Monday, October 08, 2007

Electronic Antiques

#304 Electronic Antiques

It had to happen. Your Commodore or early Apple computer now is worth serious bucks. Especially if it still works. Likewise your original Palm Pilot (still the best model they made) or your Sharp Wizard.

REAL electronic antiques? There’s no market for them. Try to sell a 1920s Atwater Kent radio or a TravLer radio phonograph combination. No takers. Same with the Victor Talking Machines from the 1920s and 1930s. Antique electronics of an age that make them real antiques even if not electronics don’t matter.

Timex computers matter. So do Osbornes. And car alarms. Car alarms? Yes. If you had one on your 1980 Datson and thought to remove it, it is now worth something, even though it only works on 1980 Datsons, and you can count the number of those remaining on the toes of one foot.

Transistor radios from the 1950s and 1960s are on the fence. The market for them is small, but appears to be growing. This only counts if the radio has a single band. After the FCC mandated that all radios have at least an AM and FM band, the earlier ones became valuable. Even more so, now that the AM band has been extended past 1600. But this is baby stuff compared with the traffic in unusable pagers, early cell phones (the brick-like devices that built strong bodies 12 ways,) and the Palm Pilots.

The pattern emerging here has a demographic counterpart.

Today’s collectors believe “elderly” means someone around 40 or 45 and they respect their elders. Any antique human beings (those born before, say, 1970 ) are right up there with steamer trunks and padded vinyl seat kitchen chairs and empty cans of Knickerbocker Beer (for display and amusement purposes, only.)

The only 25 year old electronic knick-knack that seems to have escaped the upward value spiral is the video game. Pac Man is sooooooooooooo yesterday.

If a pieces of stuff can become a collectible antique in under 25 years, what do we call the older stuff, archeological finds?

Most old stuff is like young kids, puppies and kittens. Wonderful to look at and play with, as long as they’re not your own.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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