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Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes

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#51 Datapanic

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:53 PM

When the current crop of 50-year-old-plus Unitron and Questar collectors reach old age and attempt to sell their valued instruments, they may be in for a rude awakening to discover that the market for relatively small-aperture refractors and catadioptrics has itself become quite small, regardless of any supposed mechanical and optical perfection which the instruments might possess. It will not be our world any longer, in which Sputnik and Moon landings were childhood wayposts, but that of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who will live in a world that we likely cannot imagine at this present time, and who may well have but little attachment to, or use for, their ancestor's archaic instruments, no matter how finely crafted.

As Horace wrote, "Eheu fugaces labuntur anni"...

Fred


Boy does this paragraph ring true. I believe, as you apparently do, that the price of certain classic instruments such as Unitron telescopes is largely nostalgia driven. In our youth back in the 50's and 60's, these were highly coveted but unobtainable. Some of us in our 30's bought our first Unitrons and some waited until later. (I am now 60, but was 33 when I got my Unitron #152 4" equatorial). The young adults of today entering the hobby did not grow up in an age where Unitrons were advertised and much sought after.
I feel that interest will wane and prices will stabilize and likely even fall (factoring in inflation effect) as many of us assume the horizontal position.

Barry Simon


Once everyone who wants a Unitron (or whatever) at a good price, gets a Unitron at a good price, the bubble is going to pop. Think of it as the Telescope Bubble.

#52 terraclarke

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:55 PM

Classic Caves, Criterions, and other well built classic Newtonian water heaters are cool, I only denigrate the ones that look like clothes hampers and garb.... or, excuse me, dobsonians :roflmao:

#53 starman876

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:05 PM

What would life be if we could not poke fun at it. It would be a very dull world. This is a great forum and most people appear to enjoy life and have a great sense of humor. So let us all take a deep breath and relax. I do see that some take things a lot more seriously than I do. As the old saying goes. I will be laying flowers on your grave and buying your Unitrons at your estate sale :cool:

#54 JWW

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:52 PM

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#55 mikey cee

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:41 PM

Are those pics of 35 and 50 gallons units? :lol: :lol:

#56 JustinO

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:45 PM

The fairest price is found in the largest market of knowledgeable buyers and sellers.

Where it really gets complicated is trading. How many Clark eyepieces can you get for a 4" Unitron? We should make a huge spreadsheet.

#57 Datapanic

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:52 PM

Frankly, I really don't care about prices.

#58 clintwhitman

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:13 AM

How much is the 1970 155c in its Original wood, cardboard boxes and wrapping paper. I have never seen another like it for sale. And I will hopefully be able to keep it till I am done here.
Well if I died tomorrow and all my scopes got dumped off at the salvation army, I can say I have gotten every penny's worth from my collection!! :p
Beside I am going to be compacted and buried in my nine inch refractor and have them use the rest of my collection to backfill the hole.... :roflmao:
(aveman
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The 66 El Camino is a Cowboy Cadillac

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#59 johntrob

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 06:02 AM

A sense of humor is a valuable asset. If we cannot laugh at/with ourselves, how can we justify laughing at/with others.

#60 starman876

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:32 AM

To be honest when I see pictures of those Cave's I drool. I would love to have one. Maybe someday I will. They are a beautiful scope :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:

#61 JonH

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:55 AM

Well said Johann, the caves' appeal is reflected in the sentiments people express when they see any well crafted scope. Personally I dont remember the glory days of the unitron and was not around for the chequred flag at the end of the space race, although I hear you guys won. I had a chance encounter with Unitrons (a blog written by Clint) and was instantly hooked. Many of my friends in their mid twenties admire these exquisite instruments and one of them recently purchased a vintage f15 achromat. While you are free to take your scopes to your graves I hope you wont do so as there are (in my experience) many younger astronomers who appreciate the higher quality workmanship in a vintage Zeiss compared to a contemporary Meade or Orion. Ultimately, these are the people who will be establishing scope prices.

#62 BarrySimon615

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:10 AM

Frankly, I really don't care about prices.


Interesting position statement....given your Username (Datapanic).

Barry Simon

#63 starman876

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:28 AM

Barry

In all honesty I have voted. The only thing I want to mention is that a 75mm equatorial recently sold for over $2000 and you really do not allow that benchmark in your poll. So, if you wish the poll to be somewhat accurate maybe an adjustment in pricing should be made. Statistics are only as good as the data provided. Omit certain facts and the statistics are not accurate.

