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My definition of a Classic Telescope

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#1 Gordon Reade

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 09:53 AM

I know that there is no generally excepted definition of what exactly constitutes a “classic telescope” but here is the measure I use.

With out factoring in inflation, any telescope that is worth more now then when it was first sold is a classic.

Book deals define an “antiquarian book” as any book that is worth more now then it was at the time of its printing. Age and the number printed do not matter. This definition works just fine for them. It’s true that a first addition of “Harry Potter” is considered an antiquarian book but that upsets no one.

I think the same definition would work just fine for telescopes. It’s simple, easy to understand and easy to apply.

#2 Da Bear

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:26 AM

Gordon,

Interesting discussion for a Saturday.

There are four primary factors (as noted by the American Society of Appraisers) that set the price of any vintage instrument. Age, condition, rarity, and provenace. Price is just the final sum of the equation, while an interesting barometer of the item's demand, does not in itself contain enough information to evaluate the "classic-ness" of the item itself.

For example, Celeston - Pacific C-8's are still available at under their original price, but are considered classics due to the revolutionary nature of their design and marketing.

Rather than go further into this, I'd like to hear other CN folks chime in on this topic.

Da Bear

#3 Don W

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 11:53 AM

Better yet, how about doing a search on the topic here in Classic Scopes. We've beat this horse a number of times.

#4 Gordon Reade

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 12:44 PM

“Age, condition, rarity, and provenance.”

Well let’s consider that. A print of Ansel Adams’, Moonrise Hernandez New Mexico recently sold for over $300,000.

Was this the oldest photograph of the moon? No, it was taken in 1941.

Was this the best condition of any photo of the moon? No.

Was this the rarest photo of the moon? No.

Then how about provenance? Have other Ansel Adams prints sold for as much or more money? No.

But when the sale was made no one laughed or called the buyer a fool.

Dear Don W.

You have more than 9200 posts. I have 8. You may have beaten this hoarse before (and without success I might add) but I have not. Where you have failed I might succeed.

Clear Skies

Gordon

#5 Spoonsize

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 12:47 PM

Gordon:
You've made several good points, and you made each of them in a MUCH nicer way than I would have!!!!
Thank you for that.
Steve

#6 Don W

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:07 PM

What do you mean I have failed and you might succeed?

Don Wyman
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Classic Scopes

#7 Da Bear

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:18 PM

Gordon,

"Moonrise" is wondeful example of the basis factors of value.

Why was this photo worth over $300K?

This print was an original silver gelatin print made in 1941. The print was one of 50 developed by hand by Adams in 1941. It was in museum condition. It was one of only 50 developed by Adams. It's ownership ( ie. paper trail) was impeccable.
Compare this to the "Moonrise" hand prints sold at the Ansel Adams museum in Yosemite for $3K. These are chroma mat, not silver gelatin. They are produced by hand in 2007, by the Ansel Adams foundation, in unlimited numbers and do not use Adams' original negative. ( I seem to remember the original negative is at the Universirty of Arizona in a special collection) They are of museum quality, and their provenace is unquestioned.

So age amd rarity impart the extra $297K to this particular print. Are both classic's? Sure. Is a ten dollar poster of "Moonrise" a classic? Sure.

As to the points about the moon being the focal point, I'm unsure of what point you were tring to make.

Da Bear

#8 trainsktg

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:21 PM

Actually, Don is right in his initial post...we just had one of these threads that got very in-depth with fairly definitive results only about two weeks ago.

My 1.5 cents: At best, an item is really worth only what someone will pay for it, regardless of its origins, antiquity, condition etc. and buyers' reasons for purchasing are probably as numerous as there are buyers. My example would be Unitron telescopes. Unitron telescopes sell for high dollar amounts not just because of their quality (although very good, they weren't the best in their time) but also because of their name recognition to mature Boomers who couldn't afford them when they were growing up, among other reasons. My guess is a 4" refractor by John Mellish would not be as recognizable or desirable to the average telescope collector as a 4" Unitron would be, even though the optical quality is superior.

Keith

#9 Don W

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:22 PM

Here's a link to the big discussion we had on this subject some time ago. Good luck in nailing down a definition: What is a Classic?

#10 Da Bear

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:29 PM

Thanks Don. Very interesting Saturday reading. Somehow i missed the whole thread.

Da Bear

#11 Gordon Reade

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 10:57 AM

“What do you mean I have failed and you might succeed?”


Dear Don

With all due respect you referred me to a string of more than forty posts that went around in a circle. What is a classic telescope? Well it might be this, or it might be that, or it might be something else. We read that it was a “moving target”. In your own words, “It's really pretty subjective.”

What I have done is given a very simple and easy to understand definition of a classic telescope. I may well be wrong but at least I’m not constantly shifting form one quality to another. I’m not going from age to rarity to optical quality and then back to the general coolness factor.

Can you do as well? Can you give us a definition that isn’t constantly changing color?

Clear Skies

Gordon

#12 trainsktg

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 12:04 PM

Well, Don's just like the rest of us, except he moderates the forum. I don't think he or anybody here is more qualified than anybody else to give a clear cut definition of what is classic, desirable, valuable, etc. because many of our reasons for purchasing these items are probably very different.

