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Sunday, February 11 2024
Antique Hunting in Pawn Shops: Tips for Collectors


When you have some free time, window shopping at pawn shops can be fun. The diversity of items and how many catch your eye is astounding. You may even look at something you never thought was remotely valuable and gasp at the price tag. When you’re looking for unique items, try antique hunting in pawn shops: tips for collectors. Use the same tools as the pros!

Step One: What to Collect?

Maybe even back up one step further, “Why collect?” Sometimes, collections are unintentional (like someone mentioning they like elephants and friends start buying them). Other times, a person has an interest in one genre and sticks with that. And other folks still like to have a variety of intriguing items in their showcases.

What sort of things seem to hold their value and never go out of fashion?


  • Books, specifically first editions: A popular writer, a fantastic cover, and excellent condition. All these contribute to a book’s value. 

  • China sets & pieces: China becomes valuable, in part, because of its fragile nature. One oops, and you could lose thousands of dollars. The good news is sometimes the one-off item is favored over the whole collection.

  • Coins: Antique coins have a large following. The older, the better condition and the rarity add up to money. Coin collecting is not likely to go out of popularity any time soon. 

  • Depression glass: This is nice because it’s relatively affordable. 

  • Furniture: Antiques by Ark’s specializes in antique furniture. But show floor size is limited, so we have a discriminating eye for things that fit our overall ambiance. 

  • Paintings, big and small: Look for original art focused on topics people like and which have signatures. If there’s a story behind them, even better.

  • Stained glass: Stained glass windows without blemishes may surprise you in their value. The difficulty is keeping them safe from cracks and chips.

  • Tableware: That silver set lying untouched in a drawer could end up being quite valuable. Silver flatware with hallmarks on the back proves the piece is not silver-plated. Pick out a pattern and run with it.

  • Timepieces: Rare clocks fetch a pretty penny. Clocks and watches from a specific era, or those created in a recognizable style like Art Deco, often have unanticipated value. 

  • Vintage postcards: These evoke nostalgia. Again, this collection won’t break the bank, but you can find some older ones valued at $150 or more. 


An item must be 100 years old or older comes under the label of being antique, while younger pieces are vintage. 

On the Hunt for Pawn Shop Antiques

No matter what you seek, be it jewelry or milk jugs, there are some protocols to follow. You want to authenticate items and then negotiate their price accordingly. Perhaps the most important rule is self-education. Do your research before setting one foot outside your door. Take notes, and your cellphone if you want to go back to pertinent information.

Pawn Shops rely heavily on their reputation, so they work very hard to authenticate pieces. Nonetheless, knowing value is a big ace in your pocket. Your local antique shop may not have the expertise of a pawn shop’s appraiser. They certainly can’t offer as great a variety as the pawnbroker.

Cash Express and Antiques by Ark’s

Our company takes pride in having one-of-a-kind pieces from all over the world. We would love to help you find that special item to add to your collection. Give us a call to ask about certain collectibles (215-922-1560). You can also email us and use our online contact form. Even if we don’t have what you want now, we can be on look out and let you know.

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Cash Express  • Philadelphia Pawn Shop

731 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106 -  (215) 922-1560