Small change to small fortune – how car boot sales can prove lucrative

One case highlighted a diamond ring which was bought for £10 in the 1980s at a car boot sale in Isleworth, London. The owner believed it was simply a piece of costume jewellery, mainly due to the fact that it was cut in an older style and therefore didn’t sparkle in the same way as modern diamonds and had worn it daily since buying it. However, once it had been identified as a genuine 26 carat gemstone, the diamond was expected to make £350,000 at auction and eventually sold for almost double that amount – £650,000 – at Sotheby’s.

Another car boot purchase for just £10 was a Chinese floral vase. The buyer initially put it on eBay, but when they received bids up to £10,000 they decided to withdraw it from the internet auction site to seek a professional opinion on the piece. It turned out to be a rare enamel vase made in the 18th Century and was given a guide price of £30,000. When it finally went under the hammer, it made over twice as much, selling for £61,000.

A cartoon by British artist HM Bateman was another car boot find which ended up making a sizeable profit, but only after sitting under the buyer’s bed for two years. The frame became broken when they moved house, so instead of repairing it, the buyer simply stored it away. When they finally rediscovered it and researched just who it was drawn by, it was eventually given an estimated auction value of between £500 and £800, eventually selling for £1,100. Not bad for a picture originally bought for £2!

So, whilst it’s not a good idea to place all your financial plans on making your fortune selling a long lost antique purchased for a few quid, maybe sifting through trestle tables on a Sunday morning is more worthwhile than you might initially think.