3 Hot Vintage Valuables That Might Be Hiding in Your Home

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With 30 years of reselling under my belt, I’m the go-to guy when friends need a quick appraisal. And over the years I’ve noticed a recurring phenomenon: The vintage items most people consider valuable usually aren’t, and the things they want to toss are often hot collectibles.

Here’s why: Many of us get our idea of what’s valuable from our parents. But markets change, and new collectors have different tastes.

What disregarded treasures are hiding in your home right now? The answers might surprise you. In this series, we’ll explore hot collectibles you might already own.

1. Vintage RRL clothing

Logo for Ralph Lauren's sub-brand Double RL (aka RRL) on vintage jeans
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I’ve written about vintage Ralph Lauren clothing before, but one sub-brand deserves its own call-out. Double RL (sometimes written as RRL or Double RL Ranch) launched in 1993. It was high-end back then, but to me, still seemed accessible to urbanites who wanted to look decidedly un-urban (ahem … guilty).

Over the years, the retail price of RRL has crept northward, and resale values have followed. If you were a fashion-conscious Gen Xer, check the dark recesses of your closet or rummage through those Rubbermaid totes in the garage. Some vintage RRL pieces could cover next month’s mortgage payment (or at least property taxes).

On eBay, this RRL men’s graphic hoodie recently sold for $495, and this cotton and leather motorcycle jacket sold for $1,080. On Etsy, this Southwest-inspired women’s cardigan is listed for the discounted price of $698.

Pro-tip: The Double RL brand started out as a division of Polo — Polo Country, to be precise. Though that brand is now defunct, vintage clothing with the Polo Country label have a similar aesthetic to RRL and often sell for similar prices.

2. Wooden figures by Kay Bojesen

Wooden elephant toy nordic
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Several years ago, I found a small wooden bird figurine in my favorite local thrift store. Its minimalist design and flawless construction immediately caught my eye. Turns out, that little 60-cent bird was designed by Kay Bojesen of Denmark and was worth about $115.

Trained as silversmith in 1910, Bojesen gradually moved into woodworking, creating stylized figures and toys for children. Bojesen believed that good design should be tactile, playful and durable. Today, his designs are considered part of Denmark’s national iconography. Though Bojesen died in 1958, his original designs are now owned and produced by the Danish design collective, Rosendahl.

On eBay, this vintage Bojesen elephant recently sold for $140, and this toy soldier figure sold for $145 (even without his drumsticks!).

3. Old VCRs

old TV with VCR and VHS tapes
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Sometimes, obsolete technology is valuable technology. Like classic turntables and early Apple computers, vintage VCRs can be worth some serious cash.

It’s not just nostalgia (think home movies) driving this market. Imagine the countless quirky low-budget films and TV clips that never made the transition to digital. Buyers are hungry for equipment (and back-up equipment) that allows them to reexperience their cinematic interests.

In this category, some brands command higher prices that others. In my experience, Sony, JVC and Panasonic sell best. And if you’re lucky enough to still have the remote control (hint: check the sofa) add a 10%-20% premium to the asking price.

Recently on eBay, this Zenith VRE205 VCR sold for $150, and this JVC Super VHS ET model sold for $99.99. Resale prices are even more impressive for some Betamax machines (remember those?). On Etsy, this Sony SL-J7 machine is listed for $399.99.

Random fandom

Cluttered garage
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This article’s theme is an important one: There Is No Theme. In the world of resale and collecting, randomness wins. Everything from electronics to clothing can be worth surprising amounts of money. All it takes is an open mind, a little curiosity and a quick Google search.

So as you gear up for spring cleaning, consider this: Every potential cast-off could be a cash-cow. Interested in exploring the wonderful world of random finds? Check out my series on hidden treasures in the secondhand market.

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