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.

The 15 Best TV Series Finales of All Time

Ursula Coyote, AMC
Ursula Coyote, AMC

What makes a great TV series finale? It depends on the show, of course. But no matter what series you may be watching, you want a finale that ties up loose ends without being annoyingly completist, gives you heart without seeming overly sentimental, and of course makes you feel just as happy, sad, thrilled, or compelled as you did with each previous episode. It’s a very tricky needle to thread, and some series have undoubtedly done it better than others.

In celebration of what it takes to deliver a great final episode, here are (some of) the greatest series finales of all time.

1. The Sopranos // “Made In America”

“Made In America” is, infamously, the episode of television that made millions of viewers briefly think that their cable had just gone out at some crucial moment, when in reality what happened was creator David Chase simply decided one seemingly random moment was the exact second where Tony Soprano’s journey would end. The series finale of The Sopranos spent the better part of its runtime wrapping up a mob war that crippled the family, and then devoted its final minutes to a family dinner set to Journey. Fans still debate the meaning and merits of the final scene, but the sense of palpable unease Chase built up in those last moments—signifying Tony’s perpetual state of watching his back—were a brilliant way to end a show that began as a meditation on existential dread in the first place.

2. Six Feet Under // “Everyone’s Waiting”

The final minutes of “Everyone’s Waiting” are among the most famous in the history of television, and even if the rest of the episode had been a disappointment, they would still rank among the greatest farewells in the medium. As it is, Six Feet Under's final episode with the Fisher family is a gripping, heartfelt, and bitterly funny gem, all building to that last montage. As Sia’s "Breathe Me" plays, we see the deaths of every member of the main cast, which reminds us that death takes many forms beyond mere tragedy, all culminating in the last breaths of Claire. Just thinking about it is enough to make fans of the show burst into tears.

3. Breaking Bad // “Felina”

Few series finales have ever faced such high expectations and managed to rise to meet them so powerfully as Breaking Bad did with its final episode in 2013. “Felina” has everything you could ever want from a Breaking Bad send-off: Walt’s final conversation with Skyler, that incredible revenge shoot-out featuring the rigged machine gun, Jesse’s defiant cry of freedom as he drives away, Walt’s collapse, and that little smile of victory on his face. Some series finales deliver what you want; others deliver what you need. “Felina” somehow manages to do both.

4. M*A*S*H // “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”

M*A*S*H was on longer than the Korean War was actually fought, and was more than 250 episodes into its run by the time “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” aired and became one of the most-watched television events in the history of the medium. You’d think the staff of the 4077th might have run out of things to say after such a run, but the series finale manages to be absolutely jam-packed, featuring everything from Hawkeye’s dark repressed memories to Klinger’s wedding. It all builds to that final shot of “GOODBYE” written in stones, which still ranks as one of the most iconic moments in TV history.

5. The Americans // “START”

The Americans quietly became one of the best shows on TV before finally winning a bunch of awards for its final season, and with good reason. The final adventures of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings as they contemplated a return to Russia and an end to their double lives in America were among the best the series ever delivered, all building to a final episode that stuck the landing in every possible way, from the thrills of their final escape to the emotional payoff of their daughter Paige’s big decision.

6. The Wire // "-30-"

The Wire was never going to end anything in a clean, cut-and-dried way, but its series finale did mange to wield the various talents at play in the series to end everything on an ambitious and fairly comprehensive note. The finale reckoned with many of the same questions the entire series did—from the nature of justice to the fragility of power systems and how far people will go to keep them in place—as it worked to resolve the homeless serial killer hoax, illegal wiretapping, and the all-important future of Tommy Carcetti. One last montage reminds us that life goes on in Baltimore, whether the show’s characters have reshaped it for the better or not.

7. Seinfeld // “The Finale”

The series finale of Seinfeld is also among the most divisive in the history of television, and it all begins with an amusing swerve. The show leads off by making us think Jerry and George are about to embark on a typical sitcom sendoff, bidding New York City farewell as they head to California to make a television series, but then the real plot kicks in as the show’s quartet of main characters is arrested for literally doing nothing as a man is carjacked.

The brilliance of the show’s protagonists getting in trouble for the very same thing they’d been doing for nine seasons in a “show about nothing” then pivots to a trial that does play by the sitcom rule of allowing old fan-favorite characters to come back as witnesses, then launches into a wrap-up that mocks the characters, the show’s fans, and the show’s own place of seeming importance in the pop culture landscape. Sitcom finales are usually more like curtain calls; "The Finale" was a provocative final joke.

