another ebay seller's question ...

i've got another questions from a seller's perspective ...

how deep do you think the demand is for relatively common HPs on eBay?

For instance, let's say I have 3 or 4 HP-10Cs or HP-35s. Am I going to drive the price down if I put 'em on all at once? I mean, I have 50 or 60 HPs to auction off, spread out unevenly over about 12 different models, and I'd like to get 'em gone as quickly as possible; at the same time, I don't want to drive down the price by flooding the market. But, given the size of eBay, I don't even know if flooding with such a small amount is possible. Suggestions and thoughts?



You are on teh right track! You need to determine which is more priority (a) Selling the calculators ASAP, or (b) Maximizing your sales?

I'd recommend taking your time and selling similar items one at a time. Experience shows that this approach keeps prices down. You also need to see who else is selling the same type of item at the same time. Yet another HP12C, for example, will not stirr the passion of collectors to click the BIN button faster than the speed of light!

Also keep in mind, that detailed descriptions of the item and a reasonably good pictures also help. Typical bidders want to know about the functionality of the display (any dead pixels on LCD? All LED segments work?), dents, scratches, beanding, battery-contact corrosion, covers, modules/accessories included, and so on. State these attributes whether present (calculator has dents for example) or not.

Don't rush the auctions and be patient with the whole process. You will find it to be rewarding and something interesting to learn.



10C's are not "relatively common," as you'll find out when you list them. (Did you mean "10B's"?) Remember that the available auction records, which smart buyers and sellers both will search before bidding or selling, only goes back a limited amount of time.That means that a machine that is not uncommon, like a 71B, say, can go for a large premium over the average price, as long as there haven't been many sold recently. We have one seller everyone loves to hate who relies on this phenomenon. His may be the only 71B selling at any given time, and he asks a whopping multiplier on a price you might think of as reasonable.

So I guess that means you actually could drive down the prices for 71Bs if you sold five or more all at one time. Your market for these luxury items is not all of eBay, but all bidders willing to buy right now. And what they will be willing to pay mainly depends on recent history, if they are smart, or the phase of the moon if they are not. Of course, for common calcs, like the 10B, it would be hard to affect the price, because the market is much larger. And for true rarities, it would also be hard to sell too many, unless the quantities offered made collectors reassess how many of the items were actually in circulation, and thus to recalculate their worth.

But in the middle, you can get a saturation phenomenon. I bid rashly when I started collecting, but I've gotten cagier. I look for oversupply situations as one way to get relative bargains. Choosing when an auction will close can be important. As a seller, you want to close in the evening in the US, since that's the most active time in the biggest marketplace. People bid at work, too, but things really seem to pick up around 5:30 PM Eastern Time. (As a buyer, you want to avoid those times, if you can.)

Good luck!


thanks for the thoughts!

now, here's a related question. i see that the seller everyone luvs to hate sells onl y by high BIN prices. i don't want to do that. my feeling is i should just open with the same 9.99 i use for just about everything and let the chips fall where they may. am i being foolish doing this? should I follow that *other* sellers lead?


You can get unlucky doing that, which is to say the buyer can get lucky.

I usually set an opening bid amount about 1/2 of the price I think an item will sell for. That usually scares off bottom feeders, which is good. But set it too high, and you will scare off casual bidders, which is bad, since they can turn into serious bidders later. As a buyer, I dislike high "reserve" prices that tend to encourage people to bid higher than they otherwise would, initially. That could be good for a seller, but it's one of the places I personally draw the line to do as I would be done by. 8)

I should make it clear that I don't do an awful lot of eBay selling. But these are the rules I follow when I do, and they have worked well for me.


hey, howard:
well, i put one of my not-cosmetically great 10Cs up with an opening amount of $24.95 ... and guess who jumped right on it with the first bid? yup, that's right: you know who!
i hope he's not going to take me to the cleaners on this one; ie win the auction, turn around, add some feet to the back of the calc where they're missing, magically make the "U.S. Gov't" etching disappear, and sell it for a ton more. otoh, i guess if he can do all that, more power to him!



You need not wory about you know who. H is cheap and very easy to outbid.

I noticed that you placed your auction in Vintage Electronics rather than Calculators. I had to do some extra searching to find it.


i didn't even know there was a "calculators" heading. maybe i'll see if i can switch 'em from "vintage electronics".


eBay propaganda states that listing in two different categories will boost bids by 18%, and increase final sale price by 17% on average, but your listing fees are doubled also. Maybe you could write a program that will calculate the break even point ;-)




To keep your cost down, you might want to leave the current auction in the category listed and have future auctions posted in the Calculators (or any of it's sub-categories) category.

I suggest that you add a classified ad here to point to the URL of the HP-10C auction.


Edited: 30 Dec 2005, 11:37 a.m.


Looking for "misfiled" listings is another way to get bargains!

I strongly advise you to add "Consumer Electronics > Gadgets & Other Electronics > Calculators > Scientific Calculators > Hewlett-Packard" or "Consumer Electronics > Gadgets & Other Electronics > Calculators > Vintage Calculators" to your listing. Since you have a bid, you can't change the listing category for free, so you'll have to add one of the above. Either one will do to get your listing noticed by folks who would understand what a 10C is. For something like that, a posting to the Classfied section of this website would also get your auction noticed by people who might want to own a 10C.



If I WERE you I would simply post a classified ad on this site. There are enough of us, HP calculator fans, here to buy all of your stuff. You can sell them for any price you want or any price we would offer you. You will avoid paying ebay fee. You won't part with your calc for price that you don't want to. Coburlin won't bid on your calcs. You won't get as much money as you would on Ebay but you should get a fair amount. After all, doing so would benefit you as well as those of us who buy from you.


Although this site is a great reference it PALES in comparison to EBay. Believe me, I've tried both. I tried to sell some BRAND NEW 41CX's here with no result, even though I thought I'd sell them cheap here to the real affectionatos!



re: "I noticed that you placed your auction in Vintage Electronics rather than Calculators. I had to do some extra searching to find it. "

Does this really make a difference?

When I, as a potential buyer, look for something on ebay, I search "all of ebay". As far as I know, but maybe I am missing something, I've found whatever was available with my search words in the sale title. I guess if you just want to see what's available in "calculators" the seller has to have put it in the correct category.

How does everybody else search?


How many hits for outboard motors do you get when you search for "hp" in all of eBay? 8)

Searching the categories is helpful to find stuff you are interested in among appropriately categorized items. Broader searches have to be carefully limited with search term exclusions and inclusions to be effective. Both have their place in my toolkit.



"How many hits for outboard motors do you get when you search for "hp" in all of eBay? 8)"

Yeah - I discovered that. And then when you try to be more specific, you find all the 45 hp motors!

So far, "hp calculator" seems to work pretty good.

Part of selling well on ebay is putting as much specific info into your listing title as possible.

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