How To Find Antiques & Valuables In Your Home

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Your home is your castle, but it may be a treasure trove, too. Unusual and unexpected objects, antiques and collectibles may be lurking behind your walls and even in plain sight. Let's explore some of the most likely place on your property that may be candidates for hidden or forgotten treasure. This is real, folks. The penny that fell through the cracks in the back in 1820 may be the key to a comfy retirement -- who knows?

Treasures in Plain Sight

Antique doorknobs, picture frames, light fixtures and other architectural or decorative elements from old houses fetch good prices at auction. If you, your parents or your grandparents live in a home that's 50 years old or older, the original fixtures could be worth something. You can usually get a professional appraisal free of charge, so grab the brass polish and start looking at those ancient amenities in a new light. What you once though was outdated could actually be the nicest item in your home.

Where To Look For Valuable Antiques & Collectibles

Yes, the furnishings in your home and even items you find at garage sales or auctions can conceal hidden treasure. Here are some things to look for:

  • Some people store cash inside couch cushions or even inside hollowed out wooden armrests or chair legs.
  • If you're exploring the local garage sale, it doesn't hurt to evaluate items with their potential for hidden treasure in mind. At least check behind and under the cushions for things like change, watches and jewelry.
  • An antique gold ring may be trapped in the seam between a chair seat and side panel, or have fallen into a couch lining.
  • While you're at it, check behind picture frames and mirrors. It's prime real estate for hiding cash.
find antiques valuables at home find antiques valuables at home

Outside

Periodically in the press there's a human interest story about how a lucky homeowner found a lost wedding ring or cache of confederate bills in a fence post or in the vegetable patch. Finding valuable items outside in nature is so common it's almost a cliché. You don't need a metal detector to get started on an outdoor treasure hunt. Here are some productive places to explore:

  • In Postholes - During the Great Depression that started with the 1929 stock market crash, people lost faith in banks and many families began burying their savings in fence post holes.
  • Near trees - The large oak tree in your backyard is quite a landmark, and someone may have thought he'd be able to store his coins or valuables near (or in) it. The only problem is he may never have told his relatives about his makeshift banking system.
  • In outhouses - Gramps was pretty smart. He knew no one would look for his stash in the outhouse. That's one reason why you should look around in there before you leave it to the dust and spiders. Try the foundations and be sure to poke around in the rafters. We suggest that you wear sturdy rubber gloves.
  • Under paving stones and walkways - Money and valuables were often secreted for long periods in hard to reach spots. The idea was that robbers wouldn't go to the trouble of lifting heavy stones or digging up walkways on the slight chance of finding something worth stealing.
  • In the barn - Many barns have open space under the flooring where all manner of things could have fallen or have been hidden intentionally.
  • Under bridges and docks - Trolls aren't the only things that like to hang out under bridges. Think of it this way: where there's an outdoor landmark with staying power (like a stone wall, well or bridge), there’s a good hiding place.

In Closets, Attics and Basements

Low trafficked areas are prime candidates for hidden cubbyholes and even secret rooms:

  • Follow the pipes - Faux pipes fitted into basements and attics may really be makeshift banks used to hide valuables. Just because something looks like simple plumbing doesn't mean it is.
  • Check the sub-flooring - In older homes, the flooring in attics and closets may actually hide trap doors with cavities designed to store valuables.
  • Scan the ceiling joists - Basement ceiling joists are another great place to look for hidden jewelry, coins and even important papers.
  • Evaluate the walls - Behind that plaster or drywall in most homes are gaps big enough to conceal a cache of money or valuables. Be on the lookout for rough patches, seams and discoloration in walls.

In Personal Keepsakes

People hide money and valuables in their homes, and they even conceal them on their person or inside personal items. The next time you hit the thrift store check:

  • Under shoe inserts
  • In hollowed out shoe heels
  • In books (stuck between pages)
  • In coat linings (cash will often crackle)
  • Inside pant, dress and coat hems (It's a great place to find coins and jewelry.)

Finding hidden valuables and antiques around your home and yard will take some effort, but it can certainly be worth it. Jewelry, coins, papers and documents from decades or even centuries past may be lurking in your home’s walls, furniture, fences or pipes. Be careful when disassembling anything in your home, and be sure not to damage walls or pipes if do decide to check inside and behind them.

Last Updated: February 1, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like DiscoveryHealth.com, HowStuffWorks.com, Savvi.com and TLC.com.

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