Keep your Eyes Open for Hidden Gems

Most storage unit auctions offer boxes. Tons of boxes. A seasoned bidder can see right through those boxes! Looking for misshaped boxes, markings on boxes and certain types of boxes, bidders can get a feel for what is inside. The types of boxes also show the value placed on the contents. If the boxes are a haphazard mix of types and sizes, little value was placed during packing. If the boxes are all similar types like wine boxes or paper boxes, more effort went into packing the items. If the boxes were purchased (file boxes, moving and storage boxes, or, best case, special boxes for glass or baseball cards) the items inside are probably more valuable.When a storage unit door is rolled up and you have 10 seconds to analyze the contents, you should not pass over units that look like a “whole lotta nothin’”.                                                    The following is a list of items that if found, may be worth a “whole lotta cash”!           

Dolls - Porcelain dolls are worth collecting and selling and they have a high value. But these dolls are not the only ones that are worth high dollars. Many dolls produced for children that were intended for play instead of collection can carry a high price. Barbie, of course is the first in line for a value status, especially the “original” dolls. Kewpie dolls are highly collectible as are Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Some of the Disney dolls are worth a good sum as are original GI Joes. If you are lucky enough to come across a one of a kind art doll, do heavy research before you sell them to art galleries.                                       

Fountain Pens - If you find a fountain pen in a box of bics, you are considered very lucky. Fountain pens can attract a high value even if they are fairly new. Vintage pens are worth a large price tag. These pens date back to the late 1800’s and were notorious for their leaky demeanor causing ink stained hands They lost their lustre in the 1940’s and became a tool more for artists than the regular letter writer. Finding one in the bottom of a box in a storage unit could net you several hundred dollars.

Glassware - Glassware is a mainstay find in a storage unit auction. It may look like the normal kind of glassware found in every kitchen, but you need to do a little research to know what you are looking at.  Having a good Glass Information Book along on auction day can help decipher what goes in the trash and what goes into the collections pile. Depression glass, Amber glass, Milk glass, are all pieces that are still around that can fetch a fair amount of money. Green glass is one of the most popular colors to collect as is light pink and aquamarine. Both color or plain glassware are financial finds if you can identify them as vintage.    

Silverware - Silverware, especially whole sets are very collectible. Because of their value when new, people are looking for pieces all the time. Salad servers and cake knives and serving spoons are often sought after as are matching steak knives. Look for the name of the silversmith on the back of the flatware to determine its value.

Dishware - Wedgwood, Noritake, Pfaltzgraff and Corelle are all predominant names in the world of collectible dishware. Whether it’s fine china or everyday dinnerware, dishes can not only be found in storage units at auctions, but you can successfully turn sell them for a good price. Again, an informational book about dishes will help in pricing and knowing about what you have found.

Cookie Jars - Cookie jars are hot items especially for collectors. If you come across a McCoy cookie jar, you are in luck! McCoy is one of the first companies to produce cookie jars. The name is located on the bottom of the jar and can sell for $100!  Other brand to look for are Brush Pottery, American Bisque and Red Wing USA.

Cookware - An aluminum Dutch oven, a enamelware fondue pot, cast iron and copperware are all pieces of cookware that can be found and then sold for a nice price. Often piled in old boxes and dirty, cookware may not look like much, but once cleaned up, they become collectors items!  

Beer Steins- German Beer steins have been the staple of a college guy’s decor for the last 100 years. And now they are major collectibles. They are huge mugs made of stoneware or pewter and they have designs and details and characters emblazoned on the exterior.  Steins with lids and  are handpainted can get up to $100 per stein. Check the bottom of the stein for a stamp from the production company. Mettlach was one of the most popular companies to produce ornate, carved and hand-painted steins through the 1800s and 1900s. .

Tablecloths and Linens - Tablecloths from the 1950s are very popular along with tea-towels and oven mitts. Look for lace tablecloths in good condition and even vintage curtains. Hand crocheted doilies and coverlets were popular during the 30’s and 40’s and can be of value.Just like cookware, linens tend to be stuffed into boxes and not wrapped properly. Again, a book explaining types of linens to save and discard are always worth carrying for more information.

Keeping an eye out for the right stuff during a storage unit auction can be a challenge. But, if you know what you are looking for and its value, you can make some good money on items that others may throw away. offers subscribers the largest database of storage auctions across the country, providing information on auctions in all fifty states and over 51,000 facilities. Established as the leading provider of storage auctions online, with over 10,000 each month and information on over 250,000 auctions, is on the way to providing the same results and information for you on all auctions across the country.

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