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Thought Experiment on Astro-Physics Refractors

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#1 Phillip Creed

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 12:53 PM

Title says it all, and it's a whacky one.  Sometimes my mind scares me.

Imagine you have a time machine.

You go back in time and buy a single OTA of every refractor Astrophysics ever marketed--from the latest Stowaway all the way up to the 206mm Starfire--at their introductory prices.

You then came back to the present day and sell them off.

Assuming you could withstand the wrenching psychological torture of selling off an armada of Roland Christen scopes that entire countries might go to war over, approximately how much profit (not counting capital gains taxes, shipping/PayPal costs and inflation) would you make given current aftermarket prices?

Clear Skies,

Phil


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#2 DeanS

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:08 PM

check out this old ad from astromart.

 

https://astromart.co...80160155130trav


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#3 gwlee

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:11 PM

Before or after accounting for inflation? Rule of 72: 72/Rate of Inflation = Number of years for the price of everything to double. Example: 72/3%= 24 years, so any scope that hasn’t doubled in price in the last 24 years didn’t break even. 

 

After accounting for inflation, I estimate my Stowaway probably lost about 3% of its value in the last 12 months. 


Edited by gwlee, 18 June 2021 - 01:28 PM.

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#4 Phillip Creed

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:17 PM

Before or after accounting for inflation? 

Not accounting for inflation.  It'll make running the numbers simpler.

Clear Skies,

Phil



#5 RajG

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:24 PM

I'll bet that it will be a lot less than if you had invested an equivalent amount in the S&P500 at the time those scopes were introduced. Telescopes (even AP scopes) are not investments. 


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#6 Ben the Ignorant

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:33 PM

how much profit would you make given current aftermarket prices?

Just about the cost of a time machine.


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#7 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:47 PM

Telescopes are rarely investments. Even the best A-P stuff would lose you money compared with the opportunity cost of even a very mediocre investment over a reasonable period.

 

The profit you could turn would be maximized by buying them and selling on asap, like some have done with the latest Stowaway. The Stowaway comes in a bit shy of 4k after taxes, and some appear to have sold for $5k. A ~25% profit in the course of a couple days is hard to beat.

 

The few telescopes that make money in the longer-run would be those with some historical significance, probably largely independent of the performance of the scope. But the longer the run, the more an investment would outperform.

 

e.g, telescopes used by famous astronomers, used in battle, something along those lines.


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#8 gwlee

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:48 PM

Not accounting for inflation.  It'll make running the numbers simpler.

Clear Skies,

Phil

It also makes the numbers meaningless for the purpose of determining “profit.” You will only know whether the price increased or decreased and by how many dollars. To determine whether you would have enjoyed a profit or suffered a loss, current prices must be compared to inflation over the period of the investment. 
 

For the last 50 years or so, inflation has averaged about 3%. If you bought a telescope for $1 fifty years ago, and sold it for $2 today, you would suffer a loss. If you sold it for $4, you would almost break even. 


Edited by gwlee, 18 June 2021 - 02:24 PM.

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#9 CHASLX200

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:49 PM

Title says it all, and it's a whacky one.  Sometimes my mind scares me.

Imagine you have a time machine.

You go back in time and buy a single OTA of every refractor Astrophysics ever marketed--from the latest Stowaway all the way up to the 206mm Starfire--at their introductory prices.

You then came back to the present day and sell them off.

Assuming you could withstand the wrenching psychological torture of selling off an armada of Roland Christen scopes that entire countries might go to war over, approximately how much profit (not counting capital gains taxes, shipping/PayPal costs and inflation) would you make given current aftermarket prices?

Clear Skies,

Phil

I think like that all the time about fishing offshore and going back in time when you can get 5000lbs of grouper on one stop in a few hours and come back and sell them today.

 

AP are the only scopes you can make money on used vs new.


Edited by CHASLX200, 18 June 2021 - 01:50 PM.

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#10 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:54 PM

I just checked the S&P for Oct 2019 to May 2021, it's up 42% in that period, no adjustment for inflation. Otherwise 37%.

 

Pretty much trouncing a heavily marked up Stowaway sold today.


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#11 photoracer18

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:55 PM

Once you price in the anti-matter reactor you need for the time machine you will be losing money. Better to go back and steal the crook and the flail from the body of Ramses II.


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#12 t.r.

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:58 PM

Knowing what I know now, I would have bought two of everything and sold one set today and keep the second set free...and still have money left over for eyepieces!!! 🤣
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#13 DeanS

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:59 PM

But if someone actually "used" and "enjoyed" these scope during the ownership then even a little profit is worth it.  Hard to get out under the stars with a 401K.


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#14 CHASLX200

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:09 PM

If i knew used AP's would sell for 3 times or more the price new i would have bought many around 1990-97. Other than some Unitrons and some rare older scopes AP's are money makers even if bought new today. As you can turn around and sell it for much more since no one wants to wait years. Reason i never got into AP scopes as they cost too much used.



#15 L. Regira

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:14 PM

If you could go back in time instead of those telescopes go back to Topps baseball cards and buy as many as you can to get Mickey Mantle's rookie card. His card alone would give you enough of a payday to buy quite a few telescopes and the card could fit in your pocket. Even try to get 3 or 4. https://www.forbes.c...sh=13f4516032d0


Edited by L. Regira, 18 June 2021 - 03:16 PM.


#16 gwlee

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:33 PM

I just checked the S&P for Oct 2019 to May 2021, it's up 42% in that period, no adjustment for inflation. Otherwise 37%.

 

Pretty much trouncing a heavily marked up Stowaway sold today.

You describing the “opportunity cost” of buying a Stowaway, which is tangible and easily calculated in comparison to the S&P. In post #13, DeanS is describing the opportunity cost of not buying a Stowaway, which could be called “less happiness.”

