zippo is Used with wear. Basically, common wear for a lightly used Zippo.
To see this Zippo/SS Talamanca lighter on GoAntique.com, click here; to see this USS Independence lighter, click here.
Zippo also made commercial lighters for advertisements and they, like the Ronson, have various collectible prices in today’s market. A simple but classic Zippo Army Lighter can sell for 32.50, and more if the lighter has military emblems or regimens on the outside design. We had at our not too long ago an original Zippo issued from the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. We sold it for $55 retail, and it went out so fast that it may have been worth a quite a bit more.
Silvertone music theme cufflink set with a G clef and musical notes motif.
This vintage cuff link and tie pin set is made by Swank with June birthstone.
To see these musical cuff links on GoAntique.com, click here; to see this Swank/June birthstone set, click here.
One of the other areas of value is in the old jewelry box, after you clean out the good stuff—the diamond rings, gold and silver watches and so forth. What is left is the costume jewelry, cuff links and tie tacks. Basic assortments of costume jewelry made of different metal, glass or plastics can go for $65 to $125, depending on the age and styles. Sometimes even higher amounts for special pieces with designer names like Eisenberg, Weiss, Hobe and Miriam Haskel, just to name a few. A nice 2′-inch brooch by Weiss with imitation pearls sells for $15 to $20. A collection of rhinestone jewelry by Weiss and Kramer can sell for $60 and higher. A nice Hobe brooch, $17.50. A rhinestone ring, signed Hobe, for 27.50. A Eisenberg Ice brooch for $52.50. A Swank sliver with blue stones, cufflinks and tie bar could be valued from $5 to $7.50. On average, the cuff link sets can sell for $2 to $10, depending on the style and age.
These are just a few of the things that slip through the cracks. In most houses, if we go into the kitchen or the garage, we would find a small fortune. We tend to keep the old coffee pots, gadgets and small appliances. There are rows of price guides in bookstores today to help place current values of just about everything ever made for the consumer markets, from decades and decades back. Before you haul all those boxes off to the trash, do a little research. You may find that you have enough value there to take that Caribbean cruise.
Robert Timmons is a general Worthologist.
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