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15 Old Things In Your House That Are Worth a Fortune

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Chances are, there's more money in our homes than we realize. There is a market for collectibles of any kind—even those dusty old toys and sickeningly retro Pyrex casserole dishes your grandmother used to warm up meatloaf in can bring in hundreds of dollars. But it's not so easy to distinguish trash from treasure. So to help you along, here are 15 old things in your house that could be worth a fortune.

1. DAVID BOWIE'S DIAMOND DOGS VINYL

Picture of David Bowie
NILS MEILVANG, AFP/Getty Images

For David Bowie's 1974 Diamond Dogs album on vinyl, its worth lies in the very strange story of the album artwork. The original image featured an illustration of Bowie with his bottom half replaced by a dog's—genitals and all. This made record label RCA nervous, so the image was altered before the record hit shelves. As you'd expect, some copies of the original got loose in the world, and in 2003, one sold for $3550. Who knows how many copies of the taboo album art made it off the printer before it was censored?

2. RETRO VIDEO GAMES

Person holding Super Nintendo controller
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There are plenty of ultra-rare and valuable Super Nintendo games that you simply won't see collecting dust in someone's basement—including the limited-run competition edition games and Japanese imports. But other titles like Super Mario RPG, Mega Man X3, Harvest Moon, and Chrono Trigger were big hits that are probably still in the closets of many casual consumers. X3 and Chrono Trigger, in particular, have been known to fetch $400 and close to $600 respectively.

There is a huge rare gaming market that isn't just limited to the SNES—every console has its fair share of pricey titles, from the Genesis to the PlayStation 4. One of the most infamous is Little Samson on the original Nintendo, which regularly ends up on places like eBay and can get bids over $1000. Though, with how rare the game is, it isn't as likely it's just lying around your basement.

3. ANYTHING POLLY POCKET

Polly Pocket toys
Herry Lawford, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Polly Pocket craze of the '90s gave birth to a line of inch-high toys that kids gobbled up. Now, as is the way of most things, they've found their way to eBay, where the line has been given a second life as a high-priced collector's item. Just one search will yield plenty of pricey results, such as a Peter Pan Polly Pocket set closing in on $300 and this collection of loose Polly Pocket houses for $250. These big-ticket items are from the pre-Mattel Polly Pocket days, so if you have a collection of the original Polly Pocket stuff, get organizing!

4. VINTAGE COMICS THAT INSPIRED TODAY'S MOVIES AND TV SHOWS

A stack of comic books
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Turn on the TV and what do you see? Superheroes on pretty much every channel (and in every theater). And if you own the early comic book adventures of these characters, you can be looking at a hefty profit. Right now, copies of the Black Panther series from the '70s—written and illustrated by co-creator Jack Kirby—are having a moment on eBay. The auction for the series' 15-issue run is already well over $150, and single issues are going for $50 alone.

The first comic book appearance of the villainous Killmonger, who also appears in the Black Panther movie, also shot up in worth and is now hovering around $100. That's nothing compared to Black Panther's own debut, which ranges from a few hundred to $1000 depending on the condition.

Prices go up when these characters are in the spotlight, so go through that old comic collection and do some research. If you have books starring a character that's about to become a movie star, get your eBay account ready. If they're vintage and in good condition, they could fetch a high price.

5. VINTAGE ADVERTISING SIGNS

Vintage Coca-Cola ad
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Before pop-up ads told us what to buy, a major way companies would advertise would be through tin signs hung up in bars, restaurants, and gas stations. And today, some of these signs can bring in a nice chunk of change, like this $225 eBay listing for Indian Motorcycles or this AAA Root Beer bottle sign that's sitting at over $300. Then there's the venerable Coke sign that is listed at over $600.

Beer signs are another surprising money-maker—vintage brands like Falstaff and Griesedieck often get bids in the $500 range, and older signs for common brands like Pabst and Old Milwaukee can go for four-figure amounts. Maybe a member of your family used to own or work at a bar and ended up with one of these signs that's just collected dust in a garage somewhere. Keep a look out—that aluminum soda sign could become your next car insurance payment.

