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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta
      #6141942 - 10/16/13 10:16 PM

Never fear; I believe this thread falls within the Terms of Service, because it is not about buying or selling any particular scope, but about becoming an active buyer-and-seller in general.

Fairly often, I see desirable scopes on Craig's List or advertised locally, and I want to buy them all. (I suspect many of you know the impulse.) In my large, rural area, I may well be the only potential buyer, judging by how long the ads are posted before, apparently, not resulting in a sale.

The trouble is a lack of infinite space and money. One solution would be to rescue these orphans, enjoy them, and then send them on to new owners. That, presumably, is all of you. After a life of having trouble letting go of anything, could necessity be turning me into a scope yenta?

My prices would be fair and I would earn a reputation for careful shipping. Would this mean I could pretty well always find new owners? Presumably, people cruise the classifieds here on Cloudy Nights. I'm guessing that, by the time I drove around collecting old scopes, I might have half a chance of breaking even financially, which is good enough for a hobby.

Following this model, in the past year, a blue Sears EQ, a white Sears EQ, a gold Sears Tower Alt/Az, and a Monolux EQ would all have passed through my mitts. I could have kept any of them for as long as I liked, up to the limits of promises made to Lady Cepleur. Up to four of you would have nifty, new-to-you, classic 60mm refractors. I'd have had my fun without breaking the bank, crowding the house, or tormenting Lady Cepleur. To the contrary, I think she'd enjoy the hunt!

Please could some of you who are involved in this sort of finding, buying, and selling comment upon how closely the reality matches the dream? Have you pretty well always been able to sell when the time came? What about buyers; do people love these classics so well as to buy them, not just read about them? In most cases, I'm not talking Unitrons here, just good, classic scopes that deserve a new lease on life. I would not find one blockbuster after another, but I may find some favorite scopes from everyone's childhood. Any hope, or should I hang on to my money and not prepare a corner of the garage?

Besides, it's not that there would never be a blockbuster. It was quite a drive into the boonies to buy my Tasco 7te-5, but that one's a keeper!


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fjs
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/25/13

Loc: Olympic Peninsula, USA
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #6141979 - 10/16/13 10:33 PM

Hi Joe, Well, for what it's worth, I can give you my "answer". I believe the truth is....IT DEPENDS! If you are not looking to "make money", but only to say, try different scopes, then pass them on; I say, go for it...with one. Then see if you can sell it for what you need to. If it works out, you can try it with another. I'm gonna guess you might find fewer appealing scopes than you might think. If you find a $300 sandcast C-8 remember me!

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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: fjs]
      #6142120 - 10/17/13 12:19 AM

Quote:

I'm gonna guess you might find fewer appealing scopes than you might think.




Ay; there's the rub. So far over the past few years, I've snatched one great 60mm refractor that I'd hoped to find for myself in a year-and-a-half of searching. I've also passed on a handful of other perfectly good scopes. Now I'm wondering, were they good enough that people would have wanted to buy them? What about similar scopes I'll see in the coming year? Depends what I find. Is there a market for all good scopes in good condition, at the right price? Or are some scopes worth remembering, but not necessarily buying? It may be that most members here are awash in scopes, and only want to buy great ones.

In this same time frame, I also found two great orange tube C8s, one in excellent condition, the other refurbished by this forum's own Larry Beach, Orion61. Talk about lucky! Next C8, if there is one, I might offer to a new home!

Who else has had any luck bringing scopes to fans of classics?

Edited by Joe Cepleur (10/17/13 07:46 AM)


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DarkStar1984
member


Reged: 07/10/12

Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #6144331 - 10/18/13 07:30 AM

I think that what you are proposing would be good for new and seasoned astronomers. There are alot of us just getting into this terrific hobby but either can't afford the great classics or don't know which scopes to purchase.

I have a feeling that many "newbies" interested in owning a classic telescope buys the wrong scope and are dissappointed or see the price of the Unitrons and Zeiss and just cringe, especially if this is their first scope.

Finding and selling lets say second tier classics would really be great but what are they?

I was wondering if anyone in this forum has ever compiled a list of first tier (Unitrons), second tier and third tier classic telescopes based on quality optics and "WOW" factors (whatever that might be). Also, what "sleeper scopes" are out there?

I am not too sure how profitable of a venture this would be but I think it would be a great service.

Just my two cents.

