How to spot treasure among trash

Buster Merryfield as Uncle Albert, David Jason as Del Boy Trotter and Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney Trotter, in series five of the comedy sitcom Only Fools and Horses, set in Peckham, London.

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"This time next year, we'll be millionaires", was always Del Boy's promise to Rodney in Only Fools and Horses.

But in real-life there are also traders searching for a piece of treasure amongst the junk that could change their lives.

BBC One series Del Boys and Dealers follows a few of them. Here's their advice for being a wheeler-dealer:

Sharon Mason

Sharon and Al Mason Sharon and Al Mason from Essex. Sharon has been trading for eight years. She quit her job in a pharmacy two years ago to do it full time.
Know where to buy and sell

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Car boot, jumble and garage sales are a good place to start looking for something of value.

Check online or your local newspaper for upcoming sale dates.

Have a good look at the photos of 'job-lots' on online auction sites. You might be able to spot the one piece of treasure among everything that could be worth a fortune.

When it comes to auction houses you might be better off avoiding them until you have gained some experience of buying and selling.

Do your research before you buy

Avoid buying anything until you know its true value.

Found a valuable antique?

Look up the maker's name, mark or signature.

Check how much similar items have made in antique guides or online auction sites.

Watch out for extra costs

The auction house or online site will take a percentage from the sale price.

Consider the added travel costs if you need to pick up an item. If you have to go 100 miles to collect your purchase it may not be worth it.

Do your research before you sell

If you believe an item is genuine, don't rush to sell it. There is a good chance it could go up in value the longer you keep it.

Visit two or three reputable auction houses.

Could you spot a fake?

  • Take detailed photographs and compare them to certified markings
  • If it's made out of ceramic or wood, do some research on the craftsmanship and style

Five counterfeit cons you need to know about

Ask their opinion but don't rush to put it on auction straight away.

If you are selling stock in auction houses or online sites make sure you write an honest description.

Ask the buyer to collect from you to save the costs of petrol or postage.

For anything you can't sell in car boot sales, keep it in storage and sell the following season as a job-lot.

Brian Greenways

Brian and Sheila Greenways Brian Greenways (pictured with his wife Sheila) started trading around the age of four with his father at east-end markets. He began turning a profit by the age of 14 and has been trading ever since.
Put in the effort

If you think you are going to make money at auctions without doing any research, you are wrong.

Go to lots of auction houses to see how they work before you buy or sell anything.

Work to your own strengths

Know what to look for

  • Check if it's part of a set. Books, coins, medals, paintings and posters can be more valuable if sold as part of a collection
  • Remember broken jewellery might still be worth something if its made from valuable metal like gold
  • If you see a scratch or notice that the paint work has faded, don't fix it until you know its true value

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If you have a good knowledge of items like furniture or watches, use it to your advantage.

Brian doesn't buy or sell fashion items. He says that for him, trends change too quickly with too many factors to consider like colours and sizes.

Buy quality

Look out for items that are not being made anymore.

These are often worth the money and items like vintage cars seem to only go up in value.

Trust your gut feeling

Del Boys and Dealers on BBC One

The traders who appear in Del Boys and Dealers

Catch up on iPlayer

If it is stylish or rare then it may well make you a profit.

If you like something, someone else will probably like it too.

Enjoy the experience

Always sell at a price that will allow someone else to make a profit.

It means the people you trade with will always come back.

Del Boys and Dealers is on BBC One, Wednesdays at 21:00

This material is for general information only and does not constitute legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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