#64 highertheflyer

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:31 AM

Just perusing Google search for Unitron Price Lists, I came upon another one.

1960 Unitron Price list.
1.6" Altazimith----------------------$75.00 US$
2.4" " ---------------------$125.00
2.4" Equatorial---------------------$225.00
3" Altazimuth---------------------$265.00
3" Equatorial ---------------------$435.00
3" Photo-Equatorial----------------$550.00
4" Altazimuth-----------------------$465.00
4" Equatorial-----------------------$785.00
4" Photo-Equatorial----------------$980.00
4" Equatorial w/clock drive Model 160V--------------$985.00
4" Equatorial w/clock drive Model 166V-------------$1075.00
4" Photo-Equatorial w/clock drive and Astro Camera $1175.00
4" Photo-Equatorial as above with pier---------------$1280.00
5" Photo-equatorial as above (pier ?)-----------------$2275.00
6" Equatorial w/clock drive---------------------------$5125.00
6" Photo-Equatorial w/4" guide scope & camera-----$5660.00
6" Photo-Equatorial with 3" Astrographic camera----$6075.00

Thinking my 1960 Chevy Convertible cost me used in 1963, $1,000 !

No wonder those heavyweights did not find owners.

Jim

#65 terraclarke

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:40 AM

I think there will always be "reflector people" and "refractor people." WhiIe have stated many times my preference for refractors, I do also realize the utility, the inherent beauty, and desire for fine reflecting telescopes. My second and third telescopes in my lifetime were reflectors, both ATMd. I would love to have my 6 inch back but it appears to be long gone. Any derisive comments I made about reflecting telescopes in this thread were intended to poke a little fun and inject a little good humor. I think, as others have stated, that we are overall a very merry and cohesive group and I love that about this forum. If you want to see some real attitude, just take a trip over to the Refractors forum and read what some APO owners have to say about our beloved Fraunhofer achromats but that is neither here nor there.

On another note, some have said that interest in the classics will wain as we die off and that what drives our passion is the nostalgic longing to own some of those highly desirable and well marketed telescopes of our youth during the early space age, that were then out of our reach, the Unitrons and Caves for instance. Yes, I do believe that there is something to this, but I think it is also in large part, the desire to own something that is beautifully made, expertly crafted, and used and treated lovingly by an earlier generation. I live in a craftsman bungalow that was built more than 20 years before I was born, rather than in a 1950s ranch such as the one I grew up in. It is decorated with furniture and antiques that are of its era if not earlier, rather than artifacts of my own youth. So I don't buy the argument solely that we are trying to recapture or relive our youth by owning a telescope that would hark back to that time period.

I love Unitrons not just because I wanted one when I was young, but more importantly because they are lovely precision instruments of a bygone era. Even though they are expensive today (remember, we have seen that they really cost little more than when they were new when we factor in inflation), they are much more affordable than telescopes made by Mogey, Brashear, Clark, Zeiss, or Bausch and Lomb in the 1920s or earlier. I would love to own, but will never be able to afford a 1920s Zeiss or a 1900 Clark, but I can afford a Zeiss or several Unitrons made in the 60s. So I think our 1950s and 1960s telescopes will be every bit as desirable to people who love fine old things in the future as an Alvin Clark and Sons is to us today.

#66 BarrySimon615

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:34 AM

Barry

In all honesty I have voted. The only thing I want to mention is that a 75mm equatorial recently sold for over $2000 and you really do not allow that benchmark in your poll. So, if you wish the poll to be somewhat accurate maybe an adjustment in pricing should be made. Statistics are only as good as the data provided. Omit certain facts and the statistics are not accurate.


Re - the 75 mm equatorial selling for over $2000.00 - was this a Model #142 (basic equatorial with standard focuser and no guidescope and no Uni-Balance), or was this a Model #145, the photo-equatorial with deluxe focuser, photo-guide scope and Uni-Balance? The #145 with it's additional features given the same condition would typically result in an upward price jump of between $500 and $1000.00 to most buyers/collectors. Additionally there were also fewer #145's making them all the more desirable and able to garner a higher price.

