COLLECTING PEOPLE: COULD YOU HAVE A FORTUNE IN YOUR ATTIC?
Originally named GI Joe, this doll for boys was first made in the US by Hasbro in 1964, then licensed to Palitoy in Britain. They added realistic hair, gripping hands and hawk-like eyes. Action Man dolls have been a top-seller for years and spin-offs include records and magazines.
Dolls and vehicles are most wanted, rather than vehicles and accessories.
Value guide: A good unboxed doll, pounds 20; rarest outfits, pounds 1,000-plus.
The 20th Century explosion in this field means many posters, in particular, have become as famous as their products.
Novelties, such as Guinness pottery toucans, have become collectable. Items that were once pub give-aways are now worth having. Johnny Walker whisky figures, Black & White dogs, ashtrays, ice buckets and beer mats all have their price - particularly if they're pre-war.
Value guide: Coca-Cola advertising trays with prints, 1938 and 1941, pounds 35-pounds 100 each; Black & White tin alloy dog, pounds 100; Courage Ales copper tray, pounds 50-pounds 80.
The creator of the cult TV puppet programmes is big news. Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and Terrahawks are particular sought after. Thunderbirds, in fact, is the all-time most popular TV programme in Japan!
Value guide: Diecast Dinky Captain Scarlet Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (SPV), with box, pounds 60-pounds 100; "Thunderbirds Are Go" film poster, pounds 150-pounds 250.
A once-a-year compilation first introduced in early Victorian England, in the 20th Century they became dominated by comics, with Rupert, Dandy and Beano outstripping rival annuals. Since by nature they're aimed at children, good condition examples are at a premium.
Value guide: 1936 Rupert Annual without dust jacket, pounds 500; with jacket, pounds 2,000-plus.
Autographs of the famous have been collected since the 18th Century and are growing in popularity. Some are low-valued, though, because of the frequency of signings. The fashion now is for collecting entire letters or documents - and 20th Century manuscripts are big news.
Value guide: Marilyn Monroe, pounds 500-pounds 1,000; boxer Muhammad Ali, pounds 5; Elvis Presley signed postcard, pounds 250.
This classic British show was one of the few screened on prime time American TV and the surreal plots with Patrick Macnee, Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg gave it cult status.
Value guide: Emma Peel doll, pounds 500;Dinky Steed Jaguar, 1979, with box, pounds 3,000.
Badge collecting is an affordable pastime of enormous variety. They range from the Golly series from Robinson's marmalade to rare Suffragette badges, Butlins' badges and others that cost as little as pounds 1 at markets and second- hand shops.
Value guide: Noddy, Golly and Huntley & Palmer figures, pounds 10-pounds 20.
First produced by Mattel in 1959, it was the first teenage fashion doll. Boyfriend Ken appeared in 1961. No other toy inspires such passion from collectors - pre-1967 dolls are rare and boxed examples have fetched pounds 4,000, but you can start a collection from pounds 5.
Value guide: 1960s Barbie in original box, with uncombed hair, pounds 80-pounds 120; with 20 outfits, pounds 200-pounds 300.
The Caped Crusader made his debut in DC Comics in America in 1939 and the 1966 TV series brought him a wider audience, though serious fans didn't like his light-hearted image. As a result, the comics remain the most collectable items.
Value guide: DC Comics No 27, more than pounds 60,000; Nomura model Batman, 1966, mint and boxed, pounds 1,500.
This is the most valuable type of pop memorabilia - from records, clothes and posters down to a piece of George Harrison's toast.
Prices are rising all the time, particularly items featuring the original line-up with drummer Pete Best. John Lennon items also carry significant premiums.
Value guide: Set of Bobbin Head Beatles metal-alloy figures, pounds 500-pounds 800; Beatles printed cotton dress, pounds 300; signed copy of John Lennon's book, In His Own Write, pounds 600.
