From attic to antique: our top 10 most unusual donations

3 July 2014        

From a ventriloquist's doll to an African pygmy hedgehog, we have had some unique items donated to us over the past three months.

Ventriliquist's dummyPocket watchLadies corsetThe unusual items were donated to our shops all over the UK and sold to savvy bidders on eBay over the last three months.

All money raised from our eBay store goes toward continuing our life saving research to fight coronary heart disease, the UK’s single biggest killer.

Top ten quirky items sold through BHF’s eBay store:

1. Ventriloquist Dummy - £670

A vintage professional ventriloquist doll donated to the Headingly shop in Leeds fetched £670. The handmade wooden puppet was bought by the son of a collector, after his father died, to help raise money for the BHF.

2. Custard Powder Tin - £107

A vintage Home & Colonial Stores Ltd. custard powder tin donated to the Cambridge shop was sold on the eBay store for £107. The tin originated from the early 20th century and became a collector’s item.

3. Sovereign Coin - £220.89

Bearing the head of Edward VII, a 22ct gold sovereign coin from 1905 was sold for £220.89 on the eBay store. Donated to the Portslade shop in East Sussex, the rare coin was manufactured in Perth in the early 20th century.

4. Fish Ornament - £555

A Royal Copenhagen 5456 Salmon Fish ornament was sold for a whopping £555 on eBay, after being donated to the Sevenoaks shop.

5. Vivienne Westwood Corset - £123.99

A rare Vivienne Westwood brown leather corset basque top from 1991, which was included in Chertsey Museum’s An Image of Itself exhibition, raised £123.99 for the BHF. Made from 100% leather, the structured boned corset was originally donated to the Formby shop.

6. Military Medals - £190

An 'Imperium Britannicum' military tin, issued to soldiers in 1914 to hold their personal effects, was donated to the Crewe Furniture & Electrical store and contained a collection of 19 military medals from World Wars One and Two. The badges sold for a total of £190 with the tin.

7. Cornet - £1,953

A tarnished cornet with dents and scratches that was donated to a BHF shop in Staffordshire was almost thrown out before an eagle-eyed volunteer realised it was a rare item made by Distin & Co., a celebrated 19th Century British brass instrument manufacturer. Although it was damaged, the instrument still worked well and the price rose from £4.99 to £1,953 in just seven days.

8. Collection of real bugs and insects - £205

A comprehensive set of 1-69 Real Life Bugs & Insects magazines, complete with preserved insects and display cases, sold for a mammoth £205 on the eBay store, after being donated to the Hull shop.

9. Pocket Watch - £720

Having been donated to the Liverpool shop, a Walthams 18ct gold pocket watch from 1918 sold for £720 on the eBay store. The vintage watch was in good working order and featured a unique inscription on the back saying “Presented to William Wigglesworth by Samuel Heap & Son, Ltd. In appreciation of 31 years faithful service. Rochdale. August 1918”.

10. Baby Grand Piano - £870

 Donated to the Wandsworth Furniture & Electrical store, a 19th Century John Broadwood & Sons baby grand piano in full working order fetched £870 for the BHF in an eBay auction.

And finally…

An African pygmy hedgehog, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, was once accidentally donated to the Walthamstow shop after hiding in a donation bag along with clothes, books and shoes. Once the team realised, it was handed over to the South Essex Wildlife Trust.

Andrew Shaw, BHF eBay Manager, says, “It’s amazing what people donate to BHF shops. When staff spot high-value and unique items, they send them over to us and we list them on eBay. This means we not only get the best price for the rare and beautiful items, but that these objects are available to many more people than they would be if they were just sold in the shop they were donated to."

Donate your unwanted goods

To view what’s currently available and place a bid, visit our eBay store.

You can donate your unwanted items to your local BHF shop. You can also organise a free collection for unwanted items through your local BHF shop or online.