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Wonder what the junk in your closet is worth? Our writer got a crash course from "Pawn Stars"'s Rick Harrison... and found out just how much money she's sitting on.

My mother always says that she's going to leave all of her possessions to my brother when she dies, because she knows that I'll sell everything once she's out of the picture.

Look: Sentimentality isn't my strong suit. I prefer new to old and money to no money, thanks. I'm not one of those people who think that whatever it is inside that old hope chest is going to get me so rich that I'll be able to dive into a pile of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck in the "Duck Tales" opener.

But I took the opportunity to enlist the expert help of Rick Harrison from The History Channel's smash hit show "Pawn Stars". He knows all about finding hidden gems -- from the inventory in his Las Vegas pawn shop to the show itself.

pawn-starsCourtesy of The History Channel

"I pitched "Pawn Stars" out for four years," says Harrison. "Everyone told me that no one wants to see a show about four fat guys in a pawn shop."

Now they're the number one show on cable. You just never know.

So, I sent some old junk I found in my parents' house to get Harrison's expert opinion as to whether or not I can quit my job and spend the rest of my days laying on my couch and keeping up with the Kardashians (it's a full time job in itself, really).

Here's what I found...,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=997770&pid=997769&uts=1303855522

What Treasures are Hiding in Your Closet?

Remember when cameras had film? Yeah, me either. But apparently, they did. This movie camera probably documented countless family memories, but who cares? I know what those jerks looked like. My genius brain stores all the documentation I need (there's no "off" switch).

"This is a mass-produced camera," says Harrison. "They probably produced millions of them so it's not really that valuable."

Think about it like this: if it's something that was inexpensive and accessible to the masses, it's probably not going to be worth anything.

"Other cameras from the 1960s, like an original Nikon that's in really good shape can be worth up to $2,000," says Harrison. "But something like this isn't going to get you very far."

What Treasures are Hiding in Your Closet?

So you're sitting on the couch, eating your feelings in the form of a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and you see a commercial for something that is "valuable," "priceless," and "collectible." Limited time order, they say. Buy now, they urge. Only 42 easy payments of $19.99, they promise. Put down the phone. This junk isn't going to be worth anything, ever.

"When you buy something that's already deemed a collectible when it's brand-new, it's never going to be worth anything," says Harrison. "It's the things that people never thought would end up being worth money that end up being the most valuable. I've sold Zippo lighters for over $3,000 and people carry those around in their pockets every day."

The lesson here? You should always be skeptical when someone shouts from the rooftops how rare and collectible an item is, especially when it's on a TV commercial on Lifetime at 2AM.

If only my grandfather had known this when he bought this sculpture. And the 30 or so other ones we have lying around the house.

What a financial wizard he was.

What Treasures are Hiding in Your Closet?

When looking for antiques, remember this: just because something is old doesn't mean it's valuable. Need an example? Take a look at Joan Rivers.

"I have three billion-year-old rocks in my backyard, but no one's willing to buy them off of me," Harrison laughs.

In other words: don't make assumptions.

The pupils in my eyes had already turned to dollar signs when we unearthed this old phone from our crawl space. This thing doesn't even have buttons! It looks like something that would be in an old Western movie, or at least in a restaurant that's trying to manufacture old-school charm.

I will be rolling in dough, like a baker (is that an expression? It should be).


"These types of things aren't worth as much as you would think," says Harrison. "They're definitely collectible, but you have to remember that every house had one, so they're not that rare."

What Treasures are Hiding in Your Closet?

The word "rare" isn't always synonymous with "big money." Your weird cousin might collect unusual bocce balls, but just because something is rare or strange doesn't automatically mean it's worth anything.

"I'm sure dinosaurs turds are pretty rare, but I don't imagine that they're worth a lot," laughs Harrison.

This cash register was stationed on the bar in my grandparents' restaurant for years. "They would call this a candy store cash register, because the highest amount on here is $1," says Harrison.

Because it's functioning, in good shape, easy to clean up, and in relatively high demand, my ship has finally come in.


What Treasures are Hiding in Your Closet?

Total value: $1,720

But out of four old, seemingly rare items that I dug up, only one was worth the effort involved to drag them out of the basement.

Harrison says that this is something that happens all of the time.

"People always seem to think that grandma's wedding ring has a perfect diamond in it," says Harrison. "When I tell them it's not, they get mad at me. I have to say to them, 'I'm sorry your grandpa was cheap,'" laughs Harrison.

Is this really all that surprising? Unrealistic expectations make the world go 'round.

Moral of the story? I'm not getting rich any time soon.

By Amanda Waas

Not ready to get rid of your old things? Try repurposing! Check out...
Bright Idea: New Uses For An Old Ladder

New Uses for Old Kitchen Cabinets

Give Old Books New Life

  • rosie

    I am not big on so called reality shows but I do get a kick out of Pawnstars. The old man is too funny! I'll tell you one thing, I used to freak out everytime my hubby went to yard sales or auctions. The stuff he would bring home drove me crazy! Because of Pawnstars I can now just laugh it all off. Funny show! I love seeing people who think what they find is going to make them rich! In their dreams! If you are married to a collector, watch Pawnstars. It will make you see the humor in just life.

