Undervalued Items That Turned Out to Be Worth a Fortune

Fabulous Finds Worth Big Bucks

undervalued items worth a fortune

@WR36 / Twenty20

Many dream of finding a rare treasure in their grandparents' attic or garage sale antiques worth millions. It doesn't happen every day, but these kinds of champagne dreams do come true. Here are some amazing antiques and collectibles that were purchased for a pittance, or found for free, and sold for huge money.

  • 01 of 05

    Thrift Store Vase Worth a Small Fortune

    Overbeck Vase

    Antiques Roadshow

    A lucky guest visiting "Antiques Roadshow" for a valuation discovered that his thrift store vase was worth a bundle. The piece was purchased at a Goodwill store in Indiana for just $4.99.

    Pottery expert David Rago identified the vase as "a seriously, seriously good piece of Overbeck." He went on to share that the vase was made by Overbeck Pottery of Indiana, a company comprised of four sisters. They marked their pieces OBK, as found on the bottom of this example.

    Rago estimated that the vase would sell for $50,000 to $100,000 at auction, should the owner decide to sell.

  • 02 of 05

    Authentic Declaration of Independence Found in Desk

    Rare Copy of the Declaration of Independence
    Blanchard's Auction Service

    Sometimes the rarest finds are hidden right in your home. As reported by The New York Times, an authenticated copy of the Declaration of Independence was found in a desk belonging to a descendant of colonial settlers from eastern Long Island, New York. 

    This document, referenced as a Holt Broadside, was published in Manhattan by John Holt on July 9, 1776. While 500 copies were distributed, only a handful remain in existence, with this one being the fifth on record.

    The document was sold by Blanchard's Auction Service in Potsdam, New York for $1.5 million in November 2017.

  • 03 of 05

    Bag With Moon Dust Purchased at Auction

    Bag Used to Collect Moon Rocks by Neil Armstrong
    Sotheby's

    Seized asset auctions held by the government can yield some good deals. But when a bag used to collect moon rocks by Neil Armstrong during the first lunar landing in 1969 is the item in question, the deal quickly goes from good to out-of-this-world. 

    After having the bag authenticated by NASA (and suing to get it back from them), Nancy Carlson, a lawyer from Illinois, decided to auction the artifact via Sotheby's. The high-end auction house ended up selling the historic bag, still containing moon dust, for more than $1.8 million. That was quite a nice return on her $955 investment.

  • 04 of 05

    Diamond, Emerald, and Ruby Garage Sale Brooch

    $8 Garage Sale Brooch Sold for $26,000
    Bonhams

    Most pickers would be really happy buying a nice piece of vintage costume jewelry at a garage sale for $8. But when a brooch turns out to be made of precious gems instead of rhinestones, a bargain becomes a bonanza. 

    That's the story behind this c. 1900 pin set with an old mine-cut 1.39 carat diamond, a Colombian emerald weighing in at 1.50 carats and a .60 carat oval Burmese ruby. It was purchased at an Ohio garage sale and forgotten at the bottom of a handbag shortly thereafter. When rediscovered, a jeweler delivered the good news. It brought in the hefty sum of $26,000 at auction

    While many of the other items in the auction sold for much more, the rags to riches story behind this brooch stole the show at the September 2017 auction at Bonhams in New York. “Discoveries like these don’t happen very often so we were delighted to offer this at auction where the actual value of the piece was finally realized,” Susan Abeles, head of jewelry for Bonhams US, told Forbes.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Abandoned Frankenstein Movie Poster

    Frankenstein 1931 Movie Poster
    Heritage Auctions

    Believe it or not, the most valuable Frankenstein movie poster ever sold at public auction was found discarded in a movie theater that closed long ago. It was discovered in the projection booth of a Long Island, New York movie house by a gentleman who worked there when he was a teenager. The poster sold for the whopping sum of $358,000 at a 2015 Heritage Auctions sale in Dallas, Texas, focusing on movie memorabilia

    What made it so valuable? This is the only 6-foot poster from the 1931 film classic known to exist. The Style C three sheet poster was apparently used several times by the theater when the film was re-released and then forgotten to time. Finds like this are rare pieces of Hollywood history, and movie poster collectors relish adding them to their collections when they occasionally come on the market.