Why your junk could pay your debt

2017-04-04 17:07

You may want to take another look at granny’s old furniture that you’ve been storing in the attic or garage. Last year, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported on how a couple bought a dusty old chair for £5 (R80 at today’s exchange rate) and found £5 000 hidden inside it.

While your chances of finding antique jewellery hidden in granny’s old furniture are slim, you may find that the furniture itself gives you a financial windfall.

Sophie-Louise Fröhlich, office manager of Stephan Welz & Co in Cape Town, says: “What has consistently performed well is Cape furniture – old chairs that have been kept in families for generations. They’re popular because they are functional and have held their value compared with old Victorian furniture.”

According to Claire Cobbledick, head of Gumtree Connect, your grandparents’ old Imbuia furniture is also back in vogue.

“Imbuia was originally imported as a cheap alternative to stinkwood. These days, your old Imbuia dresser can easily fetch R5 000 on Gumtree – the ball-and-claw furniture is especially popular among upcyclists, who love sanding down Imbuia furniture and painting it in funky hues for resale.”

There are other items that could turn out to be valuable and give you that relief you need to pay off your debt or pay for other essentials, such as school fees or that service on your car.

These include the following:

Antique rings: David Stockenstroom, buyer and manager of Kay’s Antiques, says that some of his biggest sellers are good antique rings.

“People still want classic Victorian rings for engagement rings. They are so rare now and people collect them.”

Vintage toys: Do you remember the toys that you grew up with? Well, they could be sought-after collector’s items now.

“Ninja Turtle figurines, for example, can sell for up to R300. Vintage video games in working condition can sell for up to R1 500, and old Fisher-Price toys [such as the iconic Fisher-Price phone] can sell for about R500,” says Cobbledick.

LP records: Hipsters have brought the vinyl record back, and there is a high demand for unscratched LP records. According to Gumtree, a box of LPs sold for R200 five years ago. Now, you can expect to pay R200 to R400 for one popular vinyl record.

Vintage clothing: Hats and jackets from the 1950s, glamorous pantsuits from the 1970s and any form of vintage brooch or hair accessory is popular on Gumtree, says Cobbledick.

They sell from R200 to R500 per item.

Aga stoves: “Once upon a time, every house had an Aga stove – and many homeowners threw theirs away in favour of gas or electric versions. They are sorry now – Aga stoves are selling for a whopping R100 000 on Gumtree,” says Cobbledick.

Silverware: Stockenstroom says old silverware may look like rubbish, but may also be sought after.

“People may think it’s not real, but it could be worth something – and silverware is still being bought.”


The best way to find out if an item you have stored away could be worth something is to have it evaluated by a professional.

“You can contact the auction house you want to deal with and send them a picture of the item. Tell them what you think it is and take pictures of any noticeable markings, such as signatures. If we think it’s of value, we’ll do a house visit and find out more about where the item comes from,” says Fröhlich.

But the best way to get an immediate valuation is to take the item in.

Stockenstroom says: “Don’t just look on the internet and then think that the item has some value. Get a professional evaluation. It’s always easier to make an assessment of items that you can see and touch.”


If you are strapped for cash, don’t feel bad about selling items that have been in the family for generations – unless, of course, you use the money to buy frivolous things.

“Jewellery was always bought in those days as an investment, so I am sure that, if you needed the money, your ancestors would not frown upon you if you sold it,” says Stockenstroom.

Tough times can also call for tough measures.

Karla Levick, head of marketing for OLX, says: “We live in a material world and recent reports from financial and academic institutions [such as the Unilever Institute Aspirations Report] show that consumers are more cash-strapped than previous generations.

“The current financial situation is forcing South Africans to become creative in how they make their salaries stretch. Buying less is the obvious solution, but selling your unwanted items or buying second hand is probably the easiest way to save money.”

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March 17 2019