What’s taking up space in your kitchen could be someone else’s treasure.
Those large sets of silver-plated dinnerware or crystal stemware you inherited? They may not be worth as much as you hope, but your kitchen could still contain treasures. “Today’s kids don’t want what their great-grandmothers grew up with,” says Helaine Fendelman, a New York City-based expert in art, antiques, and collectibles. “Most of the kids today want IKEA, Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel—stuff they can put in a dishwasher. They don’t want things like gold and silver.”
That doesn’t mean that you don’t have valuable items hiding in your kitchen. These days, there’s a “Magnolia effect,” inspired by former HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, says Marsha Dixey, consignment director at Heritage Auctions. “A lot of people are mixing older stuff with this mid-century stuff and making it work,” she says. So while your grandmother’s china might not fetch a pretty penny, those fun salt and pepper shakers from the 1950s could be worth more than you think. Here are some potentially valuable items that might be gathering dust in your kitchen:
If you have an 1880s stove that’s still in excellent working condition, you can get between $3,000 and $5,000 for it, Fendelman says. “The West Coast is a hotbed of old stove people,” she says. Curious if yours might be worth money? Check out the Barnstable Stove Shop, which restores and sells antique coal stoves and gas kitchen ranges.
One of Fendelman’s friends collects whimsical teapots. She’s paid between a few dollars to a couple of hundred dollars for them. “She has them in her kitchen and they’re beautiful,” Fendelman says. She recommends the websites Ruby Lane and Cyberattic as good resources for getting a sense of the value of kitchen collectibles. Don’t miss these 10 hidden treasures that could be in your garage.
“Anything that has color, that has form, that has shape, that’s different,” is appealing to collectors, Fendelman says. She had a wall clock in her kitchen that she paid $18 for and ultimately sold for $25. “So you’re not going to get rich,” Fendelman says. “But they’re fun to decorate with.”
Cooking with cast iron has come back into vogue, but people are also looking for pieces they can display. One popular item? A company called Prizer developed an enamel for their cast-iron cookware that brought color to kitchens in the 1950s and 1960s, Dixey says. Pieces like that appeal especially to millennial collectors today. “It’s something that they don’t just put on a shelf and look at,” Dixey says. “They get to use it.”
Another friend of Fendelman’s collects vintage toasters. He bought them for anywhere from $50 to $150, she says. One thing to remember: the condition is paramount in anything you’re looking to sell. “Everything has to work,” Fendelman says. “You can’t have missing pieces or missing parts. A rolling pin with one handle doesn’t cut it.”
“The Fannie Farmer cookbook is not a good one, but there are early cookbooks that are valuable,” Fendelman says. In fact, there’s a shop devoted to them in New York City called Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks. So if you’ve got a copy of, say, The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking on your shelf, it could be worth money. Find out what rare books could be worth a fortune.
Salt and pepper shakers
Many people collect figural salt and pepper shakers, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse or fire trucks, Fendelman says. “They’re fun to decorate with and have on your table,” she says. For example, a set of porcelain Dachshund shakers goes for $38.
Carved wooden cookie molds made in Pennsylvania and Germany are also in demand. “They have to have figures of people on them to be really rare,” Fendelman says. A mold of an angel with a horn crafted by a master woodcarver is going for about $21.99. Here are 8 cheap things that could be worth a fortune someday.
Le Creuset Cookware
You may have gotten this premium cookware from Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel, and it retains its value. “More and more I see them on the secondary marketplace selling for almost as much as when they were new,” Fendelman says. So if you’re looking to unload your dutch oven, you might get back close to what you paid for it.
Wrought-iron cooking spoons and ladles
Utensils that date back to the 1800s are also popular among people looking to add a rustic touch to their homes. Items like this wrought-iron ladle may have peaked in public interest and Dixey doesn’t think they’ll appreciate further. “Still, $20 is $20,” Dixey notes. Next, find out what items from your childhood could be valuable.