  • Shorty

    ok - so I take my 'precious' article into the Pawn Stars shop and tell them I want to sell it. They look it over and call in their expert appraiser who proceeds to tell me and them that it would probably bring a tidy sum on the open market. They offer me next to nothing cuz they need to make a profit (understood). My question here is - if you now have it appraised and know somewhat of its real value, why oh why do you 'settle' for what they offer you?? Go onto the web and search for groups that deal in what you are trying to sell (Civil War memorabelia, autographs, old guns, old anything). There is a market out there - you just need to go find it! You get your best price (cuz you've had it appraised) and you take them out of the equation. Money is all yours. Walk away, contact the appraiser and have a certified appraisel done and you now have a lot more cash money in your pocket - not theirs.

  • BTDT

    I love this show.

  • gwilkes2

    I can show them a house that def has a half million dollars worh in is, she wont let me touch it........I get with you guys in the future........

  • bongo870

    Got to love when people say they are scamming people or robbing them. No one is making these people sell there goods. useually the people who dont get what they want for there crap are useually the ones who will rip on these guys.

  • bill


  • bill



    I was a Pawnbroker for over 30 years and can swear to this "New Junk only become Old Junk with age"

  • shannon

    Hate much?

  • wurstnitemare

    Hate Much??
    Well, actualy i kant stand peeple that donn no haw to spell, perverts, liars, scumbags that take advantage of others that are ignorant of the value of what they own, pompus asses, people that make believe they are able to analyse without personal or acquired knowledge of a person or subject and then make assesments based on limited knowledge.
    I don't know whether "Hate Much" is supposed to be a metaphor for an evaluation that is supposed to question my mental status or an agreement that these phonies will soon meet their "comeuppance". Hope they aren't related to you and got your feelings hurt. I will agree that i have a rather "dark humor". i'm old enough that it really doesn't matter (won't matter really).

  • CAV44

    I kind of liked the show until they aired the episode about the unfinished Shelby Cobra brought in on a flatbed truck. That was the phoniest bunch of Bulls**t I've ever seen. Anyone who bought that load of crap will buy anything. I've never watched it since.

  • CAV44

    By the way, when I said "Anyone who bought that load of crap would buy anything" I was refering to the believability of the story, not the Cobra. The Cobra was awesome, the story was fictional BS!


    I have a friend who always complains they are ripping the people off. "The expert said it was worth $5,000 and they only offered $2,000, I would demand the whole amount." Look man, this is a business, they have to resell the item and they have to make a profit. Do they low ball sometimes? sure, especially the old man but that is business. The car dealers are the same way and so are many others in the business of buying and re-selling, you have to make money. On the flip side, I have never bought a friendship, engagement or wedding ring at a jeweler, I lalways go to a pawn shop. Why give Jared or Kay jeweler the mark up? Save yourself $1,000 and go to a pawn shop. But always get it appraised if you are buying a carat or more. My wife has a very nice 1 carat we got for a nice price, almost 1/4 of what the name jewelers wanted.

  • CAV44

    Generally speaking, when someone comes to you to buy something, it's a sellers market. When you take something to someone to sell, it's a buyers market. If you're peddling something to someone unsolicited, you get what you get.

  • Wolfman

    We went to Las Vegas last year and stoped off at the Pawn Stars Shop the place was packed with looki lous and we had to wait outside in file and wait our turn to get in. When we got in there the prices on some items were a lot more than on TV

  • Sal

    It is called wholesale and retail. If they bought sometime valued at $ 5.00 and sold it for $ 5.00 how would they pay themselves, overhead, taxes, security. I just like when people who know nothing about running a business or know what a P & L is, run off with their mouths.

  • maribeth

    We watch the show and like it. THERE IS NOTHING ON TV worth watching. We waste $100 a month for cable. Talk about scams!!!

  • David K

    PAWN STARS is unique because CHUMLEE (the rolly polly one) got Bob Dylan to sign a record album, HAPPILY. LOL. That had to be a Stunt. There is no way BOB would be SEEN wandering around Las vegas in the daaylight with no security all over him. He does NOT like personal encounters for autographs. Everyone knows that. Rumour is, BOB wanted something of great value from the Civil War that the Pawn Stars were pawning./ I guess Bob got it..FOR FREE LOL.

    On the other hand, an early episode of Pawn Stars had RICK taking an old woman who had an authentic signed record by HANK WILLIAMS for around 300,.00. I beleive a real, authenticated Hank Williams signed record album, in exc ellent condition would go for maybe 20 times what RIck paid. Maybe MORE.

    CHUMLEE--email me--I WANT the DYLAN signed album..LOL

  • David K

    John Lennon was right..Imagine no possessions.. can;t take it with you when you die

  • jp

    Take a close look at the picture. Go to vagas and try to find a "Four Kings Hotel". Ummm, i think not.

  • 21 Comments / 2 Pages

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