Thanks Joe for posing this question.


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fjs
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/25/13

Loc: Olympic Peninsula, USA
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: DarkStar1984]
      #6144359 - 10/18/13 08:05 AM

Quote:

Finding and selling lets say second tier classics would really be great but what are they?




This can be an easy question to answer...that can then extend to fill a book. The quick, short answer is: "anything that comes in a wood box".

For what it's worth:

1: 1960's Tasco 7TE-5 should be first on the list. Mine is truly the jewel of my 'collection'. I have not heard anyone say they came across a bad example(talking about undamaged ones here).

2: Criterion RV-6. I don't have any experience with these, but 6 inches is a good size. Everyone that has one likes it. It has to be the "bang for the buck" leader among classics.

3: 1970's Celestron C8. Again, no experience, but billions of positive CN postings can't be wrong. Also wins the aperture/portability contest.

Anyway, that's my short list of what people should buy. What they will buy is a completely different matter.


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: DarkStar1984]
      #6144426 - 10/18/13 08:49 AM

Joe,
It's certainly worth a try!

Here's my experience.....Normally, my efforts have been directed at 'third-tier' scopes - the inexpensive 60's that appear all around us, some of which have been vintage, some fairly recent, which I've cleaned, polished, sometimes painted, usually added some somewhat better EP's, and passed on to friends and/or friends' kids, always as gifts.

In the spring, CL brought me to a 'second-tier' maybe even approaching first, a 50-year-old 60mm Asahi-Pentax, that I bought, and did a 'gonna keep this one' repair/restoration on it, put at least 40 hours into it. I already had 3 other 60's, but this was my first really nice vintage. Well, as luck, and CL would have it, a month ago, a 77mm Swift appeared before me, and just yesterday, in fact, finished its journey, and came to live here. As I have my scopes to use, not to collect, when the Swift appeared, I put my recently done Asahi on the classifieds at a mid-level price, befitting an all shined-up and ready to use/display scope and accesories. In the end, it didn't sell, but is soon to get traded for an 8" dob (thanks, Charlie!) which, being a refractor guy since the dawn of time, will be a whole new experience for me.

Long story short....did I earn a few dollars for my efforts for my efforts? No. Will I get a new toy? Yes. Mostly, I enjoy the process of recovering/restoring scopes otherwise destined for the great dumpster in the sky, and get to catch some photons as they pass through my hands. I think if I got a little more serious about it, I (or you) could make a modest income from the service, but I don't think untold wealth is in the picture. I think something to aim toward is to try for local-ish pickup and sale, shipping these things costs more than the scopes, usually....

But, buy one and see!
Russ


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: DarkStar1984]
      #6144459 - 10/18/13 09:12 AM

Quote:

I am not too sure how profitable of a venture this would be but I think it would be a great service.





No problem. I'm not looking for this to be profitable. Just wondering whether a bleeding-heart scope lover who hates to see an advertised classic remain homeless might be able to roughly cover expenses, so I though I'd ask the advice of experienced scope hunters.

My area appears to be rich with good classic telescopes. I suspect that, because it is rural, it lacks the population of scopeheads necessary to readily buy what is advertised. If these scopes were in a metropolitan area, they'd move much faster. The problem is that, although they are good enough to preserve, most of them are not exceptional examples. Last week, Terra drove over 600 miles to fetch a Unitron 114, a scope that was clearly worth the trip. But, the more basic classics that, in good condition, might sell for $50 to $150 -- who would risk so long a drive for a scope like that? My point is that I am already fairly near these scopes.

As an example, Within twenty miles of where I'll be going early next week was a Sears Tower Alt/Az 60mm. The gold paint suggests it's older than most other Sears. The ad has been pulled, so this one appears to have been sold, but suppose it were still available and proved to be in as good condition as the photographs suggested. Most recent asking price was $30. I'd have fetched the scope, enjoyed it for a while, and sold it for a fair price pretty well covering my travel and purchase. I'd have had the fun of the hunt and experience with another classic, Lady Cepleur would not have a house overfilled with another scope permanently in residence, and whoever bought it from me would have a known-good classic that was worth having, but not worth their driving hundreds of miles to investigate. The critical question, as I see it, is whether scopes at this level would be easy enough to resell. Maybe people will buy the exotics, knowing it's less likely one would appear in their area, but would rather source more modest classics themselves.

