Find $1,230 in Your Dining Room
This little-used room isn't just a trove of silver trays and cut crystal: Plenty of less obvious items are worth way more than you'd think.
Milk Glass Cake Stands
Consider it a ripple effect of the cupcake craze: Pastel-hued or white glass pedestals for cakes and other baked goods are some of the most sought-after retro items hiding in your china cabinet. Milk glass, which is opaque, generally isn't as valuable as crystal, but if it has a well-known manufacturer's name on the bottom (look for Duncan, Fenton, L.E. Smith or Westmoreland), it could be worth anywhere from $50 to $400.
When it comes to table toppers, Marghab is the name that trumps all; it refers to linens that are handmade on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Tablecloths, placemats and napkins from the '60s with the Marghab name are always in demand; a recent set of 10 napkins attracted bids of more than $200 on eBay. Jim "Griff" Griffith, eBay
's senior manager of seller strategy, also says table linens from the Finnish design company Marimekko, known for its bright prints, are back in vogue.
Mad Men-esque Plates and Glasses
Anything reminiscent of the late '50s-early '60s, along with all things midcentury modern, are at the top of the list for shoppers who are looking to stock their first apartments or homes, says Griffith. When it comes to dinnerware and glassware, pieces from Dorothy Thorpe (whose Roly Poly glasses with a silver rim are again popular, thanks to Don Draper), Russel Wright, Winfield, Red Wing, Style House, Thomas Rosenthal, Melmac and Fiestaware are in demand (for instance, a set of eight Dorothy Thorpe glasses goes for around $26). Even if you're trying to sell generic china or glassware, if it has that midcentury look (think Scandinavian simplicity), you'll find a buyer. It doesn't even have to be a full set: Lisa Conklin, public relations manager at Replacements, Ltd.
, says people are not hung up on making sure all their glasses or plates coordinate; she's been seeing more customers than ever updating their tables by combining old and new patterns.
Despite the waning popularity of formal dining rooms, mirrored buffet tables and sideboards (basically, furniture that has display space on top and a closed bottom) are in. Designers love pieces that have both mirrors and wood
; they play off each other and have a vintage quality—even if they aren't more than a few years old (we found a new wood-and-mirror mini cupboard on eBay for $289).
Vintage Cocktail Shakers
Whether silver and sleek, or tiki-style, barware is hot—and the great news is that in this category, style trumps brand name. Griffith says there were few mass-produced cocktail sets from known manufacturers in the '50s and '60s, so as long as your piece—whether it's a cocktail shaker, strainer, mixing spoon or jigger—looks vintage, it's worth something. "Atomic" and "rocket" styles are especially trendy right now (in silver); they sell for $30 to $40.
A Dining Chair
These days, people are mixing furniture styles, fabrics and finishes
—which means there's probably someone out there who'd love just one or two of your wooden chairs with the upholstered seats (so you can keep the rest and mix in some new chairs yourself). If they're painted white, even better: the light color makes them look modern. A set of two can fetch around $275.
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