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    Re: Buying a sextant- a cautionary tale.
    From: Paul Hirose
    Date: 2006 Apr 28, 00:00 -0700

    George Huxtable wrote:
    > It was being sold by a fellow who had
    > used it, as a navigating officer in the 1960's, and had inherited it from 
    his father who had possessed it since the start of his
    > merchant-navy career, in the 1920's. So: good provenance, no antique-dealers 
    involved to add their markup and polish the
    > scale-divisions off the arc. It was stated that mirrors, shades, and arc 
    were all in perfect condition, though a brass spring-clip
    Did the seller explain how an arc in "perfect condition" could be
    illegible such a critical area? As a former navigator, he didn't have
    the excuse of ignorance. To check index error he would have had to read
    the arc near 0 degrees.
    It may help to write up a set of questions covering all aspects of an
    instrument's condition. Make it clear that you're not looking for a mere
    wall ornament. Save this in a file, then copy and paste it into a
    message to the seller each time you spot an interesting sextant. Many
    sellers write maddeningly vague descriptions, and it can be tedious to
    keep typing up the same questions.
    If you bid, try to wait until about 2 or 3 seconds before the close of
    the auction. This is known as "sniping". It will not give you any
    advantage over someone who uses the proxy bidder correctly. However,
    it's an effective countermeasure to the "ratchet bidders" who raise a
    little at a time until they beat you, and the "counterpunchers" who hit
    back with a higher bid if anyone knocks them off the top position. Even
    if you end up winning, these tactics raise the item's price.
    At least, don't bid until the last day of the auction. Bidding early is
    a bad idea. Once you enter a bid, you can't retract it without getting a
    black mark on your record. What if a more desirable item appears later?
    What if the engine in your car blows up and you need the money?
    The only sextant I bought through eBay was a Kollsman periscopic bubble
    type. The price was a little high, but the instrument is functionally
    and cosmetically in fine shape. I have it still.
    By the way, does anyone have a problem with the line formatting in
    George's messages? Long lines (the full width of the window) alternate
    with short lines a few words long. Nothing is missing, but the
    appearance is ugly and tiring to read. The problem began a few weeks
    ago, and affects his messages only.

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