My poll for the #142 has $1400 and up as the highest selection, so this would obviously be the place to register your vote, if indeed it was a model #142 that sold for over $2000.00. If it was a model #145, you should not have voted for it in the #142 category. (It may be included later in a separate poll, and if so there will be a bracket that takes the price over $2000.00.)

Keep in mind too, that in the original parameters for the poll I said that the price should not reflect the price of the motor drive, if available. Many of these scopes originally sold without that option. Many buyers did opt to get one later as additional funds became available.

When the poll is over this is how I will establish a price guideline - let's simplify it and say that we have 4 people saying something is worth between $100 and $200 (mid-point is $150 and as there are 4 voters, 4x150 = 600, we also have 2 people establishing a value of between $200 and $300, so we take $250 as a mid-point and as there are 2 voters, 2x250 = 500. If this is all the data we have 1100 total and 6 voters, so 1100/6 = 183.33 or $183.33 as an average price for the item in very good to excellent condition, complete as originally sold. I would think that the $183.33 could be a benchmark for right now - not the year 2010, nor the year 2015 for whatever this number represents. This assumes no one tries to game the system by underpricing or overpricing the models listed. This should be possible if those participating are only entering data for these same models as they purchased them or sold them.

This is only a benchmark. Some people that want something bad enough (in the case of my Unitron 75 mm richfield refractor with #128 mount that was purchased for $1900.00 over 10 years ago) or someone sells something much lower than what market forces would dictate will throw the numbers off, but hopefully the highs and the lows will balance out. Better to have additional guidelines than fewer or none at all.

Barry Simon

#67 starman876

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:46 AM

that was a 142
http://www.ebay.com/...160987467374...

#68 starman876

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:48 AM

Also, note that the 102mm equatorials have been going for $3000 and up in really nice condition.

#69 terraclarke

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:13 PM

The 90mm Sears #6345 has been relisted and the price dropped from $1100 to $850. Thats not a Unitron but otherwise a great scope which some on here have compared to a 4 inch Unitron. So what you think of that :question: Some prices are dropping; that one by ~25% in a month's time. Yup, April 15th is just around the corner and some of us are giving Uncle Sam a hefty check right about now, but others are getting substantial refunds from the tax man. What's up with that :foreheadslap:

http://www.ebay.com/...-/2908909898...

#70 starman876

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:48 PM

That sears will never be a Unitron. However, it is a rare beast.

#71 will808

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 06:42 PM

Love the El Camino Caveman...suspected you werent a one trick pony!...i'm the proud second owner of a 65 Mustang Fastback & have had it for 21 years...even the East coast folks rock too!..Thanks for all of your thoughts in this forum over the years...we likely wouldnt even know about John Pons/Steve and the GOTO 6" refractor if it wasnt for you...what a story that is...take care & enjoy the Pearl,yet another unbelievable story...West coast rocks...Will.

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#72 BarrySimon615

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:57 PM

that was a 142
http://www.ebay.com/...160987467374...


Judging by the pictures on the link, that is certainly a time capsule scope. Essentially showroom new and worthy of some extra dollars.

Barry Simon

#73 BarrySimon615

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:09 PM

That sears will never be a Unitron. However, it is a rare beast.


Not the aura of a Unitron, but fully as good a performer When I re-emerged from my high school/college years tunnel....and saw the light, the first telescope I bought was s Sears 3" f/16 equatorial refractor that I paid $160 for. It had a blue/gray tube, blue objective cell and focuser and a black equatorial mount with a declination shaft that was captive both above and below the polar axis. The tripod had metal tubular legs. It was an amazing performer, easily able to split the Double-Double with a 28 RKE eyepiece (less than 43x). An amazing scope, fully the optical equal of any 3" Unitron I ever had.

Later Unitron 3" tube assemblies that I had were all very capable performers, but I never had one better optically than that 3" Sears Discoverer tube assembly.

What really sets a Unitron apart is the mounts, not the tubes.

Barry Simon

#74 mikey cee

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:12 PM

At this point in time this Tasco 20TE "Obervatory" model is not for sale. Someday maybe but I still use it on a semi regular basis. It currently sits in the SE corner of the observatory and easily wheels out to an observing position below the main scope. Image quality is amazing. I honestly haven't a clue to it's value having seen none anywhere for sale. Hmmmm :question: just curious. ;) Mike

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#75 mikey cee

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:27 PM

Another angle in a more recent pic.

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