hidden treasures

This post has been updated, see the latest version here: Unearth hidden treasures: valuable children’s first edition books worth a fortune

Is your attic full to the brim with old belongings that haven’t seen the light of day for years – or even decades? If so, you’re not alone, as research has revealed that Brits have a staggering £48 billion worth of unused household items gathering dust in their attics.

We’re a nation of hoarders, afraid to let go of belongings that once meant a lot to us or have been passed down from loved ones. Beyond the sentimental value, however, so many of us are unaware of the potential monetary value of these everyday items – which often end up getting thrown to the back of a cupboard to gather dust.

But would you believe us if we said that these hidden treasures could have risen in value over the years at a rate greater than traditional investments like gold or even property? That’s right, you could be sitting on a small fortune and not even know it.

With insight from antiques expert David Harper, we’ve highlighted a selection of everyday items that have leapt up in value over the years. Some have even gained status as prized collector’s items.

Do you have any of these things tucked under your bed? After reading this, you’ll be desperate to check.

Designer handbags

A designer handbag is the ultimate treat for the fashion conscious, but not everyone is aware that it could also be an incredible financial investment. In fact, some of the most sought-after designs could rake in thousands of pounds more than their original retail price if they were to go to auction or be sold on a resale site. With their steady increase in value exceeding the rise in value of both gold and property, however, it may be worth holding on to them for a little while yet.

Most significantly, Hermes’ iconic Birkin bag has proven itself to be a real gold-mine, by demonstrating a huge 275% increase in value between 2004 and 2018 – equating to an impressive £8,473 price jump. This is closely rivalled by the Chanel 2.55 Medium Flap Bag which has seen a rise of 250% – up from £1,155 to £4,043.

Interestingly, all of the bags on the list below, with exception of the two Hermes models, saw a plateau in value between 2016 and 2018. In contrast to the other brands, the two featured Hermes bags saw an increase of over 15% across those two years.

This could be indicative of the timeless exclusivity and status that comes with owning a Hermes bag. Since the 1980s, the luxury pieces of craftmanship have become valuable collector’s items and the waiting list for a brand-new Hermes Birkin bag can sometimes be as long as six years. Historically, Hermes bags have only ever seen positive fluctuations in value, so if you manage to get your hands on one, treat it with care.

Harper recommends to, “Keep all of the packaging, boxes, ribbons, etc. that come with the bag, and if you have bought it purely as an investment and not for personal use, keep all the tags and protective stickers in place. It’s also worth retaining the purchase receipt, which provides proof of the retail price and date of purchase.

Often, even top brand handbags will drop in value quickly, due to the season, model and fashion changes, so be careful not to sell too soon when the bag is off trend. Old handbags soon become ‘retro chic’ once that particular model has been out of production for a few years and will begin to increase in value again with a new generation of buyers.”

“There is also a trend to have handbags personalised,” adds Harper. “I, as an artist have painted many bags (Louise Vuitton and Prada, in particular) with funky panels — mainly for those in the music business. These, undoubtedly, will be sought after on the second-hand market, so anything that makes a bag unique and rare will be a value adding feature.

General wear and tear is acceptable, but this will always devalue any top brand product. This is one reason why collectors will often have dozens of bags, to make sure that no one bag is over used and worn.”

Below we have listed ten designer bags that have risen in value significantly over the last 14 years.

BagValue in 2004Estimated value of bag in 2019 Estimated % rise in value of bag 2004-2019% Rise in value of gold from 2004-2019% Rise in value of property from 2004-2019
Hermes Cognac Ostrich Leather 40cm Birkin£3,081£13,818294.6%137%57.92%
Chanel 2.55 Me-dium Classic Flap Bag£1,155£4,767267.9%137%57.92%
Emilio Pucci 1970s Black Leather & Velvet Pucci handbag£154£477187.5%137%57.92%
Christian Dior Lady Dior Can-nage£1,155£3,448178.9%137%57.92%
Coach 1960s Leather Sling Bag£77£214160.7%137%57.92%
Hermes Kelly Black Sellier Box Calf 32cm£1,926£5,578171.4%137%57.92%
Fendi 1990s Khaki Lizard and Beaver Fur Bag£308£852160.7%137%57.92%
Lucille of Paris Vintage Alligator circa 1960£308£804147.8%137%57.92%
Wilardy Pearles-cent Lucite Circu-lar circa 1960£154£378133.9%137%57.92%
Balenciaga Leather Classic City£539£106292.1%137%57.92%