I just paid $700 for a 2.4" refractor and a nearly complete accessory kit. To many that would seem like wayyyy too much (me too when I think about it :help:), but identical refractors have sold for similar prices or more. $650 for a complete kit 5 years ago on Astromart, $800 from a German seller with just the telescope and mount (no box or accessories), and my Dad, who helped organize many of the Vernonscope auctions, said that $1,000 was still a good price for this instrument.

In the end, what is a solid definition for you (and your original one is definitely based on sound logic) might only be one of many factors (or not a factor at all) to someone else, hense the 'moving target'. I personally don't look at what an instrument sold for originally before I buy, nor do I consider resale value, as I'm not an investor. I buy used instruments of high quality that I actually use, with a desire to preserve and share this 'history' with others. That's my oddball reason.

Keith

#13 Don W

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 04:02 PM

Well said Keith. And hopefully it gives some perspective on how difficult my job is in here. You notice that there are multiple mods in most forums but there is only one here, me. I enjoy old scopes and have owned quite a few over the years, so it's almost natural for me to mod here. As to my quandry, we have attempted several times to quantify what constitutes a classic, antique or collector scope. From these discussions, I have formed a rough idea of what falls into these categories and therefore qualify as grist for this mill. From time to time, I will step forward and point out very directly that a certain item does not qualify and the thread may be locked or moved elsewhere. Being the sole arbiter of all this is a daunting task, but I accept it and do my best. I hope you can all understand this and give me the benefit of the doubt. I ain't perfect, but I try.

Don Wyman
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#14 Vesper818

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 08:49 PM

Maybe the "classic" is in the people who collect them- not necessarily age, but a mature appreciation for fine workmanship, beauty and utility.... and maybe the one we always wanted...
This is definitely a classy bunch!

#15 Bonco

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 08:50 PM

Don,
I enjoy this forum more than others as most threads that I see posted are interesting, useful, and keep me informed on what's currently out there. I have no complaints and think you do a wonderful job...Keep it up.
Bonco

#16 OuterSpaced

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 09:05 PM

Ditto. It's a pleasure being moderated and edited by Don. No, really, I'm serious.-Ken

#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 09:13 PM

>>>What I have done is given a very simple and easy to understand definition of a classic telescope. I may well be wrong but at least I’m not constantly shifting form one quality to another. I’m not going from age to rarity to optical quality and then back to the general coolness factor.
----

You have given a simple definition but I don't find it a reasonable definition. If one includes inflation into the equation, there are very few classic scopes out there today. The obvious classic would be any Astro-Physics scope, they fit your definition the moment they are delivered.

But even if you don't include inflation, there are few classics. Well respected scopes like the RV-6 would not be classics because they can often be found for less than their original selling price of $200. In the past 2 years I have bought 2 of them, one for $40, one for $125... I think any defintion of Classic has to include the RV-6.

From my point of view, "Classic" is a subjective term and therefore it has different meaning for each of us. It is going to change, one cannot pin it down.

I think the working definition I have suggested is even simpler than yours:

A classic scope is any scope that someone thinks is a classic... You think it's a classic, it's a classic. If I think it's a classic, it's a classic.

Jon Isaacs

#18 PJ Anway

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 09:41 PM

You know a scope is a "classic" when it becomes part of "folk lore" humor:

http://observers.org...tober/0526.html
- about half way down - "joke" #15

#19 trainsktg

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 10:17 PM

That's great, PJ.

Keith (BTW...has Gloval Warming hit you guys, yet? )

#20 BHunt

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 10:18 PM

Don,
You do a great job in here keeping everything on track. Being in public service I know how difficult that can be.
Respectfully,
Bill

#21 trainsktg

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 10:22 PM

Yeah, except Don wouldn't let me sell my spectroscope for $500,000 in the Classics Forum. :poke: That wasn't very nice. :grin:

Keith (I tried to give the guys here first dibs, and all that :smirk:)

#22 Gordon Reade

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:05 PM


I was wrong about one thing and I’m surprised that no one has corrected me. Ansel Adams Moonrise sold for over 600K. Here is the link.



http://en.wikipedia....ive_photographs

That’s a lot of money for a picture of the moon. It just goes to show what can happen when two, or more, very rich people bid on the same print.

#23 Da Bear

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:54 PM

Gordon,

Trust me on this, its NOT just a picture of the moon.

http://www.hctc.comm...moonrise.html#A

And why should we correct you? We actually trust what our fellow CN folks tell us. We trust each other to give honest and accurate information to the best of our experience. We trust that we are kind, thoughtful, funny and gracious to each other. We treat each other as if we are guests in someone else's home for the first time. We say please and thank you, we congratulate each other on the small triumphs and console each other when life deals us yet another bad hand.

It's a cruel joke that life is not fair, but here, almost forgotten amongst the sexier topics on this forum, on this very obscure website, we have created an elegant kitchen table: an enchanted escape from politics, taxes, cellphones, commutes, spouses, illness, celebrity, war, and television. We are protective of this oasis.

You are very welcome to come and join us every day, really! Just treat all of us with the respect we will gladly offer to you.

Da Bear

#24 OuterSpaced

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:22 AM

Well said, Da Bear.

#25 PJ Anway

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:34 AM

Keith,

We were doing well until a three-day blizzard hit us at the end of last week. :^(


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