Keepsakes and collectibles: Are you sitting on a small fortune?

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - From old toys and keepsakes to furniture that's been in your family for generations, you could be sitting on a small fortune. But how can you tell trash from treasure and find out what your items are actually worth?

Viewer Jeannie Boyd emailed consumer expert Amy Davis to help figure out how much her Coca-Cola collection is worth. 

"All above my cabinets is just oodles of Coca Cola stuff," Boyd told Davis. "I've even boxed some of it up and it's in my closet because I didn't have any more room." 

Almost everything in her collection was given to her from friends and neighbors over the last 25 years. Now Boyd would like her house back.

"I would like to keep a few, but most of it I want to get rid of," she explained.  

Boyd hauled just a handful of items from her collection to The Antique Gallery of Houston near I-45 and FM 2920, where antique dealer George Colonna looked them over. 

"The condition you have them in the original box, not even a tear in the box," Colonna said, assessing a pair of Coca-Cola Barbie dolls. 

Colonna has some twenty years in the business as an antique dealer, but he says you can get an idea if what you own is worth anything by asking yourself a few questions.  

"What the serious collector, serious decorator should do is differentiate between a trend and a quality item," Colonna cautioned.  

The once hugely popular Ty Beanie Babies, for example, was a trend. Coca-Ccola, on the other hand, is a piece of history ... Americana. Colonna appraised the 10 pieces Boyd brought in at about $1,500 total. 

"I'm excited," said Boyd.

Ornaments that originally cost $6 or $7 are now worth $25 or $30. Boyd's most valuable item is a set of 12 Coca-Cola plates she received from a friend who rescued them from a landfill.

"They came out of a dumpster," she said. 

Other factors that will determine the value of what you may want to sell: How many others are there? And what will people pay?

You can post your item for sale on eBay to get an idea. You can also sell it to a dealer who will resell it.

"You'll only get a percentage," explained Colonna. "Sometimes as high as 50 or 60% of full market value when selling to a dealer." 

As for Boyd, she's going to hold out.

"A few of them I would like to keep for a few more years to see if their value goes up," she said.  

The Antique Gallery of Houston has appraisal fairs twice a year where you can bring your items and find out the value of them for just $5. The next fair will be in October. They also allow you to bring pictures of things you might like to sell and post them on their bulletin board. If shoppers or a dealer sees it and is interested, they will call you. 

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