Branded trainers

Kickstarting in America in the late 80s, the ‘sneakerhead’ culture has grown from a niche community into a thriving main-stream market. Long gone are the days when trainers were reserved for active wear – today they attract fashionistas and streetwear fans wanting to enhance their wardrobe with the freshest new kicks, as well as avid footwear collectors and resellers.

If you fall under any of these categories, it’s possible that some of your favourite footwear could have a pretty lucrative resale value. And the good news is, to appreciate in value the shoes don’t need to be brand new in the box. On the basis that they’re clean and in a good condition, a pair of worn trainers can still fetch hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Nike is a name that dominates the trainer resale market, taking the top three spots on our list, with the highly collectible Nike SB Dunk range. In fact, the top three shoes demonstrated a value increase up to 40 times the value increase of gold, and 100 times that of property.

Limited editions and celebrity collaborations are particularly popular due to the rarity versus demand. The Air Jordan and Eminem collaboration, for example, can rake in 2,993% its original retail price of £84, while the Adidas’ NERD edition can sell for over £3,000. Furthermore, the Kobe 1 Protro Undefeated Flight Jacket saw a jump in value as soon as it left the shop thanks to there only being ten pairs in existence.

“If you’re serious about investing in trainers, then develop a relationship with a retailer,” advises Harper. “Get to know when the limited editions will be released and put your name down on the list of the first customers who will be offered them. There are lots of chat rooms and sites online where fellow trainer fans meet to discuss and buy and sell their trainers. This is where you’ll find the most up to date information on new trends, new models and vintage trainers that are about to fly upwards in value.”

He adds, “It’s a remarkable market, and one that no one would have predicted would be of interest to collectors 20 years ago. This being the case, the market will eventually become saturated in later years, as everyone who buys trainers will keep them as future investments.

This means there will be an ever-increasing supply and prices are not likely to increase as much as they have in recent years. So, it’s probably a good time to sell!”

See the list below to find out which designer trainers have gone up in value the most.

Brand and styleOriginal retail priceValue in 2019% Change in value of trainers from release – 2019Change in value of gold from year of trainer release to 2019 Change in value of property from year of trainer release – 2018
Nike SB Dunk Low Reese Forbes Denim (2002)£49£3,297.70+ 6630%+ 233.1%+132.6%
Nike SB Dunk Low Tokyo (2004)£46£2,469.25+ 5267%+ 137%+ 57.6%
Nike SB Dunk Low Staple “NYC Pi-geon” (2005)£152£6,711.99+ 4315%+ 138%+ 42.9%
Nike Dunk SB Low Medicom 2 (2004)£49£1,591.70+ 3148%+ 137%+ 57.6%
Jordan 2 Retro Eminem (The Way I Am) (2008)£84£2,609.62+ 3787%+25.7%+19.3%
Kobe 1 Protro Un-defeated Flight Jacket (2018)£137£3,431.17+ 2404%+6.7%-1.78%
Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October (2014)£190£4,337.87+ 1265%-1%+24%
Jordan 4 Retro Quai 54 (2012)£122£2,493.03+ 1943%-31.2%+36.6%
Adidas NMD HU Pharrell Y.O.U. N.E.R.D. (2017)£182£3,375.94+ 1754%+6.1%+6%
Air Yeezy 2 Solar Red (2012)£190£3,069.87+ 1515%-31.2%+36.6%
First edition children’s books

Upon stumbling across your old collection of children’s books in the attic, it’s likely that you’ll be flooded with fond memories of childhood or parenthood. The sentimental value and nostalgic offering of these books is something to be expected. What you might not be aware of, however, is that these classic pieces of literature that have brought such joy to many, could be valuable collectors’ items.

