New HP Museum Section - Counterfeit Labels - A Suggestion


I think the Museum could/should (may be coaxed to) provide a valuable service and addition to the great HP Museum site by providing a page of high resolution close-up images of authentic HP Labels.

Along with these images we could add "Points to check for", in determining whether or not a label iscounterfeit.

With the new counterfeit labels, it would be a benefit to new HP Collectors.

I see nothing wrong with these labels, if they are used for ones own collection. But I suspect we will soon see a proliferation of counterfeit labels showing up on HP Calculators and being billed as mint.



I think a section on spotting fake labels is a good idea but I don't think that high-resolution scans will be effective in most cases. Many of the differences such as thickness, reflectivity, ink depth, texture etc. will not show up well (or at all). Color differences are also a problem because I may get the colors, brightness and contrast to look mostly right on my monitor but what they look like on yours is another matter. Then the viewer has the challenge of comparing a backlit non-life-size image to a real object. I find that I can never get the image to look exactly like the real item.

Adding to the difficulty is that I know that some genuine HP labels have varied during the production runs. I wouldn't want to put up scans of what I have and then have people accused of selling fakes because they have a different, but legitimate, variation.

I think the best we can do is to describe the fakes that have been seen, and include a photo/scan in those cases where it does show an obvious difference. In these cases, I think we should have photos/scans showing both the real and fake items so the viewer can see the relative differences between real and fake rather than trying to judge the difference between a scan and a real object.

As far as I know, I haven't seen a fake label yet and since I tend to buy at thrift shops and flea markets where the prices are probably too low to support to support faking, I may never see one. I'll need a lot of help to do this.


I don't consider these unethical, in and of themselves. They do serve a good purpose for one own collection.

But there are very well defined differences that might get by someone who does not have something to compare against.

I wonder what the consensus is on how important the fake label really is. How much would that detract from the collectibility of an HP? How much would one be defrauded by these labels?


Can you supply scans and/or descriptions of the knock-offs you have?

Since someone quoted a price of $.18 to make labels, I would consider the maximum price of an HP with a fake one to be the price of one missing the label plus $.18. The minimum would probably be the price of a calculator missing the label, minus some small amount for the bother of removing it.

For a calculator to use, I wouldn't consider the lack of a label to be an issue. From a collecting standpoint, I would consider one with a fake label to be worth significantly less than one with a real label in any condition. I'm not sure what the exact deduction would be. Generally, I only consider calculators in such condition in cases where the prices are only a few dollars anyway and, even then, the issue doesn't come up that often.

"How much would that detract from the collectibility
of an HP? How much would one be defrauded by these labels? "

A few days ago you said: "The condition of the labels are important to the value and quality of the collectible calculator." I agree that the labels matter but it's hard to define "how much" someone would be defrauded. I think that being a little defrauded is like being a little pregnant.


I suppose it comes down to why one would want to fake a label.

I can only see three reasons.

1) the original label contains needed information and has become lost, damaged, unreadable, etc.. and a replacement is needed to retain the important information.

2) the original is lost, damaged, etc., and the owner (for reasons of personal preference) wants to replace it.

3) the original is lost, damaged, etc., and the owner (for commercial gain) wants to replace it.

If you look at these in order, Mr. 1 does not need anything that looks like the original, and I see calculators with liquid paper, adhesive labels, and all other means of sticking formulae to the calculator. There is no problem with this. It's his calculator and he can do what he wants.

Mr. 2 is going one step further. He wants the stickers to look like they were meant to be there. I suppose it's a bit like my filofax with an "intel inside" sticker on it. There is no intent to defraud. However, if he does a good job (and his motives may be restoration) it may well be that further down the line of ownership his work may be mistaken for original manufacture.

Mr. 3 may be doing no more than Mr. 2 (he may be doing less) but it is his motive that we question.

The solution?

Well I really don't think there is one. We can't (at least at the moment) call in Scotland Yard, the FBI, or the Federal Police to investigate calculator fraud, or have international calculator experts verify the goods before each sale. Calculators are not in the same league as renaissance oil paintings.

I suppose it is a personal thing that collectors will have to decide. It's similar to the restore or not restore argument (and that argument is going on in art circles too).

If a calculator is built up from the parts of several dead calculators, the person doing it may not be knowlegable enough to realise that the resulting calculator is not feasable (gold balls in a CV for instance, or a very early serial number CX). And without that knowlege, can we complain if they don't explicitly pass it on?

And what of the difference between a CV with added X functions and Xmemory (internally) produced today with one produced just as the XFunction became available. And how would we know? (I suppose some expert could tell us that a particular type of insulation on wires was not used before X years ago -- but would we be that lucky, and would we pay to find out?)

And what do you do with such a calculator? Smash it to bits?


this may be a bit off target, sorry. i have a 1957 bsa 650 road rocket. it has after market copy "tank badges" (a bsa symbol on the gas tank). these were made in (i think)taiwan. i don't think that these lower the value of the machine much if any at all. what does lower it's value is that it leaks oil like it's got stock in texaco.
it looks to me like a lot of the postings to these label threads are trying help to establish some ground rules for the value of our calculators. i think that the value of an rpn hp is derived from a different source that that of a beenie baby or baseball card and i believe that everyone here does too. i guess a calcer should get some "points for originality", i don't know how many/much, but after that dave's 18 cent rule seems like a good guideline. personaly, i'd rather have a functioning rat than a like-new-in-the-box-looking unit with bad keys.
btw steve; did kawasaki really make bsa a-10's for the australian police into the late '60s?


"i think that the value of an rpn hp is derived from a different source that that of a beenie baby or baseball card and i believe that everyone here does too."

I think, though, that the prices are derived in much the same way. It's difficult to explain why HP-70s and 10s, cost far more than HP-41s without getting into the standard collectible supply and demand explanation.


I think how much it matters is proportional to the condition of the calculator. As you get into the new in the box realm, the lack of a label (or a repro - same thing in my opinion) is going to hurt a lot. At the other end, if it was described as "poor" I wouldn't be surprised if the label was damaged or missing.

Fraud? I would say that if it wasn't disclosed it would clearly be fraud - perhaps with an exception for calcs described as poor or worse.

Of course this assumes the seller knows. I think the label makers would be doing everyone a big favor if they made the point to include something like "(repro)" in small print at the edge of their labels. You know that someday these are going to turn up for sale as real. This has been going on for years on ebay with reproduction nautical instruments, though it got better after some collectors started sending emails to the bidders. When the sellers get caught they say "I didn't know! I got it from some guy who told me it was real! I'm the one who got ripped off!" Some sellers mix parts from real and repro items and don't bother to say so. It would be awfully nice if we could avoid this as much as possible with calculators.

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