The Museum of HP Calculators

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A question on old calculator prices
Message #1 Posted by Cristian Arezzini on 17 July 2011, 4:47 a.m.

Now, I know that for out-of-production items there isn't a "right" price, that a calculator - for example - is worth what others are willing to pay for it. But looking at prices on TAS (I'm not an "obsessed" watcher of that site, but sometimes I look around there a bit), I see something strange. Take, for example, the 48GX. I have 4 of them, and three were bought on TAS in the last years. All these used items had decent prices IMO - all of them well below 100 Euro. But I noticed there are sellers (one more than others, but there are several) selling stuff for ridiculous (for me) prices, like, close to $400 for a standard 48GX. Out of curiosity I checked their past sales and they seem to have many happy customers, who paid the "premium price" for their calcs. What I'm wondering is this: if someone who wants a 48GX can find it on TAS for <$100 or for >$300, why should they buy the more expensive ones? I could understand if someone really wants some really rare item, but what about easy-to-find (and cheap) calculators? Why would anyone accept to pay so much more for them? I just don't get it...

      
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #2 Posted by Marcus von Cube, Germany on 17 July 2011, 6:00 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Cristian Arezzini

The GX is still in use by professionals. If their current calculator brakes down or gets flaky they just don't think much and get what they can get at the time at the price that is asked for.

            
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #3 Posted by Bart (UK) on 17 July 2011, 6:29 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Marcus von Cube, Germany

It seems to me that many people just jump onto eBay and buy the first result that comes up. They are just too lazy to look around. There are many current HP models for sale there that are higher in price than listed on online stores. You can save money on auction sites, but it pays to search elsewhere too.

            
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #4 Posted by Cristian Arezzini on 17 July 2011, 11:43 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Marcus von Cube, Germany

Hm. I know it can happen with rare items, where someone wants one right now and can only find one, overpriced... But the 48GX, to keep with my example, is always readily available. One has to hunt for the "big deals", but decent prices can be found at any time. Still, looking at his feedback, that seller managed to sell several. That's what I really don't get. Sometimes maybe people are fooled by thinking that if a price is much lower than another one, it must be because the item has some problems...

Fun fact: my wife's mother has an antique furniture shop in New York. Sometimes, when she has an item that doesn't sell for a long time, before throwing it away she tries to substantially increase the price (4- or 5-fold), and then usually the item sells immediately. A few months ago she had a chair from the seventies, listed for $400, unsold for two years; she changed the price to $2500 and it sold within the week. Probably people thought, "Wow, look how expensive it is, it must be really rare"... :)

      
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #5 Posted by Bart (UK) on 17 July 2011, 6:21 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Cristian Arezzini

Some sellers seem to want to get rich from selling old calculators. They sell them for about an order of magnitude more than they paid for them - one of them once bid on an HP I was selling and their max bid was many times lower than similar calculators (s)he had on sale.

As for the buyers, if they have that kind of money to spend and are willing to do, so be it - they are probably not willing to wait or look around (i.e. "I want it and I want it now, at any price"). I watch and wait, and recently got a 71B (very good working condition with IL port) for almost 1/10 of the BIN price of those sellers.

I think that unfortunately these high BIN/starting seller prices and the buyers that buy them do have an influence on auction prices. But as my example of the 71B testifies - patience pays off.

      
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #6 Posted by Michael de Estrada on 17 July 2011, 11:04 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Cristian Arezzini

Just because someone lists an item at a very high selling price, doesn't mean they will get that price. There is a very notorious seller on the USA TAS site that has been listing the same overpriced items on TAS for years, and they have never sold. What I find far more amazing is that people seem willing to pay more for items on TAS that are available new in stores at MSRP for less. Recently an HP QuickCalc sold for over $10 on TAS, when I found one in my local Office Depot for $4. Typically, vintage HP calcs listed as BIN (Buy It Now) on TAS are priced at about 2X what they would normally fetch in a normal no reserve auction, however, occasionally you will find something at a good price. I found a HP-25C in perfect working and cosmetic condition for $150, whereas they almost always sell for considerably more in regular auctions. I think mostly it's inexperienced buyers who don't have a good sense of the market or even the product who overpay for items. Perhaps the buyer of the QuickCalc just saw the HP logo on the item and automatically thought it was worth more on that basis.

            
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #7 Posted by Maximilian Hohmann on 17 July 2011, 11:44 a.m.,
in response to message #6 by Michael de Estrada

Hello!

Quote:
Recently an HP QuickCalc sold for over $10 on TAS, when I found one in my local Office Depot for $4.

Maybe some of the different colours are rarer than others? Who knows... I have bought three of these on eBay (three different colours, all new and boxed (or "sleeved")) and paid 1 Euro each, two of them had the shipping already included in that one Euro. But to be honest, they are worth no more than 50 Cents.