Loved by multiple generations, first edition copies of classic children’s titles such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Velveteen Rabbit can fetch between £5,000 and £10,000 at auction. Furthermore, the first edition of The Gruffalo saw an incredible 200% increase in value between 2004 and 2016 – that’s significantly more than the value increase of gold and property over the same period.

It’s worth noting that the condition and completeness of the book is paramount, as any damage or missing pages can decrease value significantly. Most 20th century books also need to have their original dust-jacket to be of collectable value.

“This is the area of collecting most likely to be overlooked, when clearing out a store room,” remarks Harper. “A children’s book worth hundreds or thousands of pounds, may have an old price ticket inside the cover of just a couple of pounds. It could be that it’s a bit thumbed and looks valueless, so it’s likely to be thrown away or given to a local charity, only later to be discovered by an eagle-eyed collector.

They will go straight to the edition date on the inside cover, spot it is a first edition and make themselves a packet. For this reason, before giving away old books, methodically inspect each book for its edition, date, and then put the title into an internet search.”

Check out the table to discover some of the classic children’s books that have gone up in value the most in recent years.

Title of bookValue in 2004Estimated value in 2019Estimated % rise in value of books from 2004-2019% rise in value of gold 2004-2019% rise in value of property from 2004-2019
The Gruffalo (1999)£39£161.82282%137%57.92%
Where the Wild Things Are (1963)£1546.73£5,090.92200.3%137%57.92%
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)£3866.82£12,085.16186.3%137%57.92%
The Velveteen Rabbit (1922)£2320.09£6,971.90176.2%137%57.92%
The Giving Tree (1964)£1160.05£3,491.39133.3%137%57.92%
Histoire de Babar (1931)£193.34£538.84157.6%137%57.92%
The Polar Express (1985)£193.34£475.97129.6%137%57.92%
The Little Engine that Could (1930)£773.37£127.94129.8%137%57.92%
The Cat in the Hat (1957)£386.68£831.82102.6%137%57.92%
The Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968)£309.35£641.1595.9%137%57.92%

Rare watches

“Some old watch models suddenly come back into fashion, so a classic timepiece inherited from a family member that was worth very little 20 years ago is worth checking out now to see if it’s a sought-after model,” encourages Harper. “A lot of collectors buy new watches as investments. They need to know which models are likely to rise in value, so an interest and knowledge is required.

Once they have this information, however, building a relationship with a retailer is of utmost importance — not only to get onto the waiting list but to hopefully jump it.”

Elaborating further, he reveals “companies like Rolex frown upon people who wait a year for a watch and then resell it immediately for a profit. If they discover you’ve done this, they’re unlikely to sell you another new watch anytime soon.

To combat resale, top-end retailers will remove all protective stickers and labels before you’re allowed to leave the showroom with your new watch. So, building a collection of watches as an investment is a longer-term project.”

Below, you can find ten popular collectable watches that have risen in value the most.

WatchValue in 2004Estimated value of watch in 2019Estimated % rise in value of books from 2004-2019% rise in value of gold 2004-2019% rise in value of property from 2004-2019
Panerai Radiomir Ref. 3646£25,000£150,254514.67%137%57.92%
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso£15,000£59,227305.11%137%57.92%
Tag Heuer MONACO£4,500£17,768305.11%137%57.92%
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak£8,000£28,858270.3%137%57.92%
JLC Memovox£2,000£7,215270.4%137%57.92%
Blancpain 50 Fathoms£5,500£18,337242.38%137%57.92%
Zenith El Primero£1,500£4,331194.17%137%57.92%
Patek Philippe Nautilus£10,000£32,099229.69%137%57.92%
Cartier Tank£4,000£12,450219.65%137%57.92%
Rolex Submariner£25,000£71,199192.6%137%57.92%

Vinyl records

Until CDs took over the music scene in the mid-80s and the rise of digital streaming in the noughties, a collection of vinyl records graced nearly every home. Kicking back and listening to your favourite artist’s LP was the ultimate way to enjoy music. Times have changed, however, and many collections have been left to gather dust.