8. Battlestar Galactica // “Daybreak Parts 1-3”

The finale of Battlestar Galactica might be a little too metaphysical in nature for some viewers, but there’s something about the sense of totality running through it that makes it a perfect sendoff for a series that always placed everything on the line with every single story it told. As the surviving humans of the fleet finally defeat their Cylon enemies, Starbuck sends them to a new home, and they agree to abandon all of their old technology and live among the primitive humans already present on what turns out to be our Earth. It’s a beautiful blending of victory, bittersweet goodbyes, seismic changes to everyone’s lives, angels, the future, and—believe it or not—“All Along the Watchtower.”

9. Star Trek: The Next Generation // “All Good Things…”

“Encounter at Farpoint,” the series premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is a famously slow, bloated affair that was a sign of things to come for the relatively weak first season. “All Good Things…” brilliantly repurposes that story as a time travel saga in which Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) learns that Q, the alien being who put humanity on trial back in the premiere, is continuing his test of the human race by placing Picard in three different eras of his life. It’s a brilliant conceit that makes an elegant circle out of the series while also allowing Picard to give viewers a grand tour of the series’ entire history, including his own future.

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer // “Chosen”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer spent weeks setting up its series finale, laying out a last stand that would either end Buffy and her gang of allies forever or wipe Sunnydale off the face of the Earth—or both. The final battle itself has since been dwarfed by more epic series like Game of Thrones, but what makes “Chosen” so magical isn’t its fight scenes, but its heart. With her own army of potential Slayers at her back, Buffy asks Willow to perform a spell that will give them all the powers of a Slayer, leading to one of the most empowering montages in the history of television. Then, even while mourning absent friends, Buffy is able to look toward tomorrow.

11. Newhart // “The Last Newhart”

So many sitcom series finales are all about final goodbyes. Very often characters leave their longtime TV homes for somewhere new, leading to tearful farewells or at least a final moment for everyone to spend one last day together. Newhart absolutely blew that premise up with a twisty, joke-filled finale that includes the entire town being turned into a resort, a five-year time jump, and that brilliant final scene which reveals all of Newhart to have been the dream of Dr. Bob Hartley, Newhart’s character from The Bob Newhart Show. The level of ambition is admirable. That the ambition translated to genuine laughs is wonderful.

12. Twin Peaks: The Return // “Part 17 and Part 18”

Twin Peaks famously ended its early ’90s run with a cliffhanger, which then led to the joyous reception that accompanied The Return, an 18-hour monument to creative freedom which everyone hoped would finally provide some answers. In true David Lynch fashion, though, the answers we got were often difficult to parse. And by the time it was all over, we were left with even more questions. The final two hours of The Return are among the most mind-meltingly intense episodes of television ever devised, all building to a daring and stunning final scene that still has fans talking.

13. The West Wing // “Tomorrow”

The West Wing played the long game with its series finale thanks to a year-long election storyline, which meant that its final episode was always going to be the combination of both an end and a beginning. The intense election story—which included a live debate episode—culminated in the inauguration of a new president, and a farewell to Martin Sheen’s President Josiah Bartlet, but the sense of transition inherent in the plot managed to imbue the series with a new sense of potential energy as it made the turn toward home. Watching “Tomorrow,” you can’t help but fantasize about what it will be like for Josh Lyman and Sam Seaborn to be together in the White House again, changing the world in all new ways. That emotional weight meant that, after seven years, we actually all felt like we could use a little more of The West Wing.

14. Halt and Catch Fire // “Ten of Swords”

Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe in Halt and Catch Fire
Bob Mahoney, AMC

Halt and Catch Fire never got the audience it deserved when it was airing, which means many people likely don’t know just how brilliant and daring the show got in its final seasons, which included a time jump, a shocking death, and the dawn of the internet age. “Ten of Swords” is all about closing old chapters and starting new ones, and sends the show’s trinity of remaining major characters in promising new directions, even as they all come to terms with the fact that they can never again recapture what they once had.

15. 30 Rock // “Last Lunch”

30 Rock was one of the most acclaimed comedies of its era in part because of its outright refusal to ever be straightforward about anything. Every plot was jokes on top of jokes and references on top of references, creating a show that rewards viewers who can’t get enough of rapid fire wit (and deserves rewatching). “Last Lunch” continued that tradition while also managing to inject some genuine emotion into the affair, as Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) reconcile their friendship in a half hour packed with so many gags and callbacks you could watch it half a dozen times and still not catch everything.

10 Surprising Facts About J.R.R. Tolkien

Phil Romans via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Phil Romans via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are plenty of things even the most ardent fans don't know about The Lord of the Rings author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. In honor of Tolkien Reading Day (March 25th), here are 10 of them.

