12 Things You Should Never, Ever Pass Up at Antique Shops, According to Appraisers

These hidden gems could be worth a lot of money.

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Going antiquing is kind of like going on a treasure hunt. The only problem is distinguishing the actual treasure from cleverly disguised junk. We consulted veteran appraisers and for the insider tips on finding the proverbial diamond in the rough.

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Victorian Christmas card, 1877
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Victorian Christmas Cards

"All of the holidays have gotten more popular in collecting," says , co-author of the . "And the most popular one obviously is Christmas." Vintage cards in good condition can fetch about $10 to $50 apiece, she says, but particularly valuable ones can shoot up into the three- or even four-figure range. Some cards will have the year printed on the front or the back, but classic Victorian motifs like flowers, robins, and other animals can also help date the card.

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Vintage Christmas ornaments.
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Vintage Christmas Ornaments

Likewise, this other holiday staple has its own growing set of fans. Decorations in excellent condition in the original packaging will receive top dollar, with unusual '50s-era beauties fetching upwards of $50 per box on . Another Christmas collectible favorite: .

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Stained Glass

are easier to source in stores than online due to their fragile nature, advises antiques expert. "Look for the leading," she says. "You want to see a sharp, clean line."

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Costume Jewelry

don't have to be real for the piece to be valuable. Baubles by well-known makers like , , , and can fetch big bucks, like $500 for a pair of earrings.


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antique purses
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Antique Purses

You might already own a , but the market is trending toward more retro offerings as well. Try searching out brightly-colored the next time you're out shopping.

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native american baskets
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Native American Baskets

People often overlook , but the shape, pattern, and the type of weaving itself can tell you a lot about a basket's function and provenance. Depending on its age and condition, a single container can .

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Kutani Chinaware

"You've got be careful with ceramics because the markets do change a lot," Verderame warns. "What keeps its value pretty well is ." The Japanese white porcelain offers such craftsmanship, you can hold it up to the light and see exactly how thin it is.

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meissen porcelain
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Meissen Porcelain

Another valuable type of ceramic? , from the German town of the same name. Don't pay big bucks just because it's authentic though. "With any antique or collectible, if it's not in good shape, leave it there," Verderame advises.

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tin lithographed toy
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Tin Toys

For the young at heart, are the way to go. The are especially covetable. "They can sell for $45 and you flip them online for somewhere between $250 to $350," Verderame says.

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World's Fair Memorabilia

Paris, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia — no matter where it was held, in general command a lot of interest. The souvenirs can include everything from snow globes to pocket watches.

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Duncan Phyfe Furniture

In case you've missed it, mid-century furniture is having a moment, but traditionalists don't have to give up on collecting classics. Verderame recommends looking for pieces done in the style of since they go for reasonable prices while still maintaining value.


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Maria Martinez Pottery

The famous Pueblo artist produced so much of , you can now find it all over the country, Verderame says. Take note: Martinez often signed her pieces different ways and with other members of her family, dating her creations to specific timeframes.


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