Antiques and Your Home – Dumpster or No Dumpster: Summertime edition


Dumpster or No Dumpster has become a mainstay for my fans who play along at, during my TV appearances, and at my antiques appraisal events. I developed the game years ago to enjoy the process of figuring out what to trash and what to treasure. Here’s how you play, Dumpster or No Dumpster ™. If you are faced with the decision as to what to do with the following items relating to the lazy days of summer, which objects would you throw away?

  1. A circa 1950s glass lemonade set with a pitcher and six glasses
  2. A stack of plastic cups with matching lids, circa 1989
  3. A croquet set from the late 1960s
  4. A straw handbag
  5. A pair of Vuarnet sunglasses from the 1980s

Remember, cleaning is not the same as trashing. While you will get rid of stuff by simply throwing it away, you may be liquidating some real money in the process. Typically, when you clean out a house, you have no idea what certain items are, their age, or their value. Now that you have been given some clues to what stuff is, which pieces are destined for the dumpster?

Lemonade sets, which may be found in both glass or ceramic versions, are very desirable. A glass set in good condition with bright and cheery decoration of flowers or fruit is worth $150 to $250. Don’t dump it!

So, what about the other summertime items? Remember that I made this game easy on you. You only have to deal with five items. Imagine how it is to do this with a house full of stuff. That’s why people ask for my help. Get an appraisal first.

As you make decisions about the objects, you are pretty sure that the plastic cups (my nieces used to call these ‘sippy’ cups) can be safely relegated to the dumpster. You are right because those are more sentimental than monetarily valuable.

Old lawn game sets are throwbacks to the post-war suburban neighborhood when kids gathered to compete in the backyard. Old sets should be in “fun” condition—complete with no missing pieces and ready for fun. This is a tall order since most of these games are stored in garages, outbuildings or sheds when they are not used.

As a forty-something woman, you are certainly keeping the straw summer handbag that your mom, for example, picked up on vacation in Puerto Rico in the 1950s. You ignore your brother who says you are silly to keep it. You tell him that vintage handbags are all the rage, but he doesn’t believe it is worth $400.

It isn’t until he is out having drinks with friends from work that he sees your side. He overhears a female colleague showing off her new bag and he is shocked to hear her say that she paid $425 for the vintage straw purse. He can’t believe he nearly tossed one away and that this fashionista would kill for. Now, even your brother knows that handbag is a No Dumpster summer collectible!

My last summertime Dumpster or No Dumpster item is something that is near and dear to my heart. They are my own circa 1985 Vuarnet sunglasses. I have had these “shades” since college (can’t believe I never lost them). Sure, I have purchased other sunglasses over the years, but I will never part with this valuable pair. The trendy “cat” frames go—as Project Runway’s Heidi Klum would put it–in or out. No matter the current trend, they are cool sunglasses. And, on today’s market, they are valuable too. Vintage sunglasses are selling online and at vintage shops all over the world for several hundreds of dollars. Look for brand names like Ray Ban, Nina Ricci (the sunglass brand that Jackie O made famous), Versace, Adrienne Vittadini, Gucci, etc. Choose longstanding frame  like the cat, wayfarers, or aviator styles.

Keep playing and find out if your stuff is a Dumpster or No Dumpster™ Happy summer.

Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide and antiques themed vacation cruises. As seen on NBC’s The Tonight Show and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, watch Dr. Lori on Lifetime Television. Visit,, or call (888) 431-1010.


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