Turning antiques into cash: What you need to know first

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The warmer months are upon us and many will be tackling those Spring Cleaning projects. So as you begin to dig through those attics, closets, and storage facilities experts say it's the perfect time to take inventory of what you have and cash in on what you don't need.

It's a tedious job, but someone's got to do it. Professional organizer Julie Hibbs is helping a family that moved away from Houston years ago by taking inventory of their storage unit.

"When her elderly mother moved to be closer to another sister, they put some stuff in storage for her," said Hibbs.

And the family is curious: what's in there?

"We all think everything from grandma's house or our parents' house is valuable," said Hibbs.

But that's not always the case.

"So it's kind of neat to go back and see these things and everyone says oh, the china for sure my parents spent lots of money on it. Really in today's market it doesn't sell," said Hibbs.

"Just because it's been in storage doesn't mean it's valuable," said Pamela Wright with Wright's Pawn and Jewelry.

Wright adds if you want to find out the true value of something, take it to the right appraiser.

"Take it to someone who deals with that type of merchandise," said Wright.

Hibbs says there were a few things in storage that caught her eye.

"We found this one in the storage unit. And I really thought it was a library step stool, or something like that. And when I went to move it, surprise, when I opened it, yes surprise it's actually an old commode. But is that something that's valuable?" asked Hibbs.

"It does have value. It's not rare. There are several of these on the market and the highest beds in use today, a lot of people use them for their pets to get up on their beds. So it's worth about $200" answered Wright.

Something else that caught Hibb's attention were these boxes labeled "rare books."

"Some of these I touch, even the color comes off on my fingers. Again, don't know anything about them," said Hibbs.

Wright says book collecting is more of an art form. If you have a complete collection, they could go for a lot more depending on the condition.

"We noticed there were some that had 8 volumes. Rise and Fall, the Roman Empire. That set retail value would be around $400," said Wright.

With oil paintings, many believe it's the artist that determines the value. But that's not always the case.

"This painting has a few issues with crazing but it has great flow of color," said Wright.

Humidity and heat are enemies of art. But as long as they're stored in cool dry places, there shouldn't be any issues with deterioration. This still life painted by local artist, David Adickes, is in great condition according to Wright.

"We'd like to offer your client $1,300," said Wright."

So how do you know if you have something of value? If it's old it could be worth a lot, the key is finding an expert. Here are links to Houston and National appraisers to help you see if the trash is a treasure:

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