7 garage sale finds that turned out to be worth a fortune


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As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But these cases take that to the extreme, with eagle-eyed garage sale shoppers cashing in on hidden treasures.

Here are seven of the most impressive finds ever uncovered at a garage sale.

Image Credit: iStock.

1. Northern Song Dynasty Bowl

Bought for: $3

Worth: $2.2 million

Imagine purchasing a bowl from a garage sale for $3, and identifying it as a piece from China’s Northern Song dynasty, worth about $200,000 or $300,000. Then, imagine it sells at auction for almost 10 times that number. 

It happened to a New York family in March 2013, when their 10th-Century ‘Ding’ bowl sold for $2.2 million at Sotheby’s to Giuseppe Eskenazi, a British art dealer


. The 5-1/2-inch piece of china had been collecting dust on a mantle since 2007, when the sellers began to suspect it was worth a little something. (OK – a big something.)

Image Credit: Sotheby’s.

2. The Declaration of Independence

Bought for: $2.48

Worth: $477,650

Back in 1820, Congress ordered 200 William J. Stone reproductions of the Declaration of Independence. Of those, 35 were believed to have survived to the present day. Michael Sparks found number 36.

The Tennessee man picked up the document–along with salt and pepper shakers–for $2.48, figuring it was a cheapo reprint. Days later, he realized the engraving was way too fancy for a mass-produced copy. Internet research and historians confirmed his suspicions–Sparks had indeed stumbled into one of Stone’s Declarations, which he promptly sold at auction.

Image Credit: Public domain.

3. 18th century card table

Bought for: $25

Worth: $541,500

Before putting that old sofa or armoire out to pasture, you better check its pedigree. Otherwise, someone like Claire Wiegand-Beckmann might snag it, and resell it to fund her retirement.

The retired New Jersey teacher did just that in 1998, when her $25 garage sale card table sold for $541,000 at a Sotheby’s auction. Made by John Seymour & Son, a Boston furniture maker, sometime in the late 1700s, the table had been sitting in Wiegand-Beckmann’s home for 30 years before she took it for appraisal on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, which ballparked it at a mere $200,000 to $300,000.

Image Credit: Antiques Roadshow.

4. Velvet Underground record

Bought for: $0.75

Worth: about $25,000

Warren Hill could have bought a Velvet Underground CD for about $7 on Amazon. But in 2002, when the Montreal record buff spotted a VU album at a New York City sidewalk sale for $0.75, he figured he was getting a deal.

Little did Hill know that the EP was a rarity–a demo that Lou Reed’s trailblazing punk group cut for Columbia Records in April 1966. The disc went for $25,000 on eBay, and remains the only known copy of the recording session.

Image Credit: WFMU.org.

5. Andy Warhol sketch

Bought for: $5

Worth: an estimated $2 million

When British businessman Andy Fields bought a child’s drawing at a Las Vegas yard sale in 2010, he had no idea that the kid in question was pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol.

The picture, of ’30s singer Rudy Vallee, was sketched by Warhol when he was about 10 or 11, and confined to bed, suffering from cholera. Fields hasn’t sold the art yet, and has debated putting it on display. In the meantime, it continues to appreciate.

Image Credit: National Archives.

6. Tiffany mirror

Bought for: $2

Worth: about $25,000

“There are people who collect Tiffany in New Mexico, and they’re going to be very sorry they didn’t go to this yard sale,” said Antiques Roadshow appraiser Arlie Sulka when she came across this 1905 Tiffany Peacock Mirror in 2010.

The buyer had procured the mirror two weeks prior in nearby Hurley, without any knowledge of its history. The piece, designed in Art Noveau style, included both leaded and reflective glass, and was stamped with the iconic “Tiffany Studios, New York” on its side.

Sulka appraised it at $25,000 – or, 12,500 times what the buyer purchased it for. Not bad for a day’s haul.

Image Credit: Antiques Roadshow.

7. LeBron James jersey pendant

Bought for: $5

Worth: about $10,000 – but there’s a hitch

Vaneisha Robinson thought she had lucked out. The Ohioan, who paid $5 for what she believed to be costume jewelry, had actually bought a white gold, diamond-encrusted LeBron James’ jersey pendant. She wore it to high school several times before having it appraised at $10,000 and posting it for sale on eBay.

But that’s when things took a turn. The piece turned out to be stolen, and within days, Robinson had it forcibly removed from her possession by a group supposedly associated with James. Afterward, she was investigated for theft, but maintained her innocence: “That pendant is mine. It belongs to me.”

This article originally appeared on Considerable.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.