Appraisals, value, the "Market" was Re: And $500 gets you...

Vintage Computer Festival vcf at
Wed Apr 13 09:39:34 CDT 2005

On Wed, 13 Apr 2005, John Foust wrote:

> >My real answer should have been, I take *ALL* datapoints that I can find
> >and turn them into a normalized valuation.  It is NOT a datapoint, but a
> >report on the current price as dictated by the market as a whole.  To say
> >that I'm "just one data point" entirely misses the point of what an
> >"appraisal" is.
> To decry the notion that you're "just one data point" entirely misses the
> point of what a "market" or a "mailing list" is.  There's nothing
> wrong with being a well-known or respected expert, but you can't

Criticism is welcome; insults are not taken so well ;)  And I'm sorry if I
got a bit touchy after being described as a "dealer", but in my opinion
that word has a negative connotation in this hobby, and I don't want
people to be left with the wrong impression of just what it is I do.  And
in case you don't pay attention to signatures, mine has included a link to
the VintageTech website for at least the past four years, and a quick
stroll through the pages of my website explains EXACTLY what I do.  No
where on that website has it ever (and you can check with
said that I buy & sell computers.  And if you're really paying attention,
you'll notice that the "Buy/Sell/Trade Vintage Computers" included in my
signature is followed by "at", and a quick
stroll over there quickly reveals it's a trading place for collectors
that I happen to host along with Patrick Rigney.

> forget that there's no certification involved.  I hope you aren't
> disappointed when someone doesn't respect what you're saying.
> It's not your fault.

In fact, there is certification available:

I just have not yet had a need to go that full route, though I have
studied and do follow their principles, practices, and code of ethics.
It's in my best interest to do so in case I ever have to defend a
valuation for a client if, for example, they were to get audited or if
they were trying to recover compensation for a loss.

What I was trying to explain with my previous message was that there's a
difference between watching eBay and using that as a guide versus having a
wide breadth and depth of experience and knowledge coupled with a long
historical outlook and therefore having a strongly developed instinct for
what things are "worth".  I'm not saying I'm the only one here who knows
how to do this...far from it, as I know of at least half a dozen people
here who's valuations I would trust and who could just as authoritatively
provide appraisals if they chose to do that.  But I have made it my
business to understand this market, and I'm confident that I do, and to
have people constantly hold up eBay as the "market" is bothersome to me.

The real problem in all this is that this hobby, as a whole, is so
un/mis-informed when it comes to the values of old computers that you
consistently get these wild price fluctuations.  And the fact that most of
the actual sales occur through eBay only exacerbates the problem, because
the prices can and do wildly fluctuate there as well.  A stupid bidding
war can erupt between two inexperienced bidders who let their emotions
take them for a ride, driving up the price to a ridiculous level for
something that is a clearly being over-valued by both.  And yet others
get lucky by using the search engine creatively to find deals hidden away
where others don't find them, and walk away with virtual steals.

My apologies in advance to the person who posted the message, but a
perfect example is the person who just yesterday extrapolated a $300
valuation for a KIM-1 based on a lot that sold for $642.  This is an
entirely invalid approach to valuing something.  Aside from the fact that
this is but one data point, there might've been something in the lot more
desirable than the KIM-1 (in this case two of them) itself.  And in fact
there was, arguably.  The S-100 bus attachment in that auction is rare and
somewhat desirable to those who collect KIM-1 stuff or SBCs in general,
and I know some people would probably pay more for that then a KIM-1.

How many times does it need to be repeated that eBay is NOT the Market?  I
know a lot of people got into this hobby by assembling their collection
from eBay and so it is all they know, but understand that eBay is ONE PART
of the Market, and to think that the world is eBay, and eBay is flat, and
you fall off the world at the edges is foolish.

If you want to use auction results as a valuation, you would be better
served to use the sales numbers at the Vintage Computer Marketplace.  It
consists of a MUCH BETTER informed group of users (buyers and sellers
alike) and therefore the sales are way more consistent with what I would
consider "actual market value".  It doesn't get nearly the volume that
eBay does, but we're hoping to change that soon.

In the meantime, if anyone wants a quick & dirty valuation of something,
I'll be happy to provide a valuation via e-mail.  You can then couple my
response with whatever other information you have to make a much more
informed decision to buy or sell.


Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      

[ Old computing resources for business || Buy/Sell/Trade Vintage Computers   ]
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