One of the things I always like to be on the lookout for when I go out hunting is vintage electronics.
This can include radios, televisions, telephones, personal computers, record players, calculators, video games and consoles, guitar amplifiers and those little stomp box things. Anything old and electronic MIGHT be worth some money. Even if just for the parts.
One of the best things about old electronics is that it’s very easy to find out what they’re selling for on eBay. They will almost always have a brand name and model number that you can just punch into your smart phone’s eBay app and find out instantly what that particular item is worth. If you don’t have eBay’s app on your phone, you should get it today. It’s not perfect, but it’s free so it pays for itself in no time.
Here are some names to be on the lookout for:
- ACOUSTIC RESEARCH
- ALTEC LANSING
- BELL TELEPHONE
- SCOTT ELECTRONICS
- STEWART WARNER
- WESTERN ELECTRIC
- ZENITH WALTON
Now, this is NOT a complete list by any means, just a few brands that have sold for big bucks recently. Even brands that you think of as modern, such as Sony, can be worth a lot of money if the item is old enough and in good condition. A 1950s era Sony TR-6 transistor radio sold for over $4,300 recently on eBay.
This does NOT mean that everything made by these companies is valuable, but keep your eyes open.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is old instruction manuals, catalogs, user’s guides, etc. Heck, even the empty box that an old radio came in can be worth a few big bucks to the right person.
Often, even spare or extra parts, such as vacuum tubes, blank cassette tapes, or record player needles can be valuable. A lot of this stuff the companies stopped making years ago and it’s really hard to find. You’d be amazed at what this stuff can sell for. A single vintage Western Electric vacuum tube sold for over $1,800 recently on eBay. This is the kind of thing you can pick up for a dollar at a garage sale, if you’re lucky and you know what you’re looking for.
Always try to test the item first, especially at a thrift store. The big stores will usually have special counters with outlets available. If there is a dangerous short in the wires, better to find out at Goodwill than when you get home.
If you can’t test it for some reason, such as it not having a power cord, no matter how good the thing looks on the outside, it’s best to describe it as UNTESTED & FOR PARTS ONLY. Make sure you’re clear about that in your listing’s title. I can guarantee you that you’ll get negative feedback if you make someone pay to ship back a thirty pound radio that doesn’t work.
If you can test it and it powers up, take a picture of it with the power on. A bright red, glowing power light will definitely make your listing look better. If you’re really motivated, maybe make a short video showing it working. Post it on someplace like YouTube and include the link to it in your listing. For big ticket, big money items, it can make a nice difference in the final selling price.
The most important piece of advice I can give you for this category is NEVER offer free shipping, unless maybe the item sells for thousands of dollars. Even then, you’ll need to figure out shipping costs and factor that expense into the initial listing price. These old electronics can be extremely heavy and can cost a ton of money to ship. Offering free shipping is one of the biggest mistakes beginners make. Don’t work for free!
As always, your best source for current prices is eBay itself. Here is a page you can look at for some current selling prices on vintage electronics. This page doesn’t include things like guitar amps or video games. That’s a topic we’ll maybe save for another day.
Good luck and see you next time!
When Santa Clause was first being made into statues, figurines, and paintings (about 150 years ago, give or take) his suit was sometimes blue, not red. Part of this was due to artist Thomas Nast and the way he portrayed Santa. So if you ever see an old blue Santa for sale somewhere, think hard about buying it! No promises it’s worth anything but, if you can get it on the cheap, it might be worth the risk!