Jump to content


Photo

Are classic telescope prices appreciating?

  • Please log in to reply
47 replies to this topic

#1 strdst

strdst

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3942
  • Joined: 23 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Oregon Territory

Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:38 AM

As a hopeless buyer of telescopes I hope not, but as an owner of too much glass I would like to think so. I know I'm conflicted here but...

I haven't been too surprised by anything that has actually sold on eBay. That is SOLD, not just the listed or minimum bid. What has caught my attention is the reserves or starting bids seem to be a bit ahead of the market. And Craigslist, at least my "local" region which has classics few and far between but with the asking prices of

some recent offerings...

Towa #339 80 X 1200 = $475

Tasco 11te-5 reflector= $150

Jason 313 60 X 910= $400

ShrineManon 60 X 700 = $150

Monolux 4380 60 X 910 $1450

To my knowledge none of these telescopes have sold but is the asking price moving up a sign of the times or just wishful thinking on the part of the sellers? i know there are still a few OMG! deals that happen but is the day of the good condition classic scope for $75 a thing of the past? Is $125 the new $75? Is $1450?

#2 sgorton99

sgorton99

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3485
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2008
  • Loc: Wisconsin, Madison

Posted 09 September 2012 - 07:09 AM

I blame Al Gore for inventing the internet. Neophytes see a Unitron sell for $1k, and they automatically think whatever one they have is worth the same. One of my biggest issues with buying/selling classic scopes is not so much the purchase/sell price, but the shipping costs if not local!

#3 Grava T

Grava T

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1367
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Quebec, Canada

Posted 09 September 2012 - 07:20 AM

The more we talk about these old telescopes here on CN the more hits Google gets when someone searches for information on that old scope they have in their basement before they put it up for sale. Seller discovers its collectibility and lists the item at a high price. WE are responsible! ;)

#4 amicus sidera

amicus sidera

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4131
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011
  • Loc: East of the Sun, West of the Moon...

Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:57 PM

I agree, Michael... the database that the Classic Telescope forum has amassed over the past decade or so (archives included) has made us a sort of "one-stop shop" for anyone who has an old 'scope and wants to get an approximation of the going price.

That said, I think that at least some of the higher starting prices one sees for older instruments is due to folks being hard up for funds... real unemployment, when those who've fallen off the unemployment rolls are taken into account, is up around 20% or more; that's a lot of folks out of work. Same goes for real inflation; it's more like 14%, since the official figure fails to take energy and food price increases into account. Everyone's getting pinched, unless they're very well off... it's not surprising, then, that people are trying to get top dollar for wahtever they're selling... trouble is, of course, that due to these same economic conditions, the market for these instruments is quite a bit smaller than, say, 5 or 6 years ago.

#5 Bonco

Bonco

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3450
  • Joined: 17 Apr 2006
  • Loc: Florida

Posted 09 September 2012 - 03:38 PM

I've advertised an excellent Towa 339 for a very reasonable price:$180. Not a single inquirey in 2 weeks or so. Not sure there are that many buyers out there right now interested in small classic refractors. Bill

#6 JohnRW

JohnRW

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 02 Sep 2012
  • Loc: Oakland, California

Posted 09 September 2012 - 05:52 PM

The more we talk about these old telescopes here on CN the more hits Google gets when someone searches for information on that old scope they have in their basement before they put it up for sale. Seller discovers its collectibility and lists the item at a high price. WE are responsible! ;)


I'm an example of that - found CN from googling my Cave while fixing it up. Not that I want to sell it, but I had a good idea of relative condition and value with an hour or so of reading. Some people will wind up using the scopes, so there's an upside! ;)

#7 Grava T

Grava T

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1367
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Quebec, Canada

Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:10 PM

The more we talk about these old telescopes here on CN the more hits Google gets when someone searches for information on that old scope they have in their basement before they put it up for sale. Seller discovers its collectibility and lists the item at a high price. WE are responsible! ;)


I'm an example of that - found CN from googling my Cave while fixing it up. Not that I want to sell it, but I had a good idea of relative condition and value with an hour or so of reading. Some people will wind up using the scopes, so there's an upside! ;)


There definitely is an upside and congratulations on starting this wonderful hobby with such a great classic telescope. If reading these classic forums gets people using their old scopes then all the better.