6. BOY SCOUT MEMORABILIA

Boy Scout patches
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All those Boy Scout merit badges and medals you had growing up could net an unlikely sum of money today. Boy Scout memorabilia has been known to get plenty of interest online, with one auction of old paraphernalia going for $240. And one look on eBay shows plenty of listings, with many batches of patches and badges getting bids of over $100.

7. POKÉMON CARDS

Pokemon cards
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Remember all those Pokémon cards that you probably folded up, stuck in your pocket, or traded away to friends when you were younger? Well complete sets of the standard cards can go for hundreds of dollars on eBay. And single, ultra-rare cards can be well into the thousands—like the holograph Charizard that sold for $11,999. Of course they have to be graded and examined by experts to catch that price, but even a stack of the run-of-the-mill cards in mint condition can fetch a few bucks.

8. KANSAS QUARTERS

Kansas quarters
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When the "T" on a coin pressing machine got a smudge on it, a batch of Kansas state quarters had its motto accidentally altered from “In God We Trust” to the far more thought-provoking "In God We Rust." The error didn't last long, but the irregular coins made it out into the world and are now valued at around $100 each. So check those jars of coins you have sitting around; you might have a very valuable printing error on your hands.

9. CHINA SETS

Fine China
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Chances are someone in your family has a china set stacked in a cabinet, waiting for that fancy dinner party that never comes. If you're looking to offload it and make a little money, do your research. China can have a lot of value on sites like eBay and EBTH, and you want to make sure you maximize its worth. If you think it's a nice enough set, bring it to an antique dealer and see—at the very least, you can get a ballpark estimate of its value. Some go for hundreds, if not thousands, online.

10. THE ORIGINAL KENNER STAR WARS FIGURES

The Millennium Falcon toy
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When the original Star Wars movie hit theaters, there was one massive oversight: There were no toys ready for the premiere. No one thought the movie would become the sensation that it has, so Kenner had to rush to get a proper toy line out the year after the movie's release. But when those toys finally hit, it was seismic.

Star Wars toys flew off shelves, and they've become incredible collectors' items today, especially the ones from the '70s and '80s. A 1978 Luke Skywalker toy—the one with the double-telescoping lightsaber—sold at auction for $25,000. And that's not even close to all. There are vintage Boba Fetts going for around $2500 and obscure, pre-Hayden Christensen Anakin Skywalkers going for up to $3000.

Then, of course, there are the vehicles and spaceships, like the original Millennium Falcon, which can net $3000 if it's still in the box. Countless kids had these toys somewhere in the '70s and '80s, and there's a chance you've got a few in your family.

11. VINTAGE LUNCHBOXES

Snoopy lunch box
Caren Pilgrim, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Lunchboxes have made their way to becoming one of the most cherished collectors' items around. Cartoon characters, superheroes, and rock groups have all been slapped on the side of a tin box for kids to put their PB&J sandwiches in. And now they can be worth well over $100.

This Bonanza lunchbox sold for $130, while The Beatles, even in poor condition, could command around $400. That's just the start. The Munsters, Superman, Lost in Space—they're all going for well over $100, and in some cases will end up over $200. Then there are the surprises like The Wild, Wild West getting bids for $225, while Disney's Davy Crockett is nearing $230. If you have one that you feel can be valuable, do a little research and see what similar ones are going for online.

12. PYREX

A stack of Pyrex bowls
Jessica Fiess-Hill, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Don't waste your time wondering why, just know this: People love vintage Pyrex. Need proof? There’s a butter dish going for $225 on eBay. There are other listings, too. Bowl sets are going for more than $300 and a chip and dip set is closing in on $100. Turns out there could be a little green in grandma's old casserole dish.

13. AMERICAN GIRL DOLLS

Girl holding American Girl doll
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Those original American Girl dolls from 1986 are a popular collector's item now, with Samantha selling as high as $4200 on eBay. Of course that included her outfits and accessories, but other dolls have been known to go for more than $2800. Even dolls out of their original packaging can get a listing for hundreds of dollars, which is a nice little profit from their original price.

