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Which Collectibles Should You Keep?

Here’s how to separate your junk from potential treasures

For 21 years now, the PBS series Antiques Roadshow has tantalized Americans with the same question: Is there something in my attic that’s worth a fortune? Recently, a Tiffany lamp purchased in the 1960s for $125 was estimated on the show to be worth up to $300,000. Makes you want to investigate some dusty boxes, doesn’t it?

Don’t expect a windfall, says pop-culture appraiser Simeon Lipman, a regular on the show. “The problem is,” Lipman says, “things like vinyl records, Hummel mugs, 1980s baseball cards, Christmas plates and [most] Beanie Babies were made by the millions — and a lot of people held onto them.” 

We asked experts, including John Brigandi of Brigandi Coins & Collectibles in Manhattan, about what’s hot now and what’s not. As California financial planner Lynn Ballou says, “Collect what you love and love what you collect. As long as you don’t spend more than you can afford buying the stuff, and don’t count on making any money selling it, it is a terrific hobby.”