Today, a resurgence in the popularity of vinyls has given old records a new lease of life. Second-hand records that were only bought for a couple of pounds a few decades ago, are now selling for up to ten times or more their original retail price. If the record is particularly sought after, you’re looking at a resale value in the thousands.

Generally, it’s records from the biggest names in the music industry that are valued the highest, and though rare, early pressings can also command a high resale price. A first pressing of Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut album from 1969 was valued at a monumental £1000 in 2017, up 4900% since 2004 – 36 times that of gold and 94 times that of property. David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust too saw a significant 1100% increase in value in the same time period.

It’s important to note that quality plays a big part in the value of a record. The best ones are in mint condition, with no scratches and pristine covers. If it’s still sealed, even better.

“As well as records by the most famous artists, also look out for little known bands and one hit wonders, as these were more likely to have been produced in low numbers, making them rare,” explains Harper. “Signed album covers are hugely sought after, as long as the autographs can be verified because there are lots of fakes.

For this reason, be very wary where you buy expensive signed covers from. Online auction site sellers — unless they’re specialist with plenty of customer feedback — must be treated with caution. It’s best to stick to known dealers and experts who will guarantee provenance.”

He advises that, “with some research, it is easy to shop for bargains at antiques fairs around the country and there are some great finds if you know what you’re looking for. Increasingly, there are more and more sellers of vinyl because of the increase in interest and demand. Many of them aren’t experts in the field, however — they simply follow trends and buy vinyl in auction and house clearances to sell on for a quick profit.

My advice would be to pick a genre you’re interested in and research it until you know the titles you’re looking for and then go out hunting, before they’re all snapped up!”

Have a browse at the table below to see which records have hiked up in the value the most significantly over time. 

Record – First PressingOriginal retail priceValue in 2004Estimated value of vinyl in 2019Estimated rise in value 2004-2019% rise in value of gold 2004-2019% rise in value of property from 2004-2019
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (1972)£3£5£87.991122.2%137%57.92%
The Beatles – White Album (1968)£2.50£500£7,126938.8%137%57.92%
The Who – My Generation (1965), Bruns-wick (UK)£2.50£25£275.65734.8%137%57.92%
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)£3£15£133.86598.4%137%57.92%
The Ramones – The Ramones (1976)£3£10£77.97529.6%137%57.92%
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)£2.50£200£1,281.42426.4%137%57.92%
Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)£5£20£128.14426.4%137%57.92%
Madonna – Madonna (1983)£4.50£10£64.07426.4%137%57.92%
Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets (1967)£2.50£175£867.13322.6%137%57.92%
Otis Redding – Pain in My Heart (1964)£2.50£10£49.55322.6%137%57.92%

Were there some surprises on the list? Or perhaps it’s made you look at your old ‘junk’ with a little more appreciation…

Ironically, its these forgotten – yet potentially valuable – items that often get missed off contents insurance policies. But, with contents being worth on average £35,000 in UK households, buildings and contents insurance has never been more important.

With such high-value items, it’s important to check whether they would be covered in your home insurance policy; many of the items listed here would require you to list them as specified items. It’s also important to ensure you update your specified items’ value as it increases (most people tend to do this with their annual renewals but it’s important to do it continually). Whilst you’re doing this it’s also worth double-checking that the total sums insured of your contents are up-to-date.

Now there’s some motivation to have that garage clear out you’ve been planning for months — who knows what you might find!

Please note: This article does not contain investment advice.

Methodology and references
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