HP42S Purchase -- was I soaked?


Greetings all,

Inspired by Thomas Okken's excellent work with Free42, I have kept my eyeballs peeled for a real HP42S.

Tonight, I stumbled across one in the last 17 minutes of an online auction on a website whose name I care not to mention for fear of inspiring groans and eyeball rolling. After a few minutes of fierce back and forth (hopefully against real bidders and not a "shill"), I landed this coveted fish for US$305. I thought this seemed not bad, since I am sure I have seen these things go for upwards of $400.

The manual, case, and box are included. The seller claims the thing is in working condition and indeed at least one of the screen shots shows the calculator on with a normal looking 2-line 42S display.

However, it is hardly mint, as the prior owner did a number on the faceplate just above the keypad scratching his initials therein--once I get the device I will seek advice about how (or whether) to restore this. Also, in some of the closeups there seems to be crud, dust, skin bits, etc, in the some of the key wells.

Forget that I am in Canada and still have to worry about shipping and perhaps duty. Just considering the description and the final price, did I do well, or .... (refer to subject line query here). I understand that HP42S's though not rare, are not flooding the market, so it is not uncommon for them to sell for several times their original MSRP of $120.




The only thing that is important is what you feel. If you don't feel you got soaked, then you didn't. It really shouldn't matter what others think.

I will say, though, there is one HP seller on ebay that sells average or below items at mint prices. If you bought from him, you most assuredly paid too much. And no, that seller is not me.

Edited: 28 May 2006, 12:49 a.m.


One thing you may want to try (for future reference) is to do a search on recent sales. There are ways to do this (try looking for advanced search options) so that you can obtain a list of recently sold, say, HP42S calculators. That should give you a decent idea of the average going price of whatever it is you are looking for.

But as Mike already pointed out, it really does not matter what others think. It only matters if _YOU_ feel good about your purchase.


Well, the seller has been extremely helpful so far, and this sale closed only a few hours ago.

The only thing that makes me queasy is that some sacrilegeous chowderhead carved his monogram with a thumbtack or a key or something into the faceplate, like a preteen lover carving initials in an ol' sycamore tree....

Apart from that, I am told the calculator works and the batteries are fresh. Hopefully Canada Customs won't stick me too much for duty. I will post an update when I get the thing in couple of weeks.

thanks for the support,



I took the advice about doing a retroactive search and, alas, it looks like I am paying a little on the high side. Recent auctions of units in better cosmetic condition have sold for anywhere between US$200-300 or so. A few have been snapped up very quickly due to a low "buy it now" price.

Live and learn. I am right now looking for an HP28S, but will research a little more and be a little more patient. I just got so caught up in the last 10 minutes of that auction!

So, I don't feel all that bad about my acquisition, but I do wish perhaps I had been a little less impetuous.

But there is good news--at least I am not paying $300 for shipping ;)



I saw that auction. Very rare to see 40+ bids. It was probably the box that drove the price up. While they are fairly common, they seem to cause a run up when it's a whole package with manuals and original box filler bits.

FWIW, I've purchased from the seller before, a straight-up-group. They specialize in goverment surplus. The previous owner - DOE? The Department Of Energy...


On reflection I figured the box had something to do with it. I must admit that in the last few minutes of the auction the rapidly climbing price really egged me on--I figured, perhaps somewhat credulously, that someone really really wanted this thing, and there was some very good reason for the how things were unfolding. So, I proceeded with somewhat higher bids than I expected with boldness.

The seller did just tell me about the DOE connection, which amuses me--you'd figure that a gov't agency would provide for a slicker look to the labelling of its equipment :) And this one isn't the worst either--there is another in active auction right now that is scratched up front and back with the initials.

Thanks, Randy, I feel a little better. But an estimated 80-100 bucks is the most I have every paid for an 18-year-old cardboard box ;). Maybe this purchase is the beginning of me becoming a collector.



Welcome and good luck for your collection!

If you don't want to pay cardboard boxes (there are cheaper sources ;) ) or manuals (spend the bucks for the museum DVD once and you get nearly all of them! Thanks Dave!), you can get the calcs you want for less money. It depends exclusively on the focus of your beginning collection, so it's your own decision.

Good luck in hunting!


