After more than two decades appraising art, antiques, and collectibles and training my followers to identify valuables and resell for profit, I want to share some of the most successful tips that people have used to cash in on items available at estate, yard, and garage sales.


Avoid Damaged Pieces

No matter where you are shopping for old items to flip, damage is always a no-no. If something is damaged, the cost of restoring it could be high.

So before you pick up and pay for that tattered 19th-century quilt or broken lithograph tin wind-up toy, consider its condition. You’ll be glad you did.

If you decide to ignore this warning and buy a damaged piece and get it restored, make sure you know the cost of the restoration. Ask the restorer for before-and-after photos of his/her work on a similar piece. Inquire about insurance coverage while your antique is in a restorer’s care.  


Look for Original Packaging and Parts

The treasure hunt is always exciting. When it comes to board games, toys, electronics, objects with accessories, and many more vintage and antique items, the package, box, or presentation displays for an item are valuable.

Having all of the pieces is also a vital aspect to establishing value. If you can hunt around the yard sale tables or estate sale shelves for that missing chess piece or lamp base, it will be worth it.

Ask the yard sale host if they know the location of any of the missing parts or other accessories. This simple question will help you make money as you build your collection or resell your find.


Don’t Ignore the Unmarked Items

There is a longstanding myth in the art and antiques world that a piece must be signed, marked, or labeled to be valuable. This is just not true.

Sure, it is good to have documentation, signatures, marks, etc., but it is not the holy grail when it comes to identifying valuable art, antiques, or collectible objects.

While documentation — in its many forms, such as signatures, original labels, backstamps, or other marks — is important, it is not the only thing to look for when assessing a valuable item at a yard sale or estate sale.

For example, some antiques and art items were created in certain eras. For instance, most Colonial American paintings, while valuable, were not signed by the artist. It was thought that these pieces should not be signed out of respect for the sitter or person who commissioned the painting.

With certain valuable ceramics, marks were not included on some pieces.


Zero in on Furniture, Precious Metals, and Works of Art

Some of the most desirable and valuable objects in the antiques arena fall into these three categories: fine art, furniture and home décor, and precious metals, including jewelry. Don’t overlook these objects.


Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning media personality Dr. Lori presents antique-appraisal events nationwide and appears on History channel’s The Curse of Oak Island and Pawn Stars Do America. Visit, watch her Real Bargains show to find valuables at bargain prices on, or call (888) 431-1010.

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