Vintage Telescope Dilemma
Posted 10 November 2006 - 02:53 PM
Production figures on the Meade 4-inch refractor are likely low, possibly only several hundred were ever sold worldwide. Collectors actively seek this particular scope--it is the Rolls-Royce of achromatic refractors. Up to this point, the only working example that I had seen (and tested) was owned by one of the originators of The Table Mountain Star Party held near Ellensburg, Washington.
The one for sale on craigslist was unusually complete and was one of Meade's top-of-the-line units. It had many upgrades including a motor drive (never taken out of its original packing), guidescope, tube balance assembly, drive corrector, battery pack, and other accessories. The seller could not locate the OM-1 Olympus astrocamera, identifying this particular scope as Meade's Model 445. The list price in my 1970s Meade catalogue was $1659.00 with the upgrades. Most of the components were unused and still in their original packaging material as sold by the factory.
According to the seller of this rarity, he had gotten the telescope from a friend. His friend's father had passed away and had purchased the Meade telescope years ago someplace on the East Coast. The seller had tried to set the Meade 4-inch up but encountered a common problem among beginners and novices: He spent half the night assembling the scope, and could not even view through it. Plus, his back was not quite up to the job! He hadn't realized what a truly big scope this Meade actually was.
Now, the dilemma. What would YOU have done in this unique situation? Here are the options:
(A) He wanted a local sale, but had had virtually no calls or offers on the telescope. This telescope was an absolute bargain for a collector--bargain basement priced but spendy for the average person. Travel literally thousands of miles, pay his asking price, and pick the telescope after payment to him?
(B) He knew absolutely nothing about packing and shipping the scope, but might reconsider this (I recommended either UPS or FedEx professional drop-off service centers). He did not have the original shipping containers from Meade nor any type of storage chest for the telescope. He also did not have a suitable box for shipment. He had wrapped blankets around the instrument for protection. Go ahead and send him a check and hope for the best?
© He and his young wife had a newborn child and obviously needed the funds. Use the 'Jon Isaac's Technique' and tell him and his wife EXACTLY what he had in his possession and its TRUE worth? Then give them hints on where to get the highest sum for their Meade 4-inch Photo-Equatorial refractor telescope?
(D) Take the advice of some of our members who have posted in this forum and avoid trying to purchase the scope from afar and let the seller try to unload the instrument locally only from craigslist?
Your choice from above? A, B, C, or D?
Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:53 PM
Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:16 PM
Advertise it as known...rarity w/low production numbers...Put it up for online auction to highest bidder.
Be willing to ship it and have it professionally double packed as rare optics, and supervise the work and be sure the packer knows the facts re the product and willing to stand behind the packing. Insure it heavily, expedite shipping to minimize handling; offer to split the cost with the buyer or come to other arrangement with buyer.
Its tough to sell stuff as a local sale/pickup unless you happen to live near astro centers w/lots of amateurs. Nice if you can get it but be prepared for a long distance deal.
Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:37 PM
Tell him what it's worth, perhaps even anonymously, and then let him decide what to do with it. Perhaps give him some of the advice that Pat Kelly suggested about liquidating it properly.
When considering these dilemmas, ask yourself one question : if the tables were turned, and I was in possession of something valuable and had no idea what it's true worth was, then would I want someone to be honest with me and tell me?
On the other hand, he might be so grateful for such open honesty, that he may sell at a discount below the going rate, but above his previous uninformed price - as a reward to the person who clued him in. If not, then it's a good deed done anyway.
Clear dark skies...
Posted 12 November 2006 - 10:51 AM
Hello... An interested post, an interesting situation.
I have been reflecting on CL a bit since the topic came up here recently, I think my attitude is that the intent of Craigs list is that every one act as friends. This dream is sometimes hidden in the spam and people trolling for the inexperienced but there are still plenty who are more interested in a happy buyer-happy seller than making a few bucks.
So, in this case, the question I would ask myself is:
If the seller were a friend of what would I do??
Here is what I think I would have done... Probably what you did from reading your post...
I would have called the guy and talked to him on the phone. I would have told him I thought it was worth a good deal more. I would have told him about Astromart and Cloudy Nights and suggested posting there.
Then, depending upon where seller was, I would have tried to put him in contact with someone who could either help him ship the scope or someone who might be interested in buying it. If I did not know any one who could help, I most likely would have posted the info right here on CN just as you did, I imagine there would be someone interested in either helping with the shipping or in buying it. I think that would be in the spirit of Craigs list.
I will say that the fact that Craigs list did not generate a response does not mean that an Astromart ad would have had the same result, certainly one can specify Pickup only and Astromart provides a great deal more exposure than CL.
Something to consider.. Most often when I point out Astromart etc and that the scope is probably worth more, the seller is happy to know that but decides that it is too much hassle and I end up with the scope. As a bargin hunter, this helps me live my conscious...
Final note: If you did call the seller and talked to him and were upfront and honest as I imagine you were, talking numbers etc, that in itself would probably generate enough good will that he would probably be willing to figure out how to ship it to you and that you could work out a price that left you with a bargin scope and his family with more money than they ever expected.
Posted 12 November 2006 - 11:59 AM
i confirmed it and one of them bid on the bass. it sold for the asking price. (275) when they came to pick it up, they brought an envelope with 1750 dollars in it for us as a donation that 63 of them had donated towards. I never met any of these people.
always do the right thing. money and stuff is ok bu from where I sit it i ove rated. It is your human relationships tht matter more.
Posted 12 November 2006 - 12:42 PM
I sed them to pick up on old Celestron Pacific C10, custom crate and truck freight to my local office, where I was able to open and inspect. Insurance was also arranged. Not inexpensive, but worth it for something that desirable!
Posted 12 November 2006 - 01:13 PM
I had no idea (I don't pay attention very well) ...
Hang in there! My prayers are with you.
Regards and clear skies...
Posted 12 November 2006 - 05:03 PM
Posted 12 November 2006 - 06:19 PM
But, if you do get it, can you stop on the way and get that $480 Takahashi CN212?