And $500 gets you...

Scott Stevens chenmel at
Tue Apr 12 18:23:26 CDT 2005

On Sun, 10 Apr 2005 19:44:56 -0700 (PDT)
Vintage Computer Festival <vcf at> wrote:

> On Thu, 7 Apr 2005, Teo Zenios wrote:
> > Its a very visible data point. Anybody with an ebay account can keep
> > track of what systems they are interested in were sold (if they sold
> > which is always good to know) for. Nobody knows what you can get a
> > system for Sellam because it is not mentioned in public, so the deal
> > might well not even exist to the rest of us collectors.
> If your experience consists solely of tracking eBay auctions then
> you're never going to fully understand the dynamics of this particular
> hobby. You are seeing only a subset of the actual deals taking place
> on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  If you're going to want to be in
> the business of valuation, you first need to keep track of data points
> from many sources, including thrift stores, flea markets, surplus
> shops, ham fests, private sales, surplus auctions, etc.  You also need
> to understand the dynamics of each source.  In the case of eBay, if
> you have a handle on the other sources then you know that prices are
> consistently inflated in that venue, so you know to apply a fudge
> factor to normalize an eBay sale.  Thrift stores and surplus auctions
> are generally on the lower end of the scale, so you apply a fudge
> factor to normalize the value upwards.
> > There are peaks and valleys of what something sells for on ebay just
> > like any other venue. The shear volume of same items sold over a
> > long period of time to me is a good indication of what the retail
> > value of that items is , more accurate then any printed price guide
> > or somebody bragging about getting one for a buck at a flee market
> > 2000 miles from me.
> You're discounting the tendency of the eBay auction mechanism to
> consistently inflate prices.  This is well known and is the reason why
> it's so popular with sellers.  It's also the basis of the persistent
> gripes you hear from buyers on eBay (i.e. eOverpay, etc.)  If you
> don't understand this then you have no business philosophizing about
> values.

Anything is 'worth' whatever a chump anywhere is worth paying for it.  I
was at a household estate auction last weekend where they were selling
the entire contents of a house.  People were willing to pay pretty much
the same amount that they would have paid at Kroeger for partially used
bottles of laundry detergent, and boxes of canned goods.  At the other
end of the spectrum, I've seen 'Fourty boxes of misc household' on a
skid sell for $5 at other auctions.

It depends entirely on the venue, and who is present at the sale.  The
one last weekend was 'regular rubes' in a suburban neighborhood setting.
 The 'fourty boxes' auction was a Wednesday morning sale in a centrally
located warehouse district.  Where it concerns 'collectables' or
hobby-related items, a huge 'reality distortion' phenomeon kicks in,
i.e. local-scarcity issues and other factors matter a lot.

Big venues like eBay that are worldwide in scope wash away some of these
effects, and introduce other ones.  One thing for certain is that
'published' values in today's markets are obsolete/irrelevant before the
ink dries.

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