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What to collect, save or sell

Your old vinyl record albums aren’t worth a thing.

Neither are your royal commemorative teapots, your Kodak Brownie camera nor any of your homemade arts and crafts.

At least not on eBay, where buyers spent $34 billion last year – nearly the gross national product of Morocco.

So, if you’ve got some things you thought were too good for your garage sale or are debating whether to donate or sell, it pays to know what’s hot. That’s especially true because going the eBay route can be time- and labor-intensive if you do it yourself.

There are some things that have lasting value, says Jane Merlo of Clutter to Cash, an Internet auction consignment business that will post unwanteds on eBay for a price. Those include Barbies, Hummels, china sets and high-end label anything. But most things are subject to the ebb and flow of cool.

“Things can become hot, like in popular culture, almost immediately,” Merlo says. “Like if Oprah says, ‘I like this,’ then everyone’s going to eBay to find it.”

Timing and economics also play a part in this equation.

Think about what people want when, says Linda Viola, owner of Auction Depot USA, an Internet auction consignment business in Webster, N.Y. Holiday items won’t do well in January, for example.

Factor shipping into your plans, too, because the buyer foots that bill.

“Nine times out of 10 somebody will not bid on something if the shipping is too much,” Viola says.

With all that in mind, here’s some of what’s hot now on eBay, based on information from the online auction powerhouse itself, HGTV, Clutter to Cash and Auction Depot USA.


Original movie scripts are hot, as is anything authenticated with a certificate or a photo with a celebrity.

Sports, fitness

Equipment for sports such as archery, golf (including Nike drivers and Titleist irons), hockey, hunting, tennis, cycling, skiing, baseball and basketball is popular, especially if it’s high-end. You’ll probably also have luck with badminton sets, pocket multitools, heart-rate monitors, skateboarding videos and resistance bands.

Cameras, photos

Among the sellable items: Kodak slide projectors and carousels, pre-1940 daguerreotypes, high-end cameras (or antique cameras that used to be high-end) and Schmidt-Cassegrain binoculars or telescopes.

Musical instruments

Anything high-end and in good shape will sell, says Viola. Some examples: brass trombones by Bach or Selmer; Epiphone acoustic guitars; Alesis drum machines; Kork electronic synthesizers; guitar necks, parts and bodies; electronic keyboards by Yamaha or Casio; flutes by Bundy, Selmer or Gemeinhardt; Kramer electric guitars; and drum hoops and rims.


In this category, there’s demand for the new (iPods, LCD flat-panel TVs, Bose CD players, Magellan GPS devices) and old (vintage receivers and Pioneer reel-to-reel tape recorders). Ham radio equipment (receivers, oscillators and filters) also sells well.


Vintage toys in excellent condition with original packaging are hot, Merlo says. With toys, “vintage” includes the 1980s and such playthings as Smurfs, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake. Of course, classics such as pre-1968 Disney items, G.I. Joe, John Deere and pre-1973 Barbie also sell. Brands such as Fisher-Price, Franklin Mint and Vitesse are popular as well. Contemporary toys – Harry Potter play sets, Pokemon, Tamagotchi, “Lord of the Rings,” Disney items circa “Toy Story,” and later – sell, too.

Clothes, accessories

Clothing can be a tough sell on eBay, says Merlo. But there are exceptions, such as high-end or collectible clothing. Maternity clothes do well, as do authentic designer handbags and accessories, vintage (1965 to 1976) shoes, and pre-1901 or World War II-era clothes. Kids’ clothing is also popular.

Jewelry, watches

Jewelry does well if it comes with an appraisal, says Viola. Other popular items include antique jewelry with rhinestones or maker’s stamp from Weiss, Lisner, Coro, Haskell or Eisenberg; watch winders; ring settings, sizers; silver bracelets and necklaces; Huggie hoop or chandelier earrings; fine cameos and Mexican bracelets.


Some things never seem to lose their value. On eBay, sterling silver (not silver plate) and crystal from Swarovski and Waterford go for top dollar. Depression glass and carnival and perfume bottles do well, too. Then there are surprises like trading cards for Yu-Gi-Oh!, “Twilight Zone,” “Mars Attacks,” “Superman” and “Stargate.”

Old advertising (beer mirrors and tins and signs touting Cracker Jacks or chewing gum, for example) also does well.

Vintage Boy Scouts of America paraphernalia is hot right now, as are Cypraea and conch shells; publications and apparatus for magic, rocks, fossils and minerals; and precious metal specimens.

Christmas decorations are popular, too, especially pre-1946 ornaments, Department 56 (North Pole), Hallmark series ornaments and contemporary Nativity items.

At the other end of the spectrum, German World War I items and Vietnam War personal/field gear and edged weapons also will get you some money.

There also is a slew of miscellaneous things you can sell: Zippo, Dupont and Scripto lighters; pulleys, blocks and tackle; straight razors; bread boxes; Western Americana belt buckles, railroadiana (watches); ceramic or mixed lots of buttons; sharks’ teeth; traffic lights-signals; tarot decks; black Americana signs and gold compacts.