First on the scene in 1817, bicycles have only recently changed to any great extent. The Moulton of 1958 and the Raleigh Chopper of 10 years later were significant developments.
Competition among collectors is fierce, but prices can be as low as pounds 10.
Value guide: Raleigh Tomahawk, pristine, pounds 200-pounds 300.
These were among the few lithographed tin plate items produced in Britain and they are now much collected. Companies include Huntley & Palmer, Boorne and Stevens, Barringer, Wallis and Manners and Hudson, Scott and Sons. After the 1930s, quality declined.
Value guide: Co-op Wholesale Society delivery van and Crawfords General Bus, each pounds 1,500.
First on film screens in 1962, Ian Fleming's secret agent earned worldwide fame and launched a huge range of toys. Merchandise featuring Sean Connery is particularly popular.
Value guide: Corgi Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, pounds 40-pounds 100; Sean Connery 1965 Gilbert figure, pounds 600-pounds 800.
The book market is insatiable - and not only for older ones. The Internet has opened up access and second-hand prices are rising rapidly. Condition of the book is very important.
Value guide: JK Rowling's Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, 1999 first edition, pounds 4,800; Wind In The Willows, 1908 first edition, pounds 1,500.
The original 1900 Eastman Kodak Brownie was the first camera to use a roll film. There have been dozens of models since and prices start at pounds 2.50. In the second half of the 20th Century, Brownie cameras were mass produced and therefore cost only about pounds 10 at auction.
Value guide: Kodak George Washington special packed 1932 version, pounds 80- pounds 120; Kodak Brownie No 2, 1900, pounds 40-pounds 50 with box.
Long-established as a maker of games, jigsaw puzzles and soft toys, the brand started in Birmingham in 1919. In the 1950s they produced a quality range of clockwork Weekin diecasts of Rootes group cars.
Value guide: Set of painted, felt-headed dolls of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with outfits and boxes, pounds 1,900; Ferguson 1955 tractor, pounds 500- plus.
Few ornaments are as typically British as the pottery character jug, made since the 18th Century. As with any "completist" markets (those driven by a collector's desire to fill gaps), prices are determined by rarity and condition.
Value guide: Set of World War I leaders, by Wilkinson of Staffordshire, pounds 4,000-pounds 6,000.
CHARLES AND DIANA
With a huge quantity on the market, souvenirs of the Royal couple are readily available at prices to suit the low-budget collector. Officially- released items by quality manufacturers like Staffordshire pottery firms are more valued, especially in limited editions.
Value guide: Kilncraft pottery mug to commemorate their 1981 wedding, pounds 5-pounds 10.
The tradition of commemorative pottery goes back to the 17th Century, but almost none of the mass-produced 20th Century examples is worth much more than about pounds 30.
Value guide: Edward VIII coronation mug, pounds 15.
The hugely-successful diecast toy manufacturer began in 1936 as Mettoy, in Northampton. In 1956, the Corgi range was launched with model cars with plastic windows and, later, spring suspension. It later hooked on to TV shows.
Value guide: Man from U.N.C.L.E., Yellow Submarine, Popeye and Noddy models, boxed in mint condition, pounds 60-pounds 350 each; plastic Magic Roundabout Playground, pounds 900.
From the moment Mickey Mouse made his screen debut in 1928, Walt Disney was big news and encouraged a flood of spin-off products, some of which are extremely valuable. Post-1970s examples are not pricey yet - but they probably will be.
Value guide: Mickey And Minnie Organ Grinder, by the German Distler company, pounds 15,000; unlicensed Nifty Toys model Mickey playing drums, pounds 1,000; Goofy the Gardener, 1950s, pounds 500-plus; stuffed model Mickey, pounds 50-pounds 300.
ELECTRICAL AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS
It's the items we take for granted today that can be interesting and affordable to collectors. Early electric toasters, Bakelite hairdryers and electric fans are fairly cheap. American fridges of the 1950s are less so. Kettles are keenly sought, as are more unusual items such as pastry, jelly and ice moulds. and labour-savers like lemon squeezers.