1. Tolkien had a flair for the dramatic.

As a linguist and expert on Old English and Old Norse literature, Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University from 1925 until 1959. He was also a tireless instructor, teaching between 70 and 136 lectures a year (his contract only called for 36). But the best part is the way he taught those classes. Although quiet and unassuming in public, Tolkien wasn't the typical stodgy, reserved stereotype of an Oxford don in the classroom. He went to parties dressed as a polar bear, chased a neighbor dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior, and was known to hand shopkeepers his false teeth as payment. As one of his students put it, "He could turn a lecture room into a mead hall."

2. Tolkien felt many of his fans were "lunatics."

Tolkien saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were largely Tolkien's attempt to construct a body of myth, and their success caught him largely unaware. In fact, he spent years rejecting, criticizing, and shredding adaptations of his work that he didn't believe captured its epic scope and noble purpose. He was also utterly skeptical of most LOTR fans, who he believed were incapable of really appreciating the work, and he probably would have been horrified by movie fandom dressing up like Legolas.

3. Tolkien loved his day job.

To Tolkien, writing fantasy fiction was simply a hobby. The works he considered most important were his scholarly works, which included Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, a modern translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and A Middle English Vocabulary.

4. He was quite romantic.

At age 16, Tolkien fell in love with Edith Bratt, three years his senior. His guardian, a Catholic priest, was horrified that his ward was seeing a Protestant and ordered the boy to have no contact with Edith until he turned 21. Tolkien obeyed, pining after Edith for years until that fateful birthday, when he met with her under a railroad viaduct. She broke off her engagement to another man, converted to Catholicism, and the two were married for the rest of their lives. At Tolkien's instructions, their shared gravestone has the names "Beren" and "Luthien" engraved on it, a reference to a famous pair of star-crossed lovers from the fictional world he created.

5. Tolkien's relationship with C.S. Lewis was complicated.

Tolkien's fellow Oxford don C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) is often identified as his best friend and closest confidant. But the truth is, the pair had a much more troubled relationship. At first, the two authors were very close. In fact, Tolkien's wife Edith was reportedly jealous of their friendship. And it was Tolkien who convinced Lewis to return to Christianity. But their relationship cooled over what Tolkien perceived as Lewis's anti-Catholic leanings and scandalous personal life (he had been romancing an American divorcee at the time). Although they would never be as close as they were before, Tolkien regretted the separation. After Lewis died, Tolkien wrote in a letter to his daughter that, “So far I have felt ... like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe-blow near the roots.”

6. Tolkien enjoyed clubbing.

Well, the extra-curricular, after-school sort. Wherever Tolkien went, he was intimately involved in the formation of literary and scholarly clubs. As a professor at Leeds University, for example, he formed the Viking Club. And during his stint at Oxford, he formed the Inklings, a literary discussion group.

7. He wasn't blowing smoke about those war scenes.

Tolkien was a veteran of the First World War, and served as a second lieutenant in the 11th (Service) Battalion of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was also present for some of the most bloody trench fighting of the war, including the Battle of the Somme. The deprivations of Frodo and Sam on their road to Mordor may have had their origins in Tolkien's time in the trenches, during which he contracted a chronic fever from the lice that infested him and was forced to return home. He would later say that all but one of his close friends died in the war, giving him a keen awareness of its tragedy that shines through in his writing.

8. Tolkien invented languages for fun.

A philologist by trade, Tolkien kept his mind exercised by inventing new languages, many of which (like the Elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin) he used extensively in his writing. He even wrote songs and poems in his fictional languages. In addition, Tolkien worked to reconstruct and write in extinct languages like Medieval Welsh and Lombardic. His poem "BagmÄ“ BlomÄ" ("Flower of the Trees") might be the first original work written in the Gothic language in over a millennium.

9. Tolkien been published almost as prolifically posthumously as he was when he was alive.

Most authors have to be content with the works they produce during their lifetime, but not Tolkien. His scribblings and random notes, along with manuscripts he never bothered to publish, have been edited, revised, compiled, redacted, and published in dozens of volumes after his death, most of them produced by his son Christopher. While Tolkien's most famous posthumous publication is The Silmarillion, other works include The History of Middle Earth, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

10. Tolkien called Hitler a "ruddy little ignoramus."

Tolkien's academic writings on Old Norse and Germanic history, language, and culture were extremely popular among the Nazi elite, who were obsessed with recreating ancient Germanic civilization. But Tolkien was disgusted by Hitler and the Nazi party, and made no secret of the fact. He considered forbidding a German translation of The Hobbit after the German publisher, in accordance with Nazi law, asked him to certify that he was an "Aryan." Instead, he wrote a scathing letter asserting, among other things, his regret that he had no Jewish ancestors. His feelings are also evidenced in a letter he wrote to his son: "I have in this War a burning private grudge—which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler ... Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light."

This piece originally ran in 2017.

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