How to spot treasures among garage sale junk

Don't Waste Your Money

(WXYZ) - Almost every weekend during the summer, garage sales flourish.

Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff people put out for sale is junk, and a waste or your time and money. But some of it can be hidden treasure. So how do you find a garage sale gem?

We've all heard of yard sale surprises -- like a $5 guitar that turned out to be Jimmy Hendrix's old instrument. While this is a very rare occurrence, there are ways to figure out which yard sale items are worth your money.

Professor Brian Hackett says true antique furniture will have original knobs -- not replacements -- and old-fashioned dovetails in the drawers. True collectibles will be correctly marked. Reproductions are usually worthless.

"You want to be sure they have the proper mark on the bottom," Hackett said.

Antiques seller Amber Ashley says worthless knock offs are everywhere these days.

"Do your research because there's a lot of good reproductions out there," Ashley said.

Hackett and Ashley say clues you may have stumbled upon a hidden treasure include:

-- a signature
-- 1930's art deco anything
-- 1950s or 1960s housewares
-- tin toys
-- any old painting.

Another good tip is to look around to see where it was made. If it reads America or especially Europe, you might have something.  If you see the words "Made in China," then probably not.

To check an item's real value, use your smartphone to search for similar items on eBay. Or visit a local antiques appraiser.

For $8, a website called valuemystuff.com  will let you know if you may have found the real thing -- just send them a photo.            

Experts say more than half of all people holding garage sales have no idea what their items are worth.

So if you take a little time and do some research, you may be able to walk away with a steal, so you don't waste your money.

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