<><><><><>

There are a lot of sleepers out there. The trick, which I learned here on Cloudy Nights, is to pay less attention to the brand and more to the maker's trademark. So, for example, my Jason 313 was made by Towa ("Circle-T"). It has the same optics, mechanicals, and mount as the more expensive version of the same scope sold by Sears. The Sears has a gorgeous enamel painted tube. The Jason has a much less expensive anodized tube. It's not nearly so handsome and mine is missing the wooden cabinet (if it ever had one), but the experience at the eyepiece is the same. A fine scope for the $75 I paid!


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #6144511 - 10/18/13 09:41 AM

Quote:

No problem. I'm not looking for this to be profitable. Just wondering whether a bleeding-heart scope lover who hates to see an advertised classic remain homeless might be able to roughly cover expenses, so I though I'd ask the advice of experienced scope hunters.




I suspect it is doable.. my own approach has been to buy scopes that I was interested in and when I was finished, when I had gotten my money's worth, pass them on to someone who could given them the loving and caring they needed.

The biggest hassle is just packaging the scope, finding the right box, taking the time to carefully package the thing. It's real work and it takes me a while to get up the gumption to do it.

Jon


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BigC
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/29/10

Loc: SE Indiana
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #6144525 - 10/18/13 09:51 AM

Joe,
Your desire to see scopes be used is great!

The biggest problem is keeping shipping costs low or at least reasonable while also ensuring the classic is protected against damage.It is all too possible for shipping costs to exceed the value of common classics.But someone may still be willing to pay that just to get something not otherwise available.In order to hold shipping costs down you need to pack the scope yourself using recycled materials and boxes.For rare classics that you don't keep there will be buyers willing to pay more.

You could make some money on scopes you buy really cheap and subsidize the shipping on others so that you don't lose money overall,if your desire is only to pass scopes into new hands. There is nothing wrong with making a bit for your time and trouble,I think that is called business.

Or do as thousands do on ebay and buy cheap,TRY to sell high, and always make the buyer pay for "professional" packing and shipping.


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6144536 - 10/18/13 09:55 AM

Gosh, Jon -- thanks;

If you say it can be done, that's heartening! I've read many stories in which you've passed scopes along to others.

Packaging scopes for shipping is indeed a pain. Alt/Az scopes beat EQ for that! No counterweight to destroy the box's other contents, or to raise the shipping costs.


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: BigC]
      #6144552 - 10/18/13 10:07 AM

Thanks, BigC;

Most encouraging to see that your plan matches mine! For boxes, I'd become quite the dumpster diver. The local hardware store gets good, strong boxes that I could have for free.

Quote:

You could make some money on scopes you buy really cheap and subsidize the shipping on others so that you don't lose money overall, if your desire is only to pass scopes into new hands.




That's really how I see this. I don't think there is money to be made other than maybe enough to cover costs, so I am really looking only to finance a hobby. Driving around costs money, but scopes are sometimes available so cheaply as to make the hunt and reselling possible, I hope.


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #6144560 - 10/18/13 10:12 AM

Quote:


Gosh, Jon -- thanks;

If you say it can be done, that's heartening! I've read many stories in which you've passed scopes along to others.




Often when I purchase a classic, I justify it in my mind by the fact that I know I could recover the cost by selling it. When the time comes that I have gotten my money's worth, money is not sufficient incentive to part with it..

Say I have $50 invested in an nice Japanese 80mm F/11, it might cost $50 to ship it. I am not going to sell it just to get my $100 back. What it takes for me to go to the effort of packaging it and shipping it, is knowing that someone will be appreciating it the way it should be appreciated. So passing a scope on to Joe B. or to Justin or someone else, the reward is to see the care and attention they give.

So the danger I see in your scheme is that you will end up with a bunch of scopes that you are attached to.. On the front end, buying them, fixing them and selling them seems like a sound plan but on the back end, parting with them, that's where difficulty arises.

Jon


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Chuck HardsModerator
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/03/10

Loc: The Great Basin
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #6144563 - 10/18/13 10:14 AM

If you don't approach it as a money-making operation, you will certainly lose money, even if your motivations are pure of heart and you think you're just finding new homes for orphans.

