This is the second article in a series that will highlight items that are selling well versus items that are selling poorly, based on personal observation.
Vintage Bakelite Jewelry – Bakelite was developed by Leo Baekeland in Yonkers, New York, in 1907. As an early plastic, it was used primarily for electrical insulation due to its nonconductive properties. Use eventually spread to radio cases, kitchenware, toys, smoking pipes, and even firearms. However, our focus will be jewelry.
The most collectible bakelite jewelry tends to be beaded necklaces and bangle bracelets, although whimsical brooches are very popular, too. Vintage cherry amber and egg yolk-colored beaded necklaces can command hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single necklace, depending on the size of the beads. Bracelets of all colors with interesting designs or carvings tend to be very popular amongst collectors, as are apple juice-colored bracelets that may have flowers, fish, or other designed carved or painted on the inside. Pin subjects vary widely – from patriotic pins and banjo playing frogs to pipe smoking dogs and pencils with dangling school charms. The more unusual, the more collectible they seem to be!
Vintage Rock N’ Roll Memorabilia – Whether you were a flower child from the 1960s or a wild child from the 1980s, some of the souvenirs from the concerts and your favorite bands may be quite valuable now. Original concert posters are very desirable amongst collectors, with many fetching several hundred dollars to a thousand dollars or more. Extremely rare Beatles or Grateful Dead posters can even jump into the five-figure range.
In addition to posters, ticket stubs, programs, even old concert t-shirts are collectible. 1980s hard rock t-shirts frequently resell for $50-$100+, and if you were lucky enough to acquire and hang onto original rock shirts from the 1960s or 70s, those can be worth even more.
Silver plate – Historically, silver was originally only affordable to the very wealthy. However, in the mid 1700s, Thomas Boulsover of Sheffield, England, invented a process in which he could bind a fine layer of silver to other metals, giving the appearance of silver at a fraction of the cost.
Today, while silver remains popular for use in jewelry and decorating, most buyers prefer to have sterling silver over silver plate, as both require the same degree of care and maintenance, but sterling objects hold their value much better.
How do you know if your item is sterling or silver plate? Sterling items are typically marked “STERLING” or “925”, as sterling is 92.5% pure silver. Silver plate objects may be marked EPNS (Electro-plated nickel silver), Quadruple Plate, Silver on Copper, etc. Also, sterling items won’t be attracted by a magnet, whereas sometimes silver plate objects will be.
Beanie Babies – Beanie Babies were launched in 1993, but didn’t start becoming a collectible phenomenon until 1995. Their story is a fascinating lesson in supply and demand, when production of the beanies was limited on purpose, leading to a massive secondary market. At the peak of their popularity, they accounted for approximately 10% of the sales on eBay where they could be flipped for as much as a 1000% mark-up.
However, like most collectible crazes, the era of the Beanie Baby has come and gone. Most people that collected large quantities of the stuffed critters are disappointed to learn that their investment is most likely worth pennies on the dollar now. Due to their low resale value, I recommend that people who wish to depart with their collections donate them to police or children’s hospitals, so that they may be enjoyed by younger generations in need of some cuddly comfort.