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Where To Look For Hidden Treasures For Resale on Ebay

Updated on September 3, 2012

What is Valuable?

My Ebay business is largely composed of items recovered from storage facilities. I've learned a lot of valuable information since I started my business as to where to look for hidden treasures that can be easily overlooked.

The following suggestions apply to resellers who buy at auctions, yard sales and estate sales. Even an inheritance of what appears to be near worthless items can be hiding some secrets.

Here are some procedures I take when going through a preowned batch of items I'm preparing to list:

1) Books

Books can contain hidden treasures. Not only can the book itself be a rare volume, but many people use books, especially large, heavy ones, to hide items of worth. Paper money is tops on the list.

2) Jewelry

It's not always easy to determine the value of a piece of jewelry. Use a magnifying glass for etchings of makers and consistency of metals. Sometimes, the markings are in obscure spots on the jewelry. Look over the entire piece with great scrutiny. Often, it takes magnification just to see the .925 sterling silver, for example.

3) Jewelry and Trinket Boxes

Always take out every drawer of a trinket or jewelry box. Sometimes items get pushed back or fall out of a drawer. You also might find a valuable item purposely glued to the bottom or back of the container.

4) Old Clothes

Check every pocket of used clothing. I've found some very interesting items in pockets, some of which I would rather not have known about. Many times; however, coins and/or paper money can be found in an inside vest pocket. Also, if it's an old lined item of clothing, feel around the lining and make sure something of value hasn't been sewn in.

5) Old Pictures and Photographs

It could be that the old picture now in your possession might be hiding something. Check carefully to see that there's not another unexposed picture of great value behind the visible one. Also, a framed picture might hide items of value between the front picture and back cardboard. It's my practice to take apart every picture before listing.

6) Labeled Boxes

Just because a box might be labeled "clothing," doesn't mean that's precisely what's inside. Often, a sterling pair of earrings, or delicate glass collectibe might be sandwiched between the soft materials. Even if you don't typically deal in clothes sales, go through each piece before giving the entire container away.

7) Stacks of Papers

Never discard an entire box or stack of papers assuming they're all just college notes or recipes, etc. About an inch down, there might be some paper money that was overlooked for years. Also, you can never assume that there isn't some valuable documents among the worthless ones.

8) Rusty and Worn Metals

Don't toss out the home decor that you feel would be too time consuming to repair. What might appear to be worn out and in need of sanding and repainting, could be exactly what a buyer is looking for nowadays. Many decorators are looking for metals with a used look with missing paint, a little rust, and some other show of wear like tarnish.

9) Electronics

I have found that nearly always, there is a market for broken electronics. I'm amazed when I look for comparables on Ebay, at the amount of electronic items that are listed as "for parts only." The great thing is, they sell!

If you find something that isn't so marketable any longer, like monitors, learn how to disassemble them carefully to retrieve the copper and aluminum contained therein. The price for certain metals can be quite rewarding.

Giving Back

Keep in mind as you go through storage facilities that many of the items left there are because of divorce. Often the wounded partner puts items of value in these facilities to keep them hidden. Many times the contents are stored quickly when a marriage breaks up and not a lot of thought is given to the value at the present time. Often it's the intent to only store items away for a short period of time, but unforeseen events prevent the recovery of what was once considered very precious.

The same life situations can also bring about yard sales where it's not unusual to find items boxed up quickly and without much thought as to all the contents and their monetary value.

At an estate sale, items can be bought in bulk that have been quickly determined to be all basically of the same category, but a keen eye can pick out an overlooked gem.

It is indeed a rarity for me to throw away anything. I see value in every item and the old saying by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford is true, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

One thing I've learned that nearly always applies for resellers on Ebay is that "One man's trash is another man's treasure."


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