I've got a 4-digit, 100% eBay feedback rating, split about 50/50 between buying and selling (not just astro stuff, but a diverse assortment) over nearly 15 years. Not a business but strictly oriented toward my hobbies and those of my late mother. Packaging & shipping takes a LOT of time as well as money for materials. Even putting together a decent on-line listing takes time. Buyers rarely appreciate a careful packaging job, from my experience, and don't understand that even if you pack something in plate steel, the carrier can find a way to damage it and the contents. Few want to spring for insurance, and even complain about shipping costs- blaming the seller- even when less than what it actually cost to ship. Some people can't be satisfied unless an item is absolutely free and they get it immediately. And even then they'd find something to complain about.

There are great, understanding buyers out there to be sure, but they are the minority.

Good luck Joe, I hope you can make it work!


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starman876
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/08

Loc: VA
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Chuck Hards]
      #6144577 - 10/18/13 10:23 AM

You and I must be dealing with the same people on Ebay

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DarkStar1984
member


Reged: 07/10/12

Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6144586 - 10/18/13 10:33 AM

Joe,

I think that your passion for the hobby and astronomy is tremendous. I was really touched and impacted at reading the recent posts about Jon's generosity and the appreciation and excitement that the buyer (I think it was Justin) had.

As mentioned by others, you will probably be close to breaking even with the cost but how can you measure the excitement and desire of bringing others to the hobby? You can't it is priceless. That is one of the biggest things that we all should strive to do. There is nothing like seeing or hearing the excitement of others when they look through an eyepiece and see the Moon, Saturn or a double star for the first time.

You and Jon really do have big hearts for this hobby!


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: starman876]
      #6144590 - 10/18/13 10:37 AM

A product I used to build and sell, I ended up building plywood shipping boxes for, it turned out to be faster, easier, and probably just as cheap, as finding, buying, or modifying, cardboard, and plywood is harder for the shippers to squash...... and when a potential customer realizes that a modest fee for your time and materials, plus the actual shipping costs of a scope, can hit $100 easily, a couple-hour scenic drive in the country starts looking like a good idea! I live rural, have sometimes agreed to meet a buyer in town (right off the highway) which has helped to seal the deal. The Asahi I bought a few months ago, the seller met me at the interstate exit, partly to make the sale easier, and partly because I don't think he wanted some unknown guy driving up to his house. Worked for me....
R


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terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: roscoe]
      #6144651 - 10/18/13 11:12 AM

I heard this in an old Sherlock Holmes movie. S.H. (played quintessentially by Basil Rathbone) states:

"A collector buys, but never sells."

Apparently it is an old adage. Generally when I buy an old telescope, it is because I want it for my collection. I am careful and discriminating about what I buy. I would regret the sale of any real members of my collection. On the other hand, occasionally scopes just come to me needing a little TLC. Those I fix up and move on. A couple of weeks ago I received an old Meade 60x700 alt-az refractor and a Meade 4.5 inch reflector. Both 20 or so years old, and not really in working order. They required cleaning, collimating, and swapping out a few broken or missing parts and became quite serviceable, fairly nice looking little scopes. I doubt I have over 10 dollars in one and 30 in the other. I enjoyed the tinkering as telescopes have become my hobby as much as astronomy. Those and others like them will go in time. I already have found a home for the little refractor. I will play with the reflector for a while and then send it on its way. I only do this locally. I hate packing and shipping and then worrying while things are in transit. I will do that on parts I no longer need, but very seldom with complete telescopes.


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Chuck HardsModerator
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/03/10

Loc: The Great Basin
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: terraclarke]
      #6144740 - 10/18/13 11:58 AM

Terra, a lot of buyers aren't formal "collectors" such as yourself. They are "accumulators". They buy on impulse because they saw one somewhere before, or read about it here on CN, and the stuff just piles-up after one use. If Joe Schmoe the Scope Guru thinks it's cool, they want to have one too. No restoration, no TLC, just sitting in a garage or barn somewhere to deteriorate. It's a shame.

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starman876
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/28/08

Loc: VA
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: Chuck Hards]
      #6144936 - 10/18/13 01:44 PM

I just want them all

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Chuck HardsModerator
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/03/10

Loc: The Great Basin
Re: Buying and Selling: Becoming a Scope Yenta new [Re: starman876]
      #6144950 - 10/18/13 01:53 PM

Quote:

I just want them all




For some people, it's old newspapers piled up to the ceiling. For others, it's cats.

Telescopes don't smell bad in large numbers, and generally aren't a fire hazard. You could do worse.


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