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What's It Worth?

Is any of that junk in your attic worth some money? How do you sort the trash from the treasure? CBS News Saturday Morning continues its series with collectibles expert Tony Hyman. For his latest segment, Hyman has a tip on collectibles made of Bakelite, the first mass-produced plastic. And, he answers viewers' questions about items that could be worth some quick cash.

'Cheap' Jewelry Worth $$$
"Bakelite" was the first modern industrial plastic. Developed around 1910, it was used to make brightly colored everyday items like knife handles, salt shakers, buttons and jewelry.

From Sears to Saks, everyone sold Bakelite jewelry in the 1920s and '30s. Prices ranged from a few cents to a few dollars for pins made by Chanel and other designers.

By the 50s, Bakelite was no longer being made, and its jewelry languished in secondhand stores for pennies.

Today, Hyman says, "The prices have skyrocketed." A pin that sold for 79 cents now could be worth $300 to $500. An elaborate necklace with matching brooch and bracelet could bring up to $3,000.

The complexity of design and rarity of the pattern determine the value. Single color bangles can cost less than $20, but heavily carved or polka-dotted ones sell for hundreds.

For information on Bakelite, Hyman recommends experts Dee Battle, author of The Best of Bakelite (email address: and Arnold Reamer (email address:

CBS News Saturday Morning viewer Elsie DeLucia from Titusville, New Jersey, brought in a bowl and cup set decorated with Disney cartoon characters and the alphabet, printed around the plate.
Hyman said eight versions of such sets were made in Bavaria from 1930 to 1935. Two of the versions are worth more because the letters of the alphabet were misprinted and appear out of order on the plate. DeLucia's set has the misprinted letters, and Hyman said that could get her a quick $500.
Lincoln For President
Viewer Gail Korneliusen, of Webster, New York, showed Hyman an Abraham Lincoln campaign pin with a photograph of Lincoln on it.
Hyman said the pin is from the 1864 campaign, which was only the second campaign to use photographs. That makes the item of the interest not only o those who collect campaign memorabilia, but also to those who collect photographs and Lincoln collectibles.

After conferring with experts in all three fields, Hyman concluded the pin is worth $1,500 to $2,000.

For more on the political buttons, Hyman recommends expert Ted Hake, author of the Encyclopedia of Political Buttons. His email address is

And, go to Tony Hyman's Web site for more information on collectibles.

Previous CBS News Saturday Morning segments with collectibles expert Tony Hyman are available in the collectibles archive.

(Editor's note: the sites listed are for informational purposes and not intended as an endorsement of those sites.)

If you think you have a collectible worth a lot of cash, send an email to: Put "What's it Worth?" in the subject line, or write to: "What's it Worth?" CBS News Saturday Morning, 514 West 57th Street, 6th floor, New York, New York 10019.

Please note that because of the volume of mail received, Saturday Morning can't respond to all requests, but some will be selected and featured on the show in the near future.

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