What Sells: Vintage Electronics

Vintage calculators and audio gear are among the items coveted most often by vintage electronics collectors. Condition is extremely important, so thoroughly inspect and research item.

What Sells

Top-selling items include:
  • Calculators by Calcu-pen, Casio, HP
  • Reel-to-reel tape recorders by Akai, Ampex, Nagra, Pioneer, Teac
  • Speakers by Acoustic Research, Altec, Cerwin Vega, JBL, Jensen, Klipsch
  • Tube amplifiers by Altec, Fisher, McIntosh, RCA
  • Turntables by Garrard, JVC, Marantz, Technics, Thoren
Research Resources

The following websites have photo galleries and other information to help you identify and describe vintage electronics:







Condition & Testing
  • Scratches and scuffs
  • Malfunctioning displays
  • Broken or missing tubes
  • Stuck knobs and controls
  • Torn grill cloth on speakers,
  • Torn or blown speaker cones
  • Water damage, mold or mildew
  • Frayed or missing cables and cord
  • Missing parts and manuals

Age, moisture, and temperature and humidity fluctuations can also contribute to deterioration of speaker cones and other delicate parts, so find out how the item was stored and when it was last cleaned or repaired.

Things to test:

  • Powers on/off
  • Buttons, knobs and controls work
  • Display lights up (if applicable)

If possible, hook up audio components to an existing system to test functionality of speakers, receivers, etc. If this isn’t possible, you can sell the item “as-is” but the final sales price and number of bids will be lower.

If the item doesn’t function fully, it might still be valuable; research comparable items to see whether they’re sold for parts or “as-is.”

Key Details

Include these details in your listing:
  • Brand
  • Model name/number
  • Age (if known)
  • Features
  • Accessories
  • Condition

It’s helpful to include close-up photos of all controls and panels, as well as logos, stickers and other markings.

Storage and Shipping

Vintage electronics should be stored in a well-ventilated room, away from children, pets and smoke. Don’t place an item next to heating vents or air conditioners either, since temperature and humidity changes can cause damage. Cigarette smoke can damage sensitive electronics, so ask the owner if the item came from a smoke-free environment.

Large consumer electronics should be double-boxed and insured for protection during shipment. Use the original packaging whenever possible to store and ship an electronic item. If the original packaging is unavailable, use boxes made of a durable corrugated cardboard for the outer and inner cartons. If feasible, enclose each item in an anti-static bag. You will need to use a cushioning material, on all six sides, to protect the item from shock. Foam is best, but if it is not available, bubble wrap should be used as a substitute. Do not use styrofoam, peanuts, or popcorn in the inner box since they will not support the item in all directions during shipping.

If shipping more than one item in a box, ensure that the items do not touch, and that they are each cushioned individually. Remove all accessories, including cables and remotes, wrap them separately and place them in the box away from other items.

Tubes are very delicate and should be removed and wrapped individually in bubble wrap. Be careful when removing them because they’re easy to damage; you may also risk hurting yourself on exposed capacitors that still hold a charge. To understand the dangers and how to avoid them, visit the website at http://www.kbapps.com/tubeamptips.html.

Turntables are very delicate and require special packaging. Visit the website at http://www.theturntablefactory.com/packing.html for an online packaging tutorial.

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