A misgiving I have about the government surplus connection is that possibly the unit was used less than lovingly by someone without a personal attachment to it. The photos are not the clearest, but it looks like there may be some dents, pits and even buckling on the faceplate. Hopefully she cleans up well.

As for me paying a little too much of a cardboard box, there is some good karma here--I just picked up a TI83 for my girlfriend, new, for a fraction of the MSRP, and there is a local reseller in my neck of the woods who sells the 49g+ and the 12C platinum, new, for much less than the going MSRP at the local university bookstore. So there is some balancing out. These are hardly vintage units, but if I am becoming a collector it couldn't hurt to pick them up. Maybe I will never take them out of the box, like a Barbie collector, or like Nigel and that one guitar in Spinal Tap that had never been played and still had the tag on it :)

But what's the fun of that!


p.s., I am surprised that Thomas Okken, HP42S guru, hasn't chimed in about this yet. You out there?


I am surprised that Thomas Okken, HP42S guru, hasn't chimed in about this yet. You out there?

Sure! Always lurking. :-)

I bought my HP-42S in 1993 -- in a store. Mint; case, box & manual included, $110. My advice: forget eBay; get in your time machine. ;-)

I'm not much of a collector myself (25, 67, 15C, 42S, 48G). $300 for an HP-42S seems a bit high; something around $200 is more typical, but then again I must admit that I haven't checked HP-42S prices on eBay in a while.

OT -- the best deal I ever got on eBay was a $33 HP-25 -- I sniped it with only seconds to spare. That was pretty exciting! I also paid $177 for an HP-67 once; a bit much but I didn't mind because it's just such a lovely little machine.

- Thomas


Yeah, I am learning that $300 is a bit high. This seller is a bit on the high side to ship to Canada too, and I splurged on the insurance. Plus I have to deal will Canada Customs, which is a real crap shoot--could cost me nothing, or as much as 20-25% including that danged assessment fee. Bottom line, this could work out to around US$380 by the time I get it in a couple of weeks. And, as I have yammered on for some hours now, it isn't mint. Maybe to get rid of that dastardly engraving I will airbrush it in lime green.

Perhaps karma will smile on me and I will be blessed with a mint HP65 for $1.99. ;)

At least I got a nice vintage box in all this. If anyone wants to pop $100 on a well worn HP41CV box (just the box), you can have it ;)



Let's see: I bought my first 42, new, for $90 through Educalc. When it lost 6k of D'zign's programs (with my personalizations) i sold it for what i paid for it to someone who was taking a night class with me down at the union hall. When i became a (GASP!!) collector i found one at the flea for $20, albeit w/o box or manual. A couple of months ago i was in Chile and saw 2 for sale at the local mercado de pulgas and the asking price was 70 gollies (american) each. One was worth that. I left them for Chilean surveyors to find but did pick up a couple of brochures in Spanish for Dave's next iteration of the Museum DVD.
So; no you weren't soaked any more than anyone buying on ebaby. We all get soaked there. What we need is for Richard Ottosen and his partner to start making the tools of our trade so we aren't dependent on hp only. That drives up the prices because as coburnin said; engineers will pay even higher prices that collectors. And we can afford it.


It's not only the buyer that has a gauntlet to run. I have a few calcs to sell, but I don't know how to get them sold without a lot of hassle.

I just wish I knew of some way to sell calculators other than the "E"-site or the HPMuseum Classifieds. The E-site is a free-for-all and every time I post something on the classifieds I get a lot of spam for money scams, automated responses, sales pitches, etc.

Did I mention that I get ALOT of spam when I post there ?


The shipment was very quick--4 days from Idaho to Toronto, AND it was stopped at customs.

Exactly as described and pictured. The box is very nice. Works fine. My only beef is that this thing has been taken apart--the face plate peels away slightly in the upper corners and needs regluing. Any advice here?

Between the cost, shipping, and duty, I paid about US$380 all told. Yes, a little much for a less than mint albeit totally functional unit. None the less (and maybe this is a lame rationalization to defend against buyer's remorse), I have a strange sense of satisfaction about this purchase. It is a lovely little machine.

And I have a very nice 18-year-old box to add to my collection too!

Ebay karma has smiled at me--I did get a new HP49G+ and HP12C platinum rather cheaply. So it balances out.

Still waiting to snipe that $20 mint HP-65....


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