Did you know that up until the 1950s, pawnshops were the main source of consumer credit in the country? Over the years, the rise of banks and credit cards changed the credit landscape, but these days, pawnshops are making a comeback, as consumers look to sell their prized-possessions in the current economy.
At the family-operated Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, home to the hit reality show "Pawn Stars" on History, business has soared in just the last couple of years. The shop employs more than 50 workers, up from thirteen and foot traffic has gone from 70 to more than 5,000 visitors per day.
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Much of that is, of course, thanks to the popularity of the show, but it's also because consumers are bypassing banks and getting back in the habit of putting up personal possessions for a short-term loan. "There are a lot of weird things you might find in your basement or your attic that may have a lot of value," says Rick Harrison, co-owner of the shop. Whether you're looking to pawn or sell some items for fast cash, Harrison says take note of these common household items, which may have some hidden worth:
An older relative's refillable metal lighter from the 1950s may be worth hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars, says Harrison. "Every guy in the 1950s and 1960s had one. They ended up getting thrown away, but I've literally sold them for thousands of dollars if you have the right one." The highest bids go to Zippo lighters created in 1932, the year the company was founded.
A mass-produced baseball card is not going to get you any high bidders, but an original Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio card that's in good condition has great potential value.
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Archie, Captain America, Batman, Superman. The value of a comic book depends heavily on its age (the older the better), the number of copies in print (the fewer the better), condition and print number (the earlier the printing you own, the more valuable your copy).
Old clocks and other time pieces may have significant value if they're mechanically complex, designed by a well-known clockmaker, are beautiful and still function.
"That hideous jewelry is sometimes made out of gold," says Harrison. And for sellers, that means instant cash. With gold prices soaring more than 20 percent in the past year, it's worth rummaging through your old jewelry boxes and heirloom pieces.
This article is part of a series related to being Financially Fit