Are you the type of person who gets a little teary-eyed when you stumble across an old, dusty souvenir from a bygone era? (It’s OK, we won’t tell.) Many travelers collect vintage souvenirs as a fun way to preserve the history and nostalgia of days gone by. And if you’re lucky enough to have a rare find, that dusty trinket you bought all those years ago could be worth a decent chunk of change.
How Many of These Do You Have?
Here are 10 types of vintage travel souvenirs that were commonly purchased and are now worth money, along with examples of specific items to help you identify if you’re the proud owner of any valuable vintage souvenirs.
Postcards are one of the most popular souvenirs people purchase while on trip. They are a cheap and easy way to send a message to friends and family back home, updating them on your fabulous vacation. Today, vintage postcards are highly sought after by collectors. The value of a postcard depends on its age, rarity, and condition.
Pro Find: A valuable postcard is Tuck’s “Oilette” postcard series from the early 1900s, featuring vividly colored illustrations of famous tourist destinations. One such postcard of the Grand Canyon sold for over $1,000 at auction.
Snowglobes are another popular item that people have added to their travel souvenir collection over the years. They were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Vintage snowglobes can sell for a lot of money, particularly if they are in good condition and feature popular tourist destinations.
Pro Find: A vintage snowglobe from Disneyland’s opening day in 1955 can be worth several hundred dollars today. These snowglobes feature the Sleeping Beauty Castle and the original Disneyland sign.
3. Pinback Buttons
Pinback buttons were popular souvenir ideas in the early 20th century and were often used to promote events or political campaigns. Vintage pinback buttons that feature frequented tourist destinations or historical events can sell for a lot of money.
Pro Find: A rare pinback button from the 1939 New York World’s Fair can fetch over $1,000. These buttons were distributed at the fair and featured images of the Trylon and Perisphere, the fair’s iconic structures.
View-Master was a wildly popular toy introduced in the 1940s. It allowed people to view 3D images of famous tourist destinations and landmarks all around the country and even the world. Vintage View-Masters are highly collectible and can sell for hundreds of dollars.
Pro Find: A rare View-Master reel set from the 1940s featuring images of Yellowstone National Park can be worth over $1,000. These reel sets are highly sought after by collectors.
5. Tiki Mugs
Tiki mugs were popular souvenirs in the 1950s and 1960s and often sold at Polynesian-themed restaurants and bars. Vintage tiki mugs are in demand by collectors and can sell for hundreds of dollars.
Pro Find:: A vintage tiki mug from Trader Vic’s, a popular Polynesian-themed restaurant in the 1950s and 1960s, can be worth several hundred dollars. These mugs feature designs inspired by Polynesian culture, such as carved tikis or hula dancers.
6. Shot Glasses
Shot glasses are popular vacation souvenirs that people love collecting. Many bars and gift shops still sell them. Vintage shot glasses that feature popular tourist destinations or historical events can sell for a lot of money.
Example: A vintage shot glass from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair can be worth over $100. Featuring images of the iconic Space Needle, these were sold as souvenirs at the fair.
Pennants were popular souvenirs in the mid-20th century. Many people bought them at sporting events and tourist destinations. Vintage pennants featuring popular sports teams or destinations can sell for a lot.
Pro Find: A vintage pennant from the 1957 World Series featuring the Milwaukee Braves can be worth several hundred dollars. These pennants are highly collectible and feature the team’s logo and the words “World Series Champions.”
8. License Plates
License plates are hot item that people collect at souvenir shops and flea markets. Vintage license plates that feature major tourist destinations or historical events can be worth money.
Pro Find: A vintage license plate from the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago can be worth over $1,000. These license plates were used on cars at the fair and feature the fair’s logo and the year “1933.”
Vintage matchbooks were popular souvenirs from the early to mid-20th century. They were often given away at restaurants and hotels. If you’re holding on to any that feature popular events or locations, they may be worth money.
Pro Find: A rare matchbook from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair featuring the Space Needle can be worth over $100. These matchbooks were distributed at the fair and feature an illustration of the Space Needle on the cover.
10. Travel Posters
Travel posters were very popular as souvenirs in the early to mid-20th century when popular tourist destinations used them to promote travel. Vintage travel posters can sell for good money, particularly if they feature popular locations or were designed by famous artists.
Pro Find: A rare travel poster from the 1930s featuring an image of the Grand Canyon can be worth over $5,000. These posters were used to promote travel to the Grand Canyon and feature colorful illustrations of the canyon’s unique landscape.
Did You Keep Any?
The value of a vintage souvenir depends on its age, rarity, and condition. If you have any of the above-mentioned souvenirs, you might want to consider getting them appraised or selling them to a collector. It’s always a good idea to do some research and get your items appraised by a professional if you think they might be valuable.
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey. Featured Image Credit: BearFotos/Shutterstock
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.