By Lynn Andriani
You could uncover a boatload of money in what may be the least-used space in your home -- and you don't even have to part with your grandmother's candlesticks.
Chinoiserie Accessories And Furniture
Chinoiserie, with its Asian imagery of intricate pagodas and monkeys-in-costume, first became popular in the late 19th century, and Jim "Griff" Griffith, <a href="http://www.ebay.com/" target="_blank">eBay</a>'s senior manager of seller strategy, says there's been an interest off and on since then -- "its popularity has never really waned." Wooden trinket boxes, china cabinets and mirrors are some of the most common Chinoiserie items, <a href="http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/ideas/home-decorating-trends-2013-1212#SLIDE-1" target="_blank">as are lamps</a>, especially in blue and white, which can fetch between $90 and $350. (Some of the most prized Chinoiserie items aren't actually from China or Japan, Griffith says; pieces made in England or the U.S. can be even more valuable.)
Monopoly And Other Games
Little has changed on a Monopoly board in the past 50 years (Baltic Avenue is still cheap; Boardwalk is still the lap of luxury) but an old edition of the game can be worth more than 20 times what a brand-new one is -- for example, a 1946 set was recently selling for $400 on eBay. Griffith says in the past 10 years, interest in vintage games has really taken off. He credits the renewed interest in mid-century modern decor, noting that people are even decorating their living rooms with game boards and playing pieces. Other potential gold mines hiding in your cabinets: wooden puzzles; vintage playing cards; and backgammon, chess and mahjong, notably those with pieces made of Bakelite, an early plastic (<a href="http://www.ebay.com/gds/Bakelite-How-Do-I-Know-Whats-Real-or-Fake/10000000001899022/g.html" target="_blank">here's how to tell real from fake Bakelite</a>).
Models of the world don't have to be that old to interest collectors -- there are 1960s models on eBay with bids around $100. The only caveat: Buyers are mainly interested in globes from major makers such as Rand McNally, George F. Cram Co. and Replogle. <a href="http://www.replogleglobes.com/howOldIsYourGlobe.php" target="_blank">This chart will help you determine your piece's age</a> -- for instance, if you see the former name Siam (and not the new name Thailand), the globe could be pre-1939.
Although inexpensive versions of these textbook-like engravings of flowers, fruits and vegetables abound, the real deal -- that is, ones painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté or Basilius (Basil) Besler -- can be extremely valuable. But, says Griffith, only if they're in good condition (i.e., not ripped or washed out). Griffith, who previously worked in the antiques market, says botanical prints were always the one thing he and his colleagues were guaranteed to find at every estate sale -- "and we were always able to resell them." For instance, a set of two framed floral prints by Redouté, known for his masterful technique of painting roses (he used dots, not lines), currently has bids over $200 on eBay.
It's possible that the frame around an artwork in your living room is more of a masterpiece than the art itself -- but again, only if it's in mint condition. Griffith says collectors are interested in vintage frames, often to recycle them as mirrors. One sought-after design, he says, is American Eastlake, known for lacquered wood and corner decorations. Small frames in very good condition go for around $50 and large ones can sell for more than $400. <strong>Next: <a href="http://www.oprah.com/money/Dining-Room-Items-Worth-More-Than-You-Think-How-to-Sell-China" target="_blank">Find $1,230 in your dining room</a></strong>