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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new
      #5557902 - 12/06/12 05:12 PM

Peter Abrahams's post in another thread may have begun to solve a mystery. My club received a marvelous donation, a home-built f/23 Mak. I promised to provide the donor with an appraisal for her taxes, but have, until now, had no idea where to begin.

The scope is beautifully machined of aluminum. That's the home-built part. This tube is then outfitted with a Unitron focuser, finder, and eyepieces. The optics are not home made. They were manufactured by Three B Optical Company of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. The included paperwork shows that these optics were purchased in 1964, and were guaranteed to be 1/8 wave or better in mercury light. The maker, although dear to the donor, was surely unknown in ATM circles; this is not a Porter. Obviously, pictures would help.

Still -- are homebuilt scopes generally of little value, even with excellent machining, Unitron parts, and certified optics? Can I safely tell the donor that the scope is worth one- to two-hundred dollars, but no more?


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5557911 - 12/06/12 05:16 PM

What is the aperture?

JimC


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5557932 - 12/06/12 05:25 PM

Quote:

What is the aperture?

JimC




Yes; sorry for the oversight! The documentation states:

4.5" Maksutov primary

4.45" Maksutov corrector


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albert1
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/01/07

Loc: Southern New Jersey
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5558043 - 12/06/12 06:35 PM

Have you looked through it yet Joe? Can you post pics?

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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: albert1]
      #5558161 - 12/06/12 07:45 PM

The paperwork is currently in my possession, but not the scope. I may have pics to post; I'll check. Hate to brag, but... I could not get the scope to focus, so I delivered it to the club's optician, who reports:

"very nice sharp planetary images... it's a gem."

It would be in his nature to have star tested it, but I don't have that report yet, nor do I know how he got it to focus. Not a problem with a draw tube!


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mustgobigger
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/12/07

Loc: Michigan
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5558196 - 12/06/12 08:05 PM

I have a custom made f/20 6"
Mac and had the same focusing
problem.
Turned out the secondary was
Off a little in distance and after
A little adjustment it came onto
Focus.
Great planetary scope....but heavy.
mine also has a unitron focuser
And electric focus control.
I would think mine is worth 500.00
The optics were custom made by
Atm'er.


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actionhac
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/09/08

Loc: Seattle
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5558212 - 12/06/12 08:21 PM

Cave bought cassegrain optics from Three-B.
It may be a great scope.
I recommend a star test.
ATM scopes are marvelous to restore and test, and put into service if the optics are good. I rarely am disappointed. Usually the builder puts his or her all into the project.
A lot of times the builder has some ingenious idea to try out that can't be found commercially. Or just can do it better than anything that can be bought and not satisfied with someone else's workmanship.

Robert


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: actionhac]
      #5558754 - 12/07/12 07:33 AM Attachment (78 downloads)

Took a few quick pictures to mail to the club's Vice President of Equipment when we first received the scope. The box is not fine woodworking, but is perfectly custom-fitted and protective.

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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5558757 - 12/07/12 07:34 AM Attachment (76 downloads)

It is amazingly beautiful in person, a real shock when one opens the box. Obviously, we'll need better pictures in good light when the scope is back in my possession. Given my impatience to watch Jupiter rise over the lake through it, perhaps that will be soon!

The scope was a gift from the builder's widow. She originally inquired about selling it, but upon seeing the wild excitement it inspired in our club, she donated it instead. Her husband had loved this scope into being, so she enjoyed knowing it would continue to receive devoted appreciation.

Still, it must have a value for her taxes. What might I tell her it is worth?

Edited by Joe Cepleur (12/07/12 07:40 AM)


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5560601 - 12/08/12 10:02 AM

This thread began with the notion that an ATM scope would never bring more than $200 at auction, but now adds a knowledgable collecter's opinion that an ATM in his collection is worth $500. Can anyone report on verified prices paid for ATMs at auction? I, and the donor of my club's new ATM Mak, would be grateful for your help.

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John Jarosz
Astro Gearhead
*****

Reged: 04/25/04

Loc: Fairfax, Iowa
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5560622 - 12/08/12 10:18 AM

Antiques are worth what someone would pay to buy them. Appraisers use data from prior sales of identical or similar items to arrive at their 'best guess estimate' of what they THINK someone would pay for an item. The value could change significantly if there were two people attempting to buy the same unique item.

Finding one person with a scope that he says is worth $500 doesn't necessarily change the value of all the other scopes out there. If he tries to sell his scope at $500 and no one buys it, then it's not worth $500.

The trickiest thing to appraise are items that are unique, where there are no other examples of the same item.

John


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mustgobigger
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/12/07

Loc: Michigan
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: John Jarosz]
      #5560659 - 12/08/12 10:43 AM

Thing is...you have known components ..
Looks like a unitron finder and rings.
That's $100.00
Unitron focuser $100.00
And a possible cave quality mirror
And secondary if it tests good
Should bring another $100.00
So you can safely say at least
$300.00 and that's low side.
Even if you have no intention
Of splitting it up.
Just my opinion.


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: mustgobigger]
      #5560709 - 12/08/12 11:16 AM

If someone from the astronomy club could characterize the mechanical and optical performance, and if a money back guarantee was offered, I think it would be pretty compelling at $500 if the performance is excellent.