#8 neotesla

neotesla

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1123
  • Joined: 18 Nov 2010
  • Loc: Canada

Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:55 PM

To tell the truth, when I first started reading the classics forum, I got the bug to buy a Unitron scope... A few inquires later and the sticker shock was a real eye opener.

#9 Joe Cepleur

Joe Cepleur

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2046
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Dark North Woods

Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:17 PM

Like so many other astronomers needing to stretch a nickel into a dollar, I appreciate that sales are slow. Still, finding more and better peace in astronomy than anything else, I've had to buy glass, because it's cheaper than psychiatry, and more effective. I haven't forgotten your Towa 339, Bonco. Best thing about it is --such faith in this forum!-- I truly believe it would be in exactly the condition stated, priced fairly, and shipped properly (no loosely packed counterweight destroying the prize en route!). Current budget-filler is the commitment to the equally well-priced repair of a particular salt-encrusted C8. Watch for a renewed thread!

Among my obsessive pleasures, I have been tracking prices on eBay for a year and a half. It turns out that anyone with the nerve to sell a scope with a $1 opening price and no reserve can still get a good price, about the same as a year or two ago. It's not without risk; I saw a wedge for a C8 that ought go have brought the better part of $100 sell for about a third of that. But, chicken-hearts who resolve their fears about losing their items to low prices, and who respond by setting high opening bids, reserves of any size, or high prices with "Make Offers?" Hah! The market punishes them big-time. Their items often do not sell, even if the "Buy It Now" price were perfectly fair. Such is the psychology of auctions. Asking and getting prices are two different things.

EBay makes super-cheap deals rarer. In a perfect world-wide market, prices stabilize. Still, if one loves old scopes for visual use, it's not the most costly affliction. Cruise over to the astrophotography forum for that!

#10 strdst

strdst

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3942
  • Joined: 23 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Oregon Territory

Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:00 AM

I don't know much about other collectables and how they are priced. I think items like vintage coins, depression glassware, books, cookie jars, guns, cars, bikes, etc. have a bluebook where prices are established, (by whom and how I don't know), and referenced by collectors. Are we serving as a bluebook for vintage telescopes by default? Is eBay?

I know there is a telescope bluebook online but the data base is quite limited and the entries are very dated. Are bluebooks good? Certainly it is much easier to judge the condition of a coin, piece of depression glass, or beany baby than it is a telescope, especially when stuff that has just been "won" at an estate auction and the seller really hasn't a clue what they have, whether it is complete, or even which end points up has it is listed on eBay the very next day with an expectation of price that comes from where? Here?

So far it sounds like sales are limited and just the (local to me) asking prices have escalated recently... except Bill's Towa 339 which is a steal @ $180, especially when compared to the asking price of $475 for "a bit beat up" 339 on the Seattle CL!

#11 strdst

strdst

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3942
  • Joined: 23 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Oregon Territory

Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:07 AM

Joe,

I'm totally with you on the value of telescopes for mental health. If only I could convince my employer's health care provider to cover 80% of purchases...but I'd pay a deductible of course! :lol:

#12 sgorton99

sgorton99

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3485
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2008
  • Loc: Wisconsin, Madison

Posted 10 September 2012 - 06:15 AM

I think part of the challenge is someone lists one for a crazy high price, and then marks "sold" and we don't know what it really sold for, or even if it sold at all. But, that price becomes the new market price. Look at the 32mm Meade RG that just "sold" on Astromart for $650. I was going to add a link, but I see the "seller" has taken the ad down.

#13 Da Bear

Da Bear

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 988
  • Joined: 21 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Kali-Forn-Ya

Posted 10 September 2012 - 07:01 PM

Overall scope, mount and eyepiece prices are at there lowest levels --adjusted for inflation - in many years. That said, the quality high end -TAK, AP, TV. Brandon, etc..- and well cared for collectable classics --Nextstar 11 GPS - are appreciating faster then inflation.

