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Your Old Family Quilts Could Be Worth Big Bucks

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Quilts are one of those things that families like to pass down through generations. You probably have one sitting in your linen closet right now that’s been around for decades, maybe even a century or more. If you happen to have an especially old one that has remained in good condition, you might also have a goldmine on your hands.

A quick scroll through options for sale on eBay shows prices ranging between $68 for a beautiful design from the 1940s to triple digits, like a 1930s pattern that’s soaring up to $675. The older they are and the better shape they’re in, the higher price tag you can set. If you’re looking to make serious cash from quilts you’ve inherited, though, you’ll need them to be in “museum-quality.” That means not just a pristine condition, but connected to a specific era of history. 

For example, back in 1991, a blanket known as the Reconciliation Quilt was sold for a whopping $264,000. Made in 1867, the pattern reflected scenes of hope as the country began to heal following the Civil War. Although you might not be able to make quite that much money selling your own quilt, there are plenty of examples on eBay of museum-quality blankets selling for thousands of dollars.

If you stumble upon a potentially valuable quilt in your home or at a secondhand store, there are a few things to consider. Experts at All People Quilt warn against dry cleaning it — if it really needs sprucing up, a gentle hand-wash with detergent is your best bet. Small repairs are also okay using fabric like tulle or crepoline to keep the quilt’s integrity. 

The most important clue as to whether you’ve got a museum-quality quilt is the fabric and patterns. Something like the Reconciliation Quilt that tells a story is a good find. Star designs or nautical mariner patterns from the 1800s also seem to be highly valuable. All People Quilt recommends reading up on the subject with Clues in the Calico by Barbara Brackman ($26.94, Amazon). Looking at dated photos of quilts can also be a great way to pick up on what might really go for the big bucks. You can find verified appraisers on the American Quilter’s Society directory.

Of course, quilts can also be entirely too sentimental to actually think about giving up — no matter how much money you could get from it. Still, knowing more about how much a blanket is really worth can be fun!

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