New research shows UK residents hoarding £48 billion worth of unused household items

New research shows UK residents hoarding £48 billion worth of unused household items


Hidden Treasures

Is your attic full to the brim with old belongings that haven’t seen the light of day for years – or even decades? If so, you’re not alone, as research has revealed that Brits have a staggering £48 billion worth of unused household items gathering dust in their attics.

We’re a nation of hoarders, afraid to let go of belongings that once meant a lot to us or have been passed down from loved ones. Beyond the sentimental value, however, so many of us are unaware of the potential monetary value of these everyday items – which often end up getting thrown to the back of a cupboard to gather dust.

But would you believe us if we said that these hidden treasures could have risen in value over the years at a rate greater than traditional investments like gold or even property? That’s right, you could be sitting on a small fortune and not even know it.

With insight from antiques expert David Harper, insurance experts HomeProtect have highlighted a selection of everyday items that have leapt up in value over the years. Some have even gained status as prized collector’s items.

Do you have any of these things tucked under your bed? After reading this, you’ll be desperate to check.

Designer Handbags

A designer handbag is the ultimate treat for the fashion conscious, but not everyone is aware that it could also be an incredible financial investment. In fact, some of the most sought-after designs could rake in thousands of pounds more than their original retail price if they were to go to auction or be sold on a resale site. With their steady increase in value exceeding the rise in value of both gold and property, however, it may be worth holding on to them for a little while yet.

Most significantly, Hermes’ iconic Birkin bag has proven itself to be a real gold-mine, by demonstrating a huge 275% increase in value between 2004 and 2018 – equating to an impressive £8,473 price jump. This is closely rivalled by the Chanel 2.55 Medium Flap Bag which has seen a rise of 250% – up from £1,155 to £4,043.

Interestingly, all of the bags on the list below, with exception of the two Hermes models, saw a plateau in value between 2016 and 2018. In contrast to the other brands, the two featured Hermes bags saw an increase of over 15% across those two years.

This could be indicative of the timeless exclusivity and status that comes with owning a Hermes bag. Since the 1980s, the luxury pieces of craftmanship have become valuable collector’s items and the waiting list for a brand-new Hermes Birkin bag can sometimes be as long as six years. Historically, Hermes bags have only ever seen positive fluctuations in value, so if you manage to get your hands on one, treat it with care.

Harper recommends to, “keep all of the packaging, boxes, ribbons, etc. that come with the bag, and if you have bought it purely as an investment and not for personal use, keep all the tags and protective stickers in place. It’s also worth retaining the purchase receipt, which provides proof of the retail price and date of purchase.

Often, even top brand handbags will drop in value quickly, due to the season, model and fashion changes, so be careful not to sell too soon when the bag is off trend. Old handbags soon become ‘retro chic’ once that particular model has been out of production for a few years and will begin to increase in value again with a new generation of buyers.”

“There is also a trend to have handbags personalised,” adds Harper. “I, as an artist have painted many bags (Louise Vuitton and Prada, in particular) with funky panels — mainly for those in the music business. These, undoubtedly, will be sought after on the second-hand market, so anything that makes a bag unique and rare will be a value adding feature.

General wear and tear is acceptable, but this will always devalue any top brand product. This is one reason why collectors will often have dozens of bags, to make sure that no one bag is over used and worn.”

First Edition Children’s Books

Upon stumbling across your old collection of children’s books in the attic, it’s likely that you’ll be flooded with fond memories of childhood or parenthood. The sentimental value and nostalgic offering of these books is something to be expected. What you might not be aware of, however, is that these classic pieces of literature that have brought such joy to many, could be valuable collectors’ items.

Loved by multiple generations, first edition copies of classic children’s titles such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Velveteen Rabbit can fetch between £5,000 and £10,000 at auction. Furthermore, the first edition of The Gruffalo saw an incredible 200% increase in value between 2004 and 2016 – that’s significantly more than the value increase of gold and property over the same period.

It’s worth noting that the condition and completeness of the book is paramount, as any damage or missing pages can decrease value significantly. Most 20th century books also need to have their original dust-jacket to be of collectable value.

“This is the area of collecting most likely to be overlooked, when clearing out a store room,” remarks Harper. “A children’s book worth hundreds or thousands of pounds, may have an old price ticket inside the cover of just a couple of pounds. It could be that it’s a bit thumbed and looks valueless, so it’s likely to be thrown away or given to a local charity, only later to be discovered by an eagle-eyed collector.

They will go straight to the edition date on the inside cover, spot it is a first edition and make themselves a packet. For this reason, before giving away old books, methodically inspect each book for its edition, date, and then put the title into an internet search.”

Vinyl Records

Until CDs took over the music scene in the mid-80s and the rise of digital streaming in the noughties, a collection of vinyl records graced nearly every home. Kicking back and listening to your favourite artist’s LP was the ultimate way to enjoy music. Times have changed, however, and many collections have been left to gather dust.

Today, a resurgence in the popularity of vinyls has given old records a new lease of life. Second-hand records that were only bought for a couple of pounds a few decades ago, are now selling for up to ten times or more their original retail price. If the record is particularly sought after, you’re looking at a resale value in the thousands.

Generally, it’s records from the biggest names in the music industry that are valued the highest, and though rare, early pressings can also command a high resale price. A first pressing of Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut album from 1969 was valued at a monumental £1000 in 2017, up 4900% since 2004 – 36 times that of gold and 94 times that of property. David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust too saw a significant 1100% increase in value in the same time period.

It’s important to note that quality plays a big part in the value of a record. The best ones are in mint condition, with no scratches and pristine covers. If it’s still sealed, even better.

“As well as records by the most famous artists, also look out for little known bands and one hit wonders, as these were more likely to have been produced in low numbers, making them rare,” explains Harper. “Signed album covers are hugely sought after, as long as the autographs can be verified because there are lots of fakes.

For this reason, be very wary where you buy expensive signed covers from. Online auction site sellers — unless they’re specialist with plenty of customer feedback — must be treated with caution. It’s best to stick to known dealers and experts who will guarantee provenance.”

He advises that, “with some research, it is easy to shop for bargains at antiques fairs around the country and there are some great finds if you know what you’re looking for. Increasingly, there are more and more sellers of vinyl because of the increase in interest and demand. Many of them aren’t experts in the field, however — they simply follow trends and buy vinyl in auction and house clearances to sell on for a quick profit.

My advice would be to pick a genre you’re interested in and research it until you know the titles you’re looking for and then go out hunting, before they’re all snaped up!”



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