JimC


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5561244 - 12/08/12 05:32 PM

These are helpful posts, thank you. Yes; every component that the maker did not machine himself is Unitron, including two eyepieces not yet accounted for in the $300 minimum value as parts. With them, it's worth $350 to $400. I'll star test it when it's back in my hands. I know how to tell if it tests well, and can ask about significant aberrations if I find them. 

It's looking as though I could tell the donor the scope is worth a minimum of $400 due to the quality of its commercially produced components, and (assuming a suitable star test) an estimated $500 as a complete telescope. To the club, it's priceless. We love scopes with provenance and fine optics! 


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5561278 - 12/08/12 05:59 PM

Any appraiser would certainly look at the price of a similar new scope ... the Orion 127mm (5") Makustov is priced at $400. It has no historical value since it was built by an unknown amateur using commercial optics. However, it is interesting to note that the Three B Optical Company supplied Schmidt optics for the Lunar Surface Ultraviolet Camera on Apollo 16.

With the build quality and included accessories, I don't think a tax auditor would raise an eyebrow with an appraised value of between $500-$700. Since appraised values are usually set notoriously high, I'd go with the higher figure.


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Da Bear
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/21/06

Loc: Kali-Forn-Ya
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5563438 - 12/10/12 01:06 AM

I have consulted (at NO fee to keep things honest) on many, many optical instruments appraisals and most of the comments in this thread are generally true. However, appraisers do not “set notoriously high prices” without some documentation to back up their work product, otherwise they would not be in the business very long.

ATM scopes require more homework to appraise, but aperture is aperture, glass is glass, and so forth. Workmanship and the image quality of ATM hardware are sometimes given additional consideration than in assessing the value of mass-market scopes. Provenance is a prime consideration in all appraisals, but especially in ATM scopes.

There are also so many subjective values that may be placed on any object. Sentimental value vs. insurance replacement value can be a difficult choice.

For important items get an ASA (American Society of Appraisers) member to write your appraisal. They cost a bit more, but insurance companies almost never contest their valuations.

Da Bear

Edited by Da Bear (12/10/12 01:06 AM)


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Da Bear]
      #5563793 - 12/10/12 09:17 AM

The club's goal is to provide the donor with a fair appraisal that will minimize her taxes, while not unduly raising the book value of our collections. I, somewhat naively, accepted the role of appraiser, and must say that appraising the ATM is a far cry from other appraisals I've done. With commercial scopes, I cruise eBay and Astromart to find the going value. It's not so simple in this case, but I love learning, so no complaints.

Comparing this scope to a new 5" Orion Mak is smart, yet they are not quite the same beast, because the same beast has likely not been manufactured in decades. The Orion is f/12.1, about half the ATM's f/23. The ATM is from a period before modern ED glass. Beginning sometime in the 1950s, there was a movement of ATMers building Maksutovs. The design sought to combine the perfect color correction of mirrors with the smallest possible obstruction to make a 4" planetary scope of small field of view, but with images rivaling the finest, most expensive 4" refractors or 10" off-axis reflectors (10" stopped down by 4" mask). The low mass and short tube required only a lightweight mount (compare the weight of a 10" Cave Newtonian!), and the simpler eyepieces of the day were better at f/23. This was a connoisseur's scope, a low-budget, magically low-weight rival to the best views otherwise obtainable in the era.

The scope is clearly more valuable to the club than its insurance value would suggest. Donations are priceless. Pay nothing; get something. For a club with roots in ATM and observing (others in our region emphasize dinner parties and speakers), this particular scope is an exceptional gift. Four inches of glass may not seem like much, but I could easily carry this scope outside as a grab-and-go for spectacular views of Jupiter as it rises over the lake. Last month, our club poured a ton of concrete for a pier for a 14" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain at one of our outreach sites, but that beast requires two strong men just to lift onto its mount. Different scopes for different purposes!


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Da Bear]
      #5565826 - 12/11/12 12:09 PM

Quote:

However, appraisers do not “set notoriously high prices” without some documentation to back up their work product, otherwise they would not be in the business very long.






The use of term "notoriously high" was not intended to imply "overvalued" but at the high end of the estimated value ... the highest price realized, sold under the best circumstances. However, my past experiences with appraisals on antique jewelry, antique firearms, antique cars and commercial properties ... show that the actual sale price in an open market can be significantly lower than the appraised value ... especially if your looking for a quick sale.


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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5661279 - 02/04/13 08:37 AM

An update on this telescope, instructive for some, a laugh for others:

Neither my club's treasurer or I could get this scope to focus, yet our optician focused it immediately and reported it has excellent optics. What's his magic?

It turns out that baffling a Maksutov is complicated at best, and not worth the effort at worst, especially for a home-built astronomical scope. The treasurer and I had each tried to focus the scope on a distant object during the day, when the extreme glare from the blackened, but un-baffled, tube obliterates the image. The optician tested the scope at night when, without the glare, it works fine, yet with a twist. Focusing on stars is no problem. Bright objects such as Jupiter are obscured with glare until they are exactly centered in the field, whereupon they suddenly snap to focus!


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DrewFamily
journeyman


Reged: 01/31/08

Re: Appraising a Fine ATM f/23 Mak new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5661466 - 02/04/13 10:37 AM

Not sure if you'd be interested in publicing naming the ATM, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who is curious to hear who built it. Jay in CT

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