Value guide: Alessi 9091 kettle, 1983, pounds 95-pounds 450; Magnet 1930s chrome- plated electric toaster, pounds 20-pounds 30.
Almost anything connected with a hit film is a target for collectors - and prices reflect that. Vivien Leigh's Oscar for Gone With The Wind fetched pounds 375,600 at auction. Judy Garland's shoes from The Wizard Of Oz realised pounds 444,000 and even a prop gun used in The Empire Strikes Back made pounds 3,220. Collectors of more modest means tend to concentrate on posters and other publicity material, autographs and wardrobe items.
Value guide: 1933 King Kong original poster, pounds 25,000; Picturegoer magazine 1934 Jean Harlow issue, pounds 10; Williamson Kinematograph hand-cranked cinema camera, c1910, pounds 2,500.
FIRST DAY COVERS
Presentation packs of new stamp series started in the 1960s. With them came special envelopes designed for posting on the first day of issue having been specially GPO franked. They are of surprisingly little value, but are an affordable way of collecting post-war history.
Value guide: First day cover 1977 Queen's Jubilee, under pounds 10.
With so many followers, football memorabilia is eminently collectable, from programmes and caps, autographs, signed footballs, posters, trophies, medals and shirts. Early century items and those featuring legends like Stanley Matthews and milestones like the 1966 World Cup are the jewels.
Value guide: FA Cup final 1923, pounds 300-pounds 400; Ryan Giggs autographed 1996 Welsh shirt, pounds 320.
Once known as one-armed bandits, these gambling machines became popular in the States of the 1930s. Modern electric examples follow the same principals, but have no side lever and are cheap to buy.
Value guide: Mills Black Beauty, 1930s, pounds 300-pounds 400; 1950s working models, pounds 300-pounds 600.
Two years ago, this was the biggest Christmas gimmick - it's a popular battery-powered mechanical toy made by Tiger, which comes with a book on how to translate the Furbish language it "speaks". It sold 30 million in two years and a shortage at Christmas 1998 caused the toys to change hands for up to pounds 400 - but not now.
Value guide: Around pounds 24.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera made the first Tom And Jerry cartoons in 1941 and went on to make The Flintstones, Top Cat, Wacky Races and Scooby Doo. Toys were an inevitable side issue.
Value guide: 1962 remote-control Flintstones car, by Marx, pounds 200.
The Edwardian period produced hatpins as long as 12 inches, but it's the head of the pin which draws the collector. Ornamental buttons are often hinge-mounted and made in a wide variety of materials, from tortoiseshell and ivory to the more politically correct (nowadays) glass and silver.
Value guide: Pins by unknown makers, 1900-20, pounds 5-pounds 50; Liberty & Co pins, pounds 50-pounds 300.
A range of toy trains produced by Meccano from 1938-1964, working by electricity and clockwork. Intact pre-war sets are valuable, but the heavily- revised range of 1960-64 is most popular with collectors - as long as everything is mint and boxed.
Value guide: 1957 Dorchester West Country class locomotive, pounds 200-plus; 1960-64 locomotives, pounds 70-pounds 600.
An important part of the musical revolution, with Wurlitzers the most famous and flamboyant. Their golden years spanned the 1930s and 1940s rather than the rock 'n' roll years later. Pre-1960s are the most valuable, with more recent models available for a few hundred pounds.
Value guide: 1942 Model 950 Wurlitzer, pounds 15,000; 1953 Seeburg, pounds 2,000.
Voted Toy of the Century by British retailers, Lego was founded in Denmark in 1932 to make wooden toys. Its name is derived from the Danish leg godt (play well). In the 1940s, they started interlocking plastic bricks and expanded dramatically in the 1960s after introducing their patent internal tubes.
Value guide: 1960s Lego System, about pounds 30.
