Value in the attic: long-forgotten items could be worth a few bob
A DARK and dusty attic may not be the most welcoming space in your house, but it could be financially worth your while taking a good poke around.
"You are inclined to find old prints, pictures, toys, train sets and, recently, a box of medals hidden up there," said David Herman, managing director of Dublin-based auctioneers Herman Wilkinson.
The firm's auction rooms in Rathmines play host to a popular household auction every Thursday morning, which has been running for almost 90 years. "I never cease to be surprised by what people collect and buy," Mr Herman added.
The firm auctions off entire house contents of all shapes and sizes, from attics to basements, including household items and antiques. The firm also sells individual items, bequests, collectables and unwanted presents.
Online auction site eBay.ie estimates that each Irish household sits on an average of €525 worth of unused items.
Not all of these potential assets will be found in the attic or loft, but the site offers a few ideas about long-forgotten, older or period items you might have up there that could be worth a few bob.
Toys, books and other collectables
For example, old stamps, coins, antique books and toys can be sold on the auction site at prices (in 2009) ranging on average from €36 to €60.
Brian Collins, who runs the Collectibles Toy Fair in Dublin, says there are a variety of ways, not just eBay, to sell old or antique toy items.
"EBay can prove useful, but before you think about placing it on eBay, you should get a professional valuation from a trader," said Mr Collins.
"There's also a yearly price valuation book released by 'Diecast Collector' magazine that might prove useful for certain items. Ebay is popular, but more people are using DoneDeal.ie and other classified websites," he added.
Mr Collins collects railway models, and notes that certain items made by Irish model railway producer, Murphy's Models, are particularly popular.
"It's a simple case of supply and demand and how much the collector is willing to pay to have these models in their collection."
Comics are often to be found loitering in attics, forgotten about for years, but some may be eagerly sought after by the time you stumble upon them.
Not always though. "Comics, like any collectible, are a delicate and varied beast," said Rob Curley, owner of Sub-City Comics in Dublin, one of Ireland's oldest comic shops.
"There are lots of comics worth money but people often think what they have is worth money for the wrong reasons, like how old they are, which is not always an indication of value, unless you're talking pre-60s, then the chances are it will be worth something," he added.
Condition is an important factor, especially with pre-60s comics. "A comic in good-to-mint condition will be worth far more than the same comic in poor-to-fair condition."
Comics featuring the first appearances of popular characters, such as Batman or Superman, often fetch the highest prices, but are exceptionally rare.
Similarly, the death of a character or a significant event in his or her story can add to the value of a comic -- such as the first appearance of Batman's sidekick, Robin.
"British comics like the 'Beano' or 'Dandy' are more collectible as a full run over a year rather than just one or two copies, but this rule doesn't apply to American comics," said Mr Curley, who also writes his own comics, such as 'Freak Show' and 'Roisin Dubh'.
Vinyl records appear to be enjoying something of a comeback, with new vinyl sales apparently on an upward curve.
Vinyl advocates insist that it sounds far better than digital music, such as a CD or a download from the internet.
Whether this makes old vinyl records more valuable is not altogether clear, but it does show that the vinyl format is enduring against all odds.
If you have old collections to get rid off or value, one route is to check out established record fairs such as those organised by Irish Record Fairs in Dublin, or Record Fairs Ireland, which hosts a number of events around the country.
If you want the most accurate indication of how much a record might be worth before you look for a buyer, well-known UK magazine 'Record Collector' publishes the 'Rare Record Price Guide' which it updates in a new edition every year.
This 1,400-page publication contains more than 100,000 entries on all records dating from 1950 to the present.
The 2010 edition is available to buy from the publishers for £34 (€40).