Ever since Lovejoy beamed his way onto our telly, antiques have been a bit of an obsession. The cheeky chappie with an eye for a hidden bargain (and the ladies of course!) made old things cool again: paintings, statues, dusty old vases.
Then, of course, there was the Antiques Roadshow. Originally intended as a kind of portmanteau show, highlighting the in situ collections of famous British country houses, the programme has morphed over the years into the format we know today. Local folk bring their old stuff along for appraisal, and every now and then someone discovers that the thimble Aunty Gladys used to use for holding toothpicks is worth a thousand pounds.
If you fancy yourself a bit of an antiques maverick, more Lovejoy than Tink, you can put your money where your mouth is on several antiques oriented TV shows – from Bargain Hunt (where you also get to admire David Dickinson’s legendary tan!) to Flog It! Or, of course, you can simply take your treasured possessions along to the next Antiques Roadshow in your area and have the experts do it for you…
Antiques don’t have to be old, nor do they have to be sold. Modern collectables include toys and games from the last 30 years. Indeed, famous toys from our own childhoods are now much sought after on the collecting scene – so next time you go up in the attic have a look to see what you can find. You might have the bones of an extraordinary collection already, mouldering away in a box. And if you’re not interested in them yourself, you can guarantee that a modern-day Ian McShane certainly would be!
The toys that make the grade are usually the ones everyone remembers. Though interestingly there’s a cut-off point in terms of value. When collectables reach huge figures, the bottom drops out of the market thanks to the simple fact that 99 percent of collectors can’t afford the prices. This happened to Dinky toys a few years ago – collecting them became such a big thing that rare models began to command extremely silly price-tags, at which point the bubble burst.
Modern toys still enjoying legendary status in the collector’s world include original Star Wars toys; Lego; Barbie dolls; and Action Man dolls. All of these can command quite serious money in the right quarters, and provided you own the right toy in its original box. Be aware, if you are thinking of bulking up your nest egg with a quick toy sale, it’s the original boxes that count. An unopened vintage modern toy is worth a surprising amount in comparison to one that has been played with: and the value drops sharply as the condition of the toy deteriorates.
My friend’s grandson was recently given a biscuit tin full of original Matchbox cars. Some of them looked very old, so we had a look on eBay to see how much they were selling for. A battered old Lamborghini looked, in its current state, to be worth around £80. Had it been boxed and mint, it would have fetched £800.
So I suppose the question really is: is it better to play with a toy, or keep it in its box? The child in me knows that Toy Story 2 has the right answer. The adult quite likes the idea of owning all my old vintage Matchbox toys again, mint condition, all boxed up. But even then, I’m not sure if I would sell them.
Got something to sell? Learn more about vintage toys at Ask Granny, the online site for grandparents.