Phones of the 1980s were the size of a suitcase. By the 1990s, they were much smaller and could link with the Internet. Any distinctive model will undoubtedly become collectable as a symbol of the satellite age.
Value guide: Who knows? But keep your next one - and keep the box!
The first British postcards were issued by the GPO in 1870 with the stamp printed on the card. Postcards from the early 20th Century are readily available and priced to suit every collector. Important history or signatures can boost price. Mabel Lucie Attwell, Donald McGill and Louis Wain are favourite artists.
Value guide: Photographic views and typical holiday postcards, 50p; silk cards from World War I, pounds 4; Raphael Tuck playable record cards, pounds 10-pounds 15.
Extensively collected by everybody, from jazz to heavy metal fans, the main market for higher value is pop. Signed albums, white labels and test- pressings are the most wanted.
Value guide: Elvis Presley signed singles on Sun label, pounds 2,000; Beatles singles of the 1960s, pounds 2.
ROCK 'N' ROLL MEMORABILIA
Every aspect of rock 'n' roll, from Elvis onwards, is eagerly sought. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, The Who and Elton John are just some of the bigger names among collectors. Just as it was in its early days, rock music continues to be the most important influence on the youth of today.
Value guide: 1975 Sound Soul Bay City Rollers shoes, pounds 40-pounds 50; programme for 1967 concert with Hendrix and Pink Floyd, pounds 950; signed photo of Jim Morrison of The Doors, pounds 350.
The first soft bears with jointed limbs were made in Germany by Margarete Steiff in 1902 and soon achieved worldwide popularity, getting the name Teddy from US President Theodore Roosevelt. Other German firms such as Schuco, Bing and Hermann joined in and in the 1920s Chiltern, Dean and Merrythought started producing British versions. In the last 15 years, prices have risen steeply.
Value guide: 1904 Steiff Teddy Girl, pounds 110,000; modern examples from pounds 1.
From Muffin The Mule to Dr Who, the products associated with TV programmes are often more profitable than the shows themselves. The Magic Roundabout, Star Trek and The Monkees spin-offs are particularly popular - as are old TV sets themselves.
Value guide: 1952 Bakelite-cased TV with front dials, pounds 140-pounds 180; 1951 Andy Pandy, Teddy and Looby-Lou lead figures from Watch With Mother, pounds 500.
The trainer was first produced as long ago as 1917. Adidas and Nike now rule the market, with Nike trainers the more collectable.
Value guide: First edition Air Jordan (redesigned by basketball player Michael), in black and blue, mint and boxed, pounds 3,000.
From its commercial beginnings in the early 1970s, the video game has revolutionised the world of toys. Atari led the way from 1972, with a table tennis game called Pong. Midway/Taito then launched the arcade game, Space Invaders, in 1978, and Pac-Man in 1982. Four years later, Nintendo came out with Super Mario Brothers and, in 1989, expanded the market with the Game Boy. It also annihilated the traditional toy industry.
Value guide: Donkey Kong and Zelda games by Nintendo, pounds 5-pounds 10; Interstate video game, 1970s, pounds 25-pounds 40; late 1980s battery-operated Firefox flight simulator, pounds 10.
Despite the enormous amount of military items available, many collectors find social aspects of World Wars I and II far more interesting - and inexpensive. Ration books, "Dig For Victory" posters, and anti-Nazi propaganda are popular.
Value guide: "Peace For Our Time" Neville Chamberlain speech edition of London Evening News, 1938, pounds 20-pounds 30; postcards from World War I trenches, pounds 5-plus; World War II ration book, 1943, pounds 1.
Became a household item in the 1920s and will always be with us. Crystal sets were produced in an array of styles and the invention of the transistor pushed radios into another dimension.
Value guide: 1920s crystal set, pounds 250-pounds 350; Decca wireless, late 1950s, pounds 40-pounds 80; Bush DAC90, from 1946, pounds 30-pounds 80; Zanuso TS502, 1964, pounds 200-pounds 300.