 

Happiness is less tangible and much harder to calculate, but being difficult to calculate doesn’t mean it’s not real. I took money out of the S&P to buy a Stowaway. I don’t know whether I am happier, but I am definitely poorer in $.  
 

“Profit” is something else entirely, but easily calculated. Time will tell, but I expect buying a Stowaway will turn out to be a loss over the longterm when inflation is considered as it must be when the period of investment is greater than zero. 


Edited by gwlee, 18 June 2021 - 03:47 PM.

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#17 Alan French

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:34 PM

Be more fun to discuss "What one AP scope would you have bought?"

 

That's where I though this was headed.

 

(Telescopes as an investment, such a strange idea, far removed from my view of this hobby.)

 

Clear skies, Alan


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#18 Phillip Creed

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:52 PM

If I could have gone back in time and gotten just one AP scope, it would be the Traveler, hands down.  In inflation-adjusted dollars it was expensive back then and CRAZY-expensive today.

Clear Skies,

Phil



#19 ShaulaB

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:54 PM

Billions and billions. (Channeling Carl Sagan from the original Cosmos series)

#20 Headshot

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 04:20 PM

Of course going back in time and purchasing an A-P telescope pre-destined for someone else will screw up the time line and send us into an alternate reality. Would we really want that? Come to think of it, maybe this already IS an alternate reality. In which case the question begs, "Who got to MY telescope?"

 

Gedanken experiments are so much fun.

 

Headshot


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#21 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 04:30 PM

You describing the “opportunity cost” of buying a Stowaway, which is tangible and easily calculated in comparison to the S&P. In post #13, DeanS is describing the opportunity cost of not buying a Stowaway, which could be called “less happiness.”

 

Happiness is less tangible and much harder to calculate, but being difficult to calculate doesn’t mean it’s not real. I took money out of the S&P to buy a Stowaway. I don’t know whether I am happier, but I am definitely poorer in $.  
 

“Profit” is something else entirely, but easily calculated. Time will tell, but I expect buying a Stowaway will turn out to be a loss over the longterm when inflation is considered as it must be when the period of investment is greater than zero. 

Agreed. I left out the ultity in owning an A-P because the question was about profiting (presumably monetarily) by buying such scopes, and the ownership benefit is hard to quantify. There are certainly those who buy them and never even un-box them. In that case it's pretty clear--you are likely to lose money, and more likely the longer you keep it.

 

Obviously there is utility in owning an A-P scope. That's why I bought one. I could have spent the money in lots of other ways, and I could have invested it. I decided I'd rather have the scope than the money, and A-P decided they'd rather have my money than the scope.

 

The people who think of these scopes as investments are probably mistaken most of the time. But as a depreciating object, the depreciation is relatively small and the ultity can be extremely high. In that sense you could call them good investments.

 

A slighly more perverse take . . . if you were motivated by money, and you were the manufacturer, then you might choose to keep aside a certain number of your highly valued products that you know are appreciated, both to artificially create a demand based increase in value, and to capitalize on that in the future by selling them off (gee, look what we found in the store room!).



#22 gwlee

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 04:37 PM

Be more fun to discuss "What one AP scope would you have bought?"

 

That's where I though this was headed.

 

(Telescopes as an investment, such a strange idea, far removed from my view of this hobby.)

 

Clear skies, Alan

For most of us telescopes are just toys, like Barbie Dolls. Thinking about them as investments helps some of us to rationalize purchasing an expensive one. 

 

A Traveler is the AP I wish I had bought because It seems best suited to what I do with a refractor, which isn’t traveling. i find the Stowaway very useful although it’s hasn’t stowed away to anywhere yet and probably won’t. 


Edited by gwlee, 19 June 2021 - 12:29 AM.


#23 M44

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 04:41 PM

Time will tell, but I expect buying a Stowaway will turn out to be a loss over the longterm when inflation is considered as it must be when the period of investment is greater than zero. 

It is already true with the purchase of original Stowaway (Purchased new or buying them used). It was going for 5k to 6.5k before the newer Stowaway showed up. I believe now there are many more newer Stowaways than the original one. 

 

Now I doubt the newer one will sell above 4k with the numbers still coming in. Its all depends on how rare the AP is to sell it higher than it was bought. Still it wont compete with S&P returns. 



#24 L. Regira

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 04:55 PM

I was hot for the superplanetary 6 inch f12 in 1987 and sent off for info. The brochure was from Feb. 10, 1987 and my dream telescope was $1760.00 for the OTA. Sadly, I was about to be married and I had no place or available cash to get one but I saved the mailing.

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#25 gwlee

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 05:31 PM

Agreed. I left out the ultity in owning an A-P because the question was about profiting (presumably monetarily) by buying such scopes, and the ownership benefit is hard to quantify. There are certainly those who buy them and never even un-box them. In that case it's pretty clear--you are likely to lose money, and more likely the longer you keep it.

 

Obviously there is utility in owning an A-P scope. That's why I bought one. I could have spent the money in lots of other ways, and I could have invested it. I decided I'd rather have the scope than the money, and A-P decided they'd rather have my money than the scope.

 

The people who think of these scopes as investments are probably mistaken most of the time. But as a depreciating object, the depreciation is relatively small and the ultity can be extremely high. In that sense you could call them good investments.

I agree. I was putting together a 4” refractor rig to use on my deck at home. After acquiring the mount and tripod, I was having trouble finding a 4” that had all the features I wanted when I was offered a Stowaway. It was closer to what I wanted except for its slightly smaller aperture, so I bought it thinking it would hold its value well and be very easy to resell if it didn’t work out. After two years, it’s proved to be very suitable for my use at this site. 

 

 




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