IF you have the disposable income and the desire, NOW is a great time to fill in your collections and start new ones.

Da Bear

#14 Stargoat

Stargoat

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 417
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Illinois

Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:13 AM

I just posted about a Jason 313 on ebay for a scope that I was able to go look at in person yesterday. First thing the guy says to me is that it has the circle T on the name tag...so it's one of the good ones....worth $200 or more.

Did not think to ask how he knew that...well actually he was selling for his boss who must have found our site and or other adds on the bay. All looked really nice, not mint but not too shabby for being in a storage unit. Dew shield was mint so I did not take off the dust cover at first. But when I did the objective was full of large clamshells. The glass was really clean. It never occured to him to take a look at the front lens before he posted the ad :foreheadslap:.

I made a low offer and see it is now listed again. At least now after I gave the guy *BLEEP* about not mentioning the clamshells, I see they added pictures and verbage, but right back at the original price.

There now is another 313 with the reflex finder with a BIN price of $320. Must have been Curt Gowdy's personal scope, or at least autographed by him. But I'm not seeing the tag with his picture on it :grin:.

Stephen

#15 Napersky

Napersky

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2038
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Chicagoland

Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:12 PM

I have seen a couple ads around for Sears 6344 blue tube for $450, don't know if it's the same seller over and over.

#16 chuck52

chuck52

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 240
  • Joined: 03 Dec 2009
  • Loc: Quartz Hill,California

Posted 26 November 2012 - 06:23 PM

I would agree with that Michael.I have also run into situations were the seller is advised by someone that what they have is as good as gold and they relist the item higher in price.It seems the good samaritan that advised the seller has no intention of buying the equipment but wants to make sure the seller gets maximum money from potential buyers.Anyone else seen this? Im all for paying a fair price but I have seen many posts here of people picking up classic scopes "at a steal". I cant imagine anyone walking onto a car lot and saying hey this is a really nice car,your underpriced so let me give you $1000 more.I must be morally corrupt. :question:

#17 wdretired

wdretired

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 73
  • Joined: 20 Nov 2012
  • Loc: Iowa, USA

Posted 26 November 2012 - 10:43 PM

You guys make me feel good. I just bought a Tasco 10TE at a Tag Sale, and I thought I had paid too much when I first got it home. It was wrapped in some soft rags and nothing was in it's place in the wooden crate. I had to ask help in getting it put together but tonight I looked at the Moon with the weakest lens it had, and I about passed out with the view. I have never seen the Moon look that detailed (and big). According to several people, it was manufactured in the late 1950's. I had the idea that if it wasn't computer run, it wasn't very good but I have to change my mind on that one. I need to figure out a way to get some decent photos as the couple of methods I tried didn't work to well but I figure there was no way I could go wrong for $25.00.

#18 strdst

strdst

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3942
  • Joined: 23 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Oregon Territory

Posted 27 November 2012 - 12:13 AM

You had better feel good, $25... sheesh!

My first 10te CL Scramento, Ca, $225+$75 pac&ship. The kid selling it told me his father fished it out of the school bus barn before it was disposed of as obsolete school science equipment.

Second ... Mayflower equivalent of a Tasco 10te... $200 + $75 pack and ship. As the seller turned the case over to the packing store employees (on the phone to me for shipment) she burst into tears saying some guy came into the store to send something, asked to see what was in the case and upon seeing this 3" refractor said he would pay $1000 for such a nice piece. I offered that if so sell it to the guy NOW, but apparently he had already left the store. I felt pretty bad after that drama. I feel obligated to never, ever sell this one.

Next 10te lanquished on Cl OC Ca. I didn't want to do it but it hit $150 and, really what could I do? Belonged to a girl's ex. A really dumped, really P.O.ed girl. After being assured he couldn't come back on her I bought it. I hope everyone was happy. For a few weeks however I expected a knock on the door and HELLO BOYFRIEND! never happened thank goodness.

Anyway just sharing the stories that come along with some of these sweet scopes.

#19 Joe Cepleur

Joe Cepleur

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2046
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Dark North Woods

Posted 27 November 2012 - 12:28 AM

I have also seen scopes that do not sell on eBay or Craig's List immedately relisted at a higher price. Baffles me.