I have also been watching these calculators with outrageous buy-it-now prices over the years (one regular posters on this forum lists hundreds of these on German eBay every second weekend when eBay dosen't charge listing fees) but almost none of them ever sell. But maybe a one-in-a-thousnd sale is worth all the effort?

Regards, max

                  
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #8 Posted by Namir on 17 July 2011, 11:53 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Maximilian Hohmann

I have found a few Hungarian sellers on TAS asking for high prices for calculators. A few weeks ago one listed a TI-95 for $400!!! When I contacted him and told him the machine should start at most for $40, he told me that I was funny and I should be watching more TV. The item is still listed (as of this writing) and has not sold. Not sure it will sell for that price.

Namir

                  
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #9 Posted by Walter B on 17 July 2011, 3:47 p.m.,
in response to message #7 by Maximilian Hohmann

Quote:
I have also been watching these calculators with outrageous buy-it-now prices over the years (one regular poster on this forum lists hundreds of these on German eBay every second weekend when eBay dosen't charge listing fees) but almost none of them ever sell. But maybe a one-in-a-thousnd sale is worth all the effort?
Think I know the same person. Annoying :-( Since the items are not BIN but just outrageous start prices, it's difficult to filter these "offers" out. And the seller is unconvincible though he hardly ever sells any such item. I hate calling for eBay fees, but here it seems the only cure :-/

Just my 20 mÄ as usual, Walter

            
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #10 Posted by Bart (UK) on 17 July 2011, 4:35 p.m.,
in response to message #6 by Michael de Estrada

Quote:
Just because someone lists an item at a very high selling price, doesn't mean they will get that price.
True, the calculator I mentioned in this thread is still for sale.(After researching the seller, it seems the price I mentioned there was because the seller was on holiday and wanted to dicourage buyers). It started at about £50 I think a year or so before that post. i.e. it's been on sale for over 2 years (looking at the revision history it was on sale already in June 2009). It's a generic model of which similar units (e.g. SATEK 8M) usually sell for <£2.00.

I made an offer on it and he was so upset with my price that he banned me from buying any of his products ;(

Edited: 17 July 2011, 4:46 p.m.

      
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #11 Posted by Garth Wilson on 18 July 2011, 1:13 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Cristian Arezzini

When I see someone listing an HP41 bar-code scanner for $489 BIN-only price, I just laugh and say, "You're an idiot!" As others have said, they keep listing them week after week and no one buys.

            
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #12 Posted by Martin Pinckney on 18 July 2011, 10:40 a.m.,
in response to message #11 by Garth Wilson

Quote:
As others have said, they keep listing them week after week and no one buys.
There is another possible explanation. eB** allows an individual to have two distinct ID's. So perhaps these sellers keep the BIN price outrageously high for one ID, to hopefully affect the market while they sell via their other ID. Then perhaps occasionally they score with the high-priced ID.

Just a thought.

      
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #13 Posted by David Ramsey on 19 July 2011, 1:44 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Cristian Arezzini

It's hard to have a real "market" for items with as limited appeal as classic calculators, since there are so few people to whom they are worth anything. I imagine the same is true for other limited-appeal collectible items.

What this means is that any individual calculator is worth whatever someone can be convinced to pay for it. For example, I recently bought an SR-60 on TAS and paid rather a lot of money for it. Joerg Woener, who has hundreds of TI calculators, thinks I overpaid by a factor of three or so, but I'm happy, and they are so rare that Joerg's web site only lists 4 other owners (I'm sure there are many more, but still...), so who's to say what an SR-60 is "worth"?

Yeah, it frosts my lenses when I see some of these TAS yahoos' pricing...I see one infamous fellow has apparently decided that almost everything he has is worth exactly $489. But presumably you're not wishing for some central price-setting authority, so my best advice if you see something you want is "patience, grasshopper..."

            
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #14 Posted by Cristian Arezzini on 19 July 2011, 2:03 a.m.,
in response to message #13 by David Ramsey

I know that it's the collectors who make the price. Still, I can't get over how ridiculous some sellers are. Right now, for example, there is a BROKEN, non-working 48GX (it doesn't turn on) listed for $299.99. And it's a seller with almost 7000 feedbacks. Elsewhere on the same site, you can find a good, working one for $60. I can't help thinking that - free market and all - the first seller is trying to rip-off someone.

Sorry for the rant, but I just don't get it.

Cristian

                  
Re: A question on old calculator prices
Message #15 Posted by Walter B on 19 July 2011, 2:31 a.m.,
in response to message #14 by Cristian Arezzini

For sure (s)he is trying to rip off someone - but that's only "fun" as long as somebody lets him(her)self being ripped off. That's all IMHO. No more science ;-)

Edited: 19 July 2011, 2:31 a.m.


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