6 Collectible Heirlooms You May Already Own!

Updated: Jan 2, 2020


*Note on graphic: Original business and owner names hidden for privacy, as this was a ghostwritten blog

As a picker and collectibles curator, people often ask me for advice on picking items that will hold value well or become a great family heirloom.

Whether you’re sorting through a deceased loved-one’s belongings, de-cluttering your attic, or shopping for a gift that could make a great collectible, I’ve put together a short list of items that make great collectibles and what features to look for.

Let me start by saying that heirlooms and collectibles don’t need to be overly-expensive designer or ancient relics.

Sure, there is a whole category of high end antiques collectors and fine art connoisseurs, but the thing about collectibles is that your most cherished items won’t be the same as someone else’s. I think it’s important to know that it’s those little items of sentimental value that are often treasured the most. Like those shells you collected on your first walk down the beach. Or your grandfather’s green Schwinn bicycle that he passed down to you. Or a bunch of tacky bright colored brooches from your mother’s jewelry box from the 60s.

But, if you’re like me, you might have all sorts of random items in storage in your attic or basement that you haven’t been ready to part with yet…and yet they’re just sitting in boxes collecting dust.

During our move into our new Florida bungalow, I found my anxiety levels rising every time I moved a box that I realized hadn’t even been opened in years. I knew I needed to make some decisions on what was coming into the new house and what should probably be parted with.

So how do you know when something is worth keeping? What IS a collectible and what’s just junk?

Here are the three magic questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is there financial value in this?

  2. Is there historical value in this?

  3. Is there overwhelming sentimental value in this?

I’m not gonna lie to you – it’s really hard to not stash and store every single drawing my son has ever made me. And there are other little gifts and random bits that have absolutely no value to anyone but myself that I’m never going to throw away. I’m working on ways of creating some rotating display options for these types of things so that they aren’t stuffed away into a box or shoved under a bed. I’m sure I could develop a whole separate blog dedicated to this, but here are a couple of quick tips for curating your items of sentimental-but-not-exactly-design value.

One way to hold onto your memories without hanging onto the clutter is to collect an item that REPRESENTS the memories. This brass shell is a beautiful, decorative reminder of collecting shells on the beaches of Florida with my son. ($78)

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Lucite cases are great for storing and displaying small personal keepsakes, too! These are full of seashells but can be opened and changed out for seasonal makeovers! ($148)

Financially valuable and historical valuable items are a lot harder to figure out, especially since most of us aren’t antiques or art appraisers! It takes a lot of leg work and research sometimes to find out the history of an item, but here are a couple of online guides if you’re interested in learning more:

How to get the most out of an online appraisal

How to value collectibles like an appraiser

To be considered an antique, an item must be 75 years or older. (That’s anything older than 1942 at the time of writing this.) So just because Aunt Doreen’s scarf collection seems outdated and “old” to you, they’re not antiques. BUT, there ARE some very collectible scarf brands, like VERA scarves which feature bold colors and patterns and are very “IN” right now. So don’t toss the non-antiques just yet…more on this in a bit.

So what ARE some good antiques worth collecting that hold their value?

Great Timeless Antiques

Furniture is always a great investment. Your best bets are untouched, smaller pieces. And hard woods like teak and walnut have lasting power. Desks, side tables, and small chests of drawers are all good examples of collectible antique furniture.

Mid-century modern furniture has clean lines and sturdy builds, like this beautiful marble-top coffee table that could anchor a living room in your home and that of your grandchildren! ($428)

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This nightstand is a great size for an heirloom, and it has a classic silhouette. Its unique pattern in olive ash and walnut makes it eye-catching – all hallmarks of a perfect collectible. ($4,000)

Sculpture & Glass is another genre of lasting antique collectibles.

“Eighteenth-century English glass at the top end is still a good buy. Large sculptural items from the late 19th century through to Art Deco are a good investment,” says specialty dealer Mark West.

Murano glass is one of the most collectible forms of glasswork in the world. Made on the island of Murano near Venice, Italy, this glassware has been perfected for centuries! This vintage vase has a fun pattern and could easily add texture and color to any room ($398)

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Pottery is one of the oldest relics of human civilization around the world – it’s no wonder so many people collect pottery. The huge variety in pottery means you can focus on particular geographic regi