#20 strdst

strdst

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3942
  • Joined: 23 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Oregon Territory

Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:23 AM

A neighbor had 15 acres adjacent to me for sale for months at 90K. he relisted the land at $120K and ka-ching it was sold. Some people truly believe that you get what you pay for, and if it costs more it just must be better.

#21 tomchris

tomchris

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 623
  • Joined: 22 Dec 2010
  • Loc: Connecticut, U.S.A.

Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:30 AM

I agree with the comment about shipping costs raising the price. I was going to have my restored Unitron and accessories (including three original wooden cases) packed and shipped professionally. The shipping costs, however, were very high. Now I will be meeting a buyer locally this weekend who is buying the scope. I also sold many of the accessories earlier. I also think that the struggling economy is making it harder to sell scopes for the most part. I hated to "part out" the Unitron but it ended up being the only way to finally sell it.

#22 Joe Cepleur

Joe Cepleur

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2046
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Dark North Woods

Posted 27 November 2012 - 07:10 AM

A neighbor had 15 acres adjacent to me for sale for months at 90K. he relisted the land at $120K and ka-ching it was sold. Some people truly believe that you get what you pay for, and if it costs more it just must be better.


My family had a wonderful business that ultimately failed for larger reasons, but had struggled all along over price. The view that paying customers want low prices is not necessarily true. Sometimes, they want the best, which they presume to be the most costly. When I joined and raised prices, we fared better, yet were still value-priced, so customers went elsewhere. As business dwindled, we could no longer afford to be the best. Sometimes, the customers are right.

With telescopes, sellers want to get rich quick by dumping Grandpa's gold mine, or so they think. In a marketplace as large as eBay, there is often some fool who will pay the price. Over time, this will raise the high end of the market, but it may be a distortion. Many more scopes (we can hope!) may still sell at reasonable prices. Not every alt/az yoke-mounted 60mm is truly worth the big bucks that naive sellers and silly buyers think.

#23 BarabinoSr

BarabinoSr

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1515
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2005
  • Loc: Slidell La

Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:27 AM

You're right, Joe! Sometimes when people sell classics, some put them at what they believe is a fair price that may or may not be so in the eyes of a potential buyer and that's ok , then they are others who want to move them just to get them to a good home, or just to make some room. I was very fortunate to add a TASCO 11TE-5 as well as a nice Meade 4500 both for less than $100 and complete with tripods and EQ mounts that way.The seller said that she just wanted them out of her way. On the other hand,I have seen an 11TE-5 on ebay that the owner has been listing at least $250 to $300 including shipping and there have been no takers. I beieve that some sellers may easily price their instruments out of the market,especially during these rough economic times. Knowledgable buyers will only pay what they think is a fair price for such an item. Are their prices appreciating? I think it depends on the instrument and its condition .
Clear Skies,Gary

#24 Joe Cepleur

Joe Cepleur

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2046
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Dark North Woods

Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:03 PM

Complicating the marketplace, eBay now allows "Buy It Now" pricing as well as auctions, where people list scopes for beyond top dollar. Auctions create a truer marketplace. With fixed pricing, arrogance, cowardice, and foolishness distort the market. The good news is, most overpriced scopes appear not to sell, so auctions effectively yield higher prices.

#25 Preston Smith

Preston Smith

    The Travel Scope Guy

  • *****
  • Posts: 6051
  • Joined: 24 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Eureka, Pa

Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:23 PM

Bottom line is it is till caveat emptor. Sadly, there are some out there who will put something up for sale and have their buddies bid up on it so that it sells at a very high price. When prospective buyers see the high price they assume that the market on that scope is going up. Then, about a week later the scope magically reappears on Ebay - and often sells for the higher amount.

The best thing to do is get as much education about the scopes on forums such as ours. Then YOU can make a wise decision on how much you want to shell out.

I buy a LOT of things on Ebay - not just telescopes. My advice is do not determine what the top price is you are willing to pay for the scope. Rather, determine what is the price you can walk away from the sale with no regrets. That gets rid of the "what ifs" and doubts... ;)






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics