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Classic telescope prices on the rise?

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#1 amicus sidera

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 08:14 AM

Have noticed that asking prices for the classic instruments we all enjoy appear to be creeping up steadily over the last six months to a year or so. It's not so noticeable among those telescopes being sold for, say, $20 at a yard sale by unknowledgeable individuals, but as far as online sales are concerned it seems to be a definite trend, at least to me.

I've also noticed that there are folks who appear to sign up to CN simply to ask about the value of an instrument which has recently come into their possession. Nothing wrong with that, although in some cases it appears to be a "drive-by" of sorts, with the individual having little or no intention of contributing to the forum once their questions are answered.

Curious as to whether anyone else is noticing an overall increase in asking prices. Additionally, thoughts regarding any increase in prices being due, in part, to the utilization of this forum by potential sellers, either directly or via search engine results, to determine a value for a given instrument; in effect, using posts and comments on the forum as what amounts to a free "Price Guide to Classic Telescopes".

Fred

#2 sgorton99

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 08:36 AM

Yes, there seems to be price creep among our classic hobby! Although, there seems to be "hot" areas at any given time. The 4" Unitron for $6k with clock drive went quickly right here on CN. I'm thinking a year or 2 ago they would have done well to get $5k. The Meade RG prices have also about doubled in the last year. Not necessarily because they are excellent EPs, they have just become fashionably collectible all of a sudden :). On the other hand, wonderful scopes like old Caves seem to be practically given away at times, and price drops are common.

#3 terraclarke

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 11:19 AM

Absolutely we have noticed and stated so on several recent threads in this forum. See for instance the eBay thread that was locked earlier this week. Perhaps it should be policy that we don't state prices in the forum when such questions are asked by newbies such as those you speak of. Perhaps, just tell them to set an asking price based on what it's worth to them.

#4 johntrob

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 03:51 PM

Good Idea

#5 tim53

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:12 PM

When new newbies ask me for prices, I try to be blunt and honest with them. Especially when it's about an old c 8 or 2080, because the owner often expects these to be a few percent less than a cpc or lx200.

#6 Sean Cunneen

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:52 PM

Any scopes I own are an absolute bargain at $3000 and up. My eyepieces, $400-$500 minimum. An email from me is worth at least $5 as well. Whew, now I'm on record!

#7 starman876

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 07:06 PM

change is constant in the world as are prices. As less of the vintage scopes become available because they are all in the hands of collectors the prices are going to increase as demand does because more people are now looking for them. I have seen the same happen to vintage audio gear. Look at vintage cars. What makes any of you think that you will be able to keep buying these vintage scopes at the same price as you did years ago.

#8 Bonco

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 08:16 PM

change is constant in the world as are prices. As less of the vintage scopes become available because they are all in the hands of collectors the prices are going to increase as demand does because more people are now looking for them. I have seen the same happen to vintage audio gear. Look at vintage cars. What makes any of you think that you will be able to keep buying these vintage scopes at the same price as you did years ago.


Referring to "Classics" which is hard to define, I'll say those are the quality scopes of our youth which were advertised in Sky and Telescope Magazine and later Astronomy Magazine. We lusted after the best but couldn't afford them. Now we are in our 50's and older, and have some cash to fulfill our dreams. The best of the best will hold value and appreciate to some point. However, in a few years the later generations will not have the nostalgic memories we have and the demand will decrease. Super expensive APO's will do well for years to come but improvements in technology and manufacturing will eventually decrease their desirablity as less expensive alternatives will be offered. Some may and will profit from buying and reselling classics but for me its just the joy of ownership and use. It's not an investment strategy for me.
Bill

#9 sgorton99

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 09:14 PM

:goodjob: and well said. Look at what has happened to the baseball card market! This generation will have no clue what a Unitron is/was, except for what their parents and grandparents show them. Also, the computerized scopes of the 90s and early 2000s will probably have failed beyond reasonable repair - so the "new" classics may be a difficult thing to define.

#10 bremms

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 08:25 AM

I was talking to a friend that indicated that many of these nice classic scopes are great decorative items. Both here and overseas. Explains the Unicorn prices but not a $700 RGO. So between well heeled collectors, high end decorators, speculation and shill bidders the enthusiast looses. Not a big deal for me, since I like to roll my own. Great for the ones here that have a collection. The day I can get $1000 for my sears 6339a it's going out the door.

#11 starman876

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:05 AM

We are collectors of finely engineered and manufactured telescopes. However, inside all of us is that little man that says sell, sell baby sell when the time is right. :lol: :lol:

#12 Da Bear

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:15 AM

Inflation of the US dollar is rising darn fast and therefore we have a concomitant rise in asking prices as a result. The better question is, in 2005 dollars are classic scope prices rising?

I read a lot of astro ads --looking for deals--- and it seems fairly clear that the high end pre- owned modern classics -TAK, AP, TV are still depressed, but stable in 2005 dollars.

Middle tier -Celestron and Meade- prices are still falling slowly in 2005 dollars.

High end collectable Zeiss, Clarks and complete / restored Unitrons are increasing in value slowly, as they always have and always will.

Quality coins --not those with gold or silver - go up 2% to 3% every year in adjusted dollars -- a great long term haven. High end astro gear, in the long run, will follw suit.

There is also a demographic issue in collectable astro-gear and in amateur astronomy. We are an aging population that was excitied by the space race and moon landings during the 60"s. Now many of us have older eyes, sore backs and some are selling off their collections for health related reasons. And at the same time there are fewer younger folks collecting _- a very serious problem -, thus overall demand and inflation adjusted prices are stable at best or more than likely slowly falling.

Da Bear

#13 kansas skies

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 11:57 AM

These are interesting observations. As mentioned above, supply and demand does tend to be the driving force behind prices.

The most finicky of collectors will accept only perfect, mint condition examples and the price at that level is astronomical (pun intended). This is the investment level and the item never comes out of storage. The next tier of collector level would be the person with fairly deep pockets that doesn't mind a fingerprint or two. That person might even set it up for display and possibly use it once in awhile. The above average collector falls next in line. This level of collector has a deep appreciation (along with maybe a little reverance) of the item and has every intention of putting it to repeated use as originally intended. This probably describes most of us. So it goes until you reach the basket-case level. This person is the one that buys something that bears a vague resemblence to the original item, but is probably best packaged in a waste bin. Of course, this is putty in the hands of a true craftsman.

As a collector, there's usually a level that allows most everyone to participate. A problem begins to develop when the demand is great and the higher levels begin to disappear. These levels are then filled price-wise by the level directly below. If this continues long enough, the bottom levels can reach unrealistically high values.

Is this bad or is this good? It all depends on where you sit. If you are in the market to buy, it is bad. If you are an owner that may or may not wish to sell, it is good.

As for answering the question of value to someone who asks - there is only one true indicator and that is compiled from recent market examples. If I own an item and someone were to ask what their example of that same item is worth, the value I state would more than likely be different than that given if I were in the market for that item. There's no reason for me not to answer, however. If I try to give a fair and honest answer, even if slightly jaded by my own perceptions, my answer still has merit. If enough people participate, the answer might then be derived from the collective.

As for the people who sign up simply to ask the question of what their item is worth. Why not? If they get the answer they're looking for, then this forum has served a useful purpose. Then again, maybe something will click and they'll stick around to answer the next question some newcomer to the forum desires to ask.

Bill

#14 sgorton99

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:01 PM

It all comes down to hitting someone's marginal propensity to consume.

#15 starman876

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:27 PM

so

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#16 Joe Cepleur

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 08:03 PM

I admire those of you who so credibly tout how rational forces drive prices, but I season such reason with observations of the frenzied market of eBay. In a worldwide market, there are fewer good buys, because there are always plenty of bidders. Similarly, even a small collection of fools in a vast world may be plenty enough that someone will always overpay by traditional standards, driving prices upwards. This hurts folks like us, who are happy to pay fairly and want to use the scopes.

I had not known decorators were hoarding our scopes, but they and investors could well be the ones driving prices, the uneducated buying for others with no idea and no concern for how much they could save if they tried to be a little bit smart. Twenty-five years ago (Wow! I'm old enough to say that!), I saw the rotted out hulk of a wood-and-canvas canoe hanging in an antique store in New York City. It looked really, really cool among the fine furniture. It was priced at $1,200, which so boggled me that I have never forgotten. The same hulk in its native Maine would have sold to someone wanting to restore it for $100. Because of ignorant, passionate buyers, markets can be ignorant and irrational.

#17 sgorton99

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:28 PM

Yep. All I meant is by definition you will never get more than someone is willing to spend. Ergo if they buy it, you are at the price point that they are willing to purchase. If it is more than they want to spend, they won't buy it. Now, that doesn't mean the decision is rational!

#18 starman876

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:15 PM

Wow, starting to sound like there sure are a lot of opinions here. Maybe we just should vote on which one we like best

#19 kansas skies

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:33 PM

As I said in my previous post, most of the posts that I read in this forum tend to reflect a somewhat healthy attitude of reverence toward classic scopes. These scopes will probably see some use, or they will move on to be replaced by another. This may or may not be true in all cases, but for the most part it's probably a safe assumption. It's also safe to assume that for every collectible item, there are high end collectors that squirrel away the most pristine examples. These mint condition examples are what demand exhorbitantly high prices. Their sad fate is that of being a commodity and nothing else. It really doesn't matter if they're an unusually good example or not, since they will never see use - they just have to remain pristine.

As for ebay, it's simply a resource. If you have an item to sell, you list it and the whole world knows. I don't know about any of you, but if I list an item, I would like to get the most money possible for that item. Of course, when I buy, I like to get the best deal possible. Educating yourself on the market is the key to any successful transaction. There will always be the insanely wild listings, and sometimes these people get lucky. For the most part, I really don't see these dreamers as a driving force in market trends. My philosophy is that if you see it once and you're uncomfortable with the condition or terms, move on. There are very few one of a kind items on ebay or any other internet auction site, especially when dealing with mass produced items.

Quite simply, the driving force behind the rising price on classic telescopes is simply the desire to own. If you want the prices to drop, stop buying. Just don't complain when your own personal collection takes a hit. Sad, but true.

Bill

#20 Napersky

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 10:25 PM

Hey Steve glad you finally got your Unitron. I do beg to differ on the value. Several years ago a 160 with weight drive and home-made pier went for $8,000.

It has been 3 or 5 years since the last sale on either CN classifieds or Amart of a Unitron weight drive and the last one sold for $2,700. That all by itself.

That recent 160 for $6,000 was a great buy. Of course I am particularly biased as I do have a horse in this ring with my club's 160 as you know. I have been attempting to get the Secretary to list it at Auction now for over a year....such with volunteer positions!

Cheers,

Mark

#21 Napersky

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 10:30 PM

Bill yes Supply and Demand. With a bad economy Demand can shrivel up overnight as people cannot afford such luxuries.

I can see the 4" 160 Unitrons going to a low of $4,000 when money is tight and people can't or don't want to buy. Conversely they can hit their high's again also.

#22 sgorton99

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 06:00 AM

Hey Steve glad you finally got your Unitron. I do beg to differ on the value. Several years ago a 160 with weight drive and home-made pier went for $8,000.

It has been 3 or 5 years since the last sale on either CN classifieds or Amart of a Unitron weight drive and the last one sold for $2,700. That all by itself.

That recent 160 for $6,000 was a great buy. Of course I am particularly biased as I do have a horse in this ring with my club's 160 as you know. I have been attempting to get the Secretary to list it at Auction now for over a year....such with volunteer positions!

Cheers,

Mark


Thanks Mark. No worries on pricing, as there are so few examples of these you just never know! I do agree that the weight driven clock drive is pretty darn rare and hard to find. Two people who really want one can quickly get the price up there.

#23 strdst

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 03:59 AM

Absolutely we have noticed and stated so on several recent threads in this forum. See for instance the eBay thread that was locked earlier this week. Perhaps it should be policy that we don't state prices in the forum when such questions are asked by newbies such as those you speak of. Perhaps, just tell them to set an asking price based on what it's worth to them.


Perhaps we shouldn't speak to "newbies" with worth/price questions! Make it a policy not to? And then the hapless new owner of a Unitron 114 posts it on ebay for $700 and gets ridiculed to death here for being greedy... because according to "us" it is only worth $235? What do you want?


http://www.cloudynig...5411070/page...


other keith

#24 sgorton99

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 07:21 AM

If their first post is "I found this at a garage sale for next to nothing, how much can I get for it?" I tend to ignore them. They can list it on ebay and the market will set a price for them. On the other hand, the Unitron 145C I bought the "newbie" listed in classifieds with the pure intent of selling it - I don't see anything wrong with that. I called him, he said he got it from an uncle, I told him to keep it and he said he just wanted it to get used by astronomy folks and had no interest. I met him 75 miles away and purchased it, to my knowledge he has never been back to CN again. http://www.cloudynig...ct=58333&sor...

#25 Ron500E

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:32 PM

Perhaps it should be policy that we don't state prices in the forum when such questions are asked by newbies such as those you speak of.


Terra:

I have to respectively disagree. I am new to the hobby and would like to find out what some things are worth. Not so much to "make a killing" but to avoid "over paying" equally important, not to waste someone's time for something that is out of budget or even to get "taken" by paying too much.
The knowledge base here is immense and I feel that most newbies would benefit from knowing approximate values.
As an example, I have a 57 356A Porsche that is for sale. I have seen prices for cars in similar condition anywhere from 40K to 140K. Imagine being new to the hobby and buying something for 80K only to find out that a similar car could have been had for 50K. That's one sure way to turn new people off from the hobby.
My car may be worth 20K to me but if everyone else is selling theirs for 50K I'd be a fool to let mine go for what it's worth to me.
And then it brings up the question, "when does one stop being a newbie?" I have collected stamps for decades but never joined a club, local or national until recently. So to many I am a newbie but yet my knowledge is, perhaps, equal to those who have been in clubs for 15 years.
Another potential issue is when it comes to restoring something. Using the car analogy again, it cost pretty much the same, in materials an labor, to paint a car. Let's say 10K. One would be foolish to spend that money on a 1972 MG Midget. On the other hand if one had a 32 Bugatti or 55 Ferrari that price would be well worth it.
As a newbie I just restored my 8" Edmunds, it was a cost no object restoration even though I planned to sell it. I could have easily put 2K into it, overkill of course and probably not worth it for the Edmund, but if it were a 6" Alvan Clark ... well, you get the idea.
Just my opinion nothing more.
Kind regards,
Ron






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