14. OLD TYPEWRITERS

Picture of an orange typewriter
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That old, forgotten typewriter in your garage might be worthless to you, but for those who like the soothing clickety-clack of the keys, it could hold real value. On eBay, some typewriters in good condition are going for nearly $200, with this unique orange one getting bids for more than $250. Some of the older antique models can go even higher, with current bids coming in at anywhere from $475 to $560.

The world of typewriters is complex, with so many different manufacturers and models hitting the market in the 20th century. Remember, though, people won't spend big on something like a typewriter simply because it's old. See if it's in good shape and test it out—if it's fashionable and functional, you might get some real interest in it.

15. VINTAGE HE-MAN, G.I. JOE, AND TRANSFORMERS TOYS

Picture of a He-Man toy
Semihundido, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

He-Man, Transformer, and G.I. Joe toys were the "Big Three" for many kids growing up in the '80s, and today, these figures can fetch a fair price even if they've been removed from the box. Just a short trip through eBay will show countless loose toys going for a good amount of money.

This He-Man, complete with accessories, doesn't need a box to get a listing for over $50. Add Skeletor and a couple of comics to the mix and you're suddenly close to $250. And you’re looking at around $100 for a mail-in Cobra Commander action figure.

With action figures, boxes are always better, as listings for more than $200 for Transformers Jetfire and a $300+ Optimus Prime show. And if you have a vehicle in a box, even better. This Dreadnok Thunder Machine from G.I. Joe is currently at $495. But if you want to talk about "Holy Grails," then you have to mention the Masters of the Universe Eternia playset, which is rare enough to exist on eBay in the box for $9999. Even parts of the playset get bids of over $100. You might want to double-check your old toy collection for that one—a few misplaced parts could be another collector's treasure.

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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The Star Trek Theme Song Has Lyrics
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Star Trek theme song is familiar to pretty much anyone who lived in the free world (and probably elsewhere, too) in the late 20th century. The tune is played during the show's opening credits; a slightly longer version is played, accompanied by stills from various episodes, during the closing credits. The opening song is preceded by William Shatner (as Captain Kirk) doing his now-legendary monologue recitation, which begins: "Space, the final frontier ..."

The show's familiar melody was written by respected film and TV composer Alexander Courage, who said the Star Trek theme's main inspiration was the Richard Whiting song "Beyond the Blue Horizon." In Courage's contract it was stipulated that, as the composer, he would receive royalties every time the show was aired and the theme song played. If, somehow, Star Trek made it into syndication—which, of course, it ultimately did—Courage stood to make a lot of money. And so did the person who wrote the lyrics.

WAIT... THERE WERE LYRICS?

Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote lyrics to the theme song.

"Beyond the rim of the star-light,
my love is wand'ring in star-flight!"

Why would Roddenberry even bother?

The lyrics were never even meant to be heard on the show, but not because the network (NBC) nixed them. Roddenberry nixed them himself. Roddenberry wanted a piece of the composing profits, so he wrote the hokey lyrics solely to receive a "co-writer" credit.

"I know he'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love, strange love a star woman teaches."

As one of the composers, Roddenberry received 50 percent of the royalties ... cutting Alexander Courage's share in half. Not surprisingly, Courage was furious about the deal. Though it was legal, he admitted, it was unethical because Roddenberry had contributed nothing to why the music was successful.

Roddenberry was unapologetic. According to Snopes, he once declared, "I have to get some money somewhere. I'm sure not gonna get it out of the profits of Star Trek."

In 1969, after Star Trek officially got the ax, no one (Courage and Roddenberry included) could possibly have imagined the show's great popularity and staying power.

Courage, who only worked on two shows in Star Trek's opening season because he was busy working on the 1967 Dr. Doolittle movie, vowed he would never return to Star Trek.

He never did.

THE WORDS

If you're looking for an offbeat karaoke number, here are Roddenberry's lyrics, as provided by Snopes:

Beyond
The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand'ring in star-flight
I know
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love,
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

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