Uncover Hidden Treasures - 3 Vintage Gems Lurking in Your Home


With three decades of experience in reselling, I've become the person my friends turn to for speedy appraisals. Throughout the years, I've observed a consistent trend: the items that most people assume are valuable from the past often aren't, while the ones they consider discarding turn out to be sought-after collectibles.

The reason behind this is that our perception of value is often influenced by our parents. However, markets evolve, and new collectors have different preferences.

Ever wondered about the hidden treasures in your home right now? The revelations might be unexpected. Join me in this series as we uncover overlooked collectibles that could already be in your possession.

1. COOGI sweaters
In the flashy 1990s, men's fashion embraced eye-catching, brightly colored sweaters, and one standout brand, COOGI from Australia, completely redefined color norms. These sweaters boasted 10 to 15 vibrant hues woven into intricate, textured abstract patterns.

While these sweaters may seem a bit cringe-worthy by today's standards, millennials and fashion influencers are bringing COOGI back into style. Guys, it's time to raid your closets for that 'date sweater' from your bachelor days. (Hint: Just follow the lingering scent of Drakkar Noir.)

Vintage COOGI pieces in good condition can fetch hundreds of dollars. A recent sale on eBay saw an animal-themed COOGI sweater go for $600, and a technicolor COOGI cardigan sold for $400.

The iconic logo typically features "COOGI" in multicolored capital letters against a black or white backdrop. Directly below the logo, you'll find "Australia" followed by the material content, usually 100% mercerized cotton or 100% pure new wool.

2. Fiber art by Don Freedman
Back in the 1970s, every beach-side bungalow boasted a Don Freedman weaving on its walls. Freedman crafted sizable, hand-woven fiber art pieces using jute, wool, cotton, and beads, setting them apart from the typical macramé handicrafts of the era.

Unfortunately, there's limited biographical information available about Freedman. Born in 1937, he seemed most active during the 1970s through the early '80s. The renewed interest in fiber art in today's home decor, as seen in popular stores like Target and West Elm, can be credited in part to Freedman's pioneering work.

Wondering if you have an authentic Freedman piece? Keep an eye out for a small terra cotta "button" (about the size of a half-dollar) stamped with "DF." Usually, this maker's mark is woven into the body of the piece or attached to the back.

While all Freedman pieces sell well, collectors especially favor larger weavings. Recently, a 37" x 53" Freedman piece fetched $275 on eBay, and an owl-inspired 37" x 62" creation is listed for a noteworthy $1,100 on Etsy.

3. Bookends by JENFRED
Let's wrap up this month's hotlist by talking about something truly unique—bookends. Back in the late 1950s and early '60s, industrial designer Ben Seibel crafted decor pieces for a company called JENFRED.

Despite the scarcity of documented historical details about JENFRED and minimal biographical information on Ben Seibel, his design brilliance is widely recognized in collecting circles.

Seibel's bookends typically featured brass or aluminum construction, sometimes accented with leather. The designs were minimalist, futuristic, and organic—a significant departure from traditional figurative bookends. Today, collectors eagerly acquire them as accent pieces for authentically midcentury-modern interiors.

On eBay, a recently sold pair of brass bookends with leather trim went for $375, and a ladder-shaped copper set is currently listed for $575.

While identifying these pieces can be a challenge, keep an eye out for the stamp "JENFRED WARE" on the metal or check for paper labels referring to JENFRED or Raymor (a well-known provider of distinctive home decor pieces).

Tastes change — temporarily
With time, everything old becomes cool again. All the items we've talked about endured a phase when they were seriously out of style. Each rode a wave of disapproval for years, only to return more fashionable than ever.

So, remember to value objects for their inherent charm rather than how well they align with today's trends. Keep what you love.

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