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    Observations On Buying A Used Sextant On Ebay
    From: Joel Jacobs
    Date: 2004 Mar 22, 06:31 -0500
    I found the exchange about the cost of a Cassens and Plath sextant interesting, so a few observations about buying and selling on ebay from a regular seller and infrequent buyer who regularly tracks the winning prices on selected sextants of key manufacturers.
    Yes and No to their being no rationality to some of the bidding practices.
    Some standout examples over the last 5 months of "irrational exuberance":  An English Carl Zeiss sextant which was an exact duplicate of a standard Freiberger brought nearly $800.00 whereas a Freiberger in good condition normally brings around $400 - $450.00. And the recurring bids on USED ASTRA III B's, irrespective of whether they are the deluxe or standard version. The bidding on these frequently raises their price to a level that for a very few dollars more you can buy a new one with a guarantee of satisfaction on delivery, and an additional twelve month manufacturer's warranty. A NEW Astra III B is always available on ebay right alongside the used. One very common Tamaya Jupiter, MS 833 that had a full horizon mirror which went for well over $1200.00 on the basis that the device was custom retro-fitted by Baker- Lyman. IMO, the Jupiter is a Chevrolet compared to the Spica. The Navy buffs who spend from $500 to $600 on a Navy MK II, which except for its service in WW II, is an undistinguished design. Some of the 7/8th scale Freibergers that bring $500.00 almost the cost of a new one.
    On the low side: Just recently, a little used Tamaya-Nautech MS 733 Spica with two scopes sold recently for $580.00. My company sold it to the owner originally in 1977. The Navy MK III that went for $260.00 a couple of weeks ago or the one that went for $380. The Russian SNO-T and SNO-M sextants which are regularly sold by a U.S. Source at prices well below what their features should bring.
    Even though it is the odd balls that stick in my mind, and some lofty prices out weigh the bargains, the great majority of ebay sextant buyers seem to know their intrinsic values. By this I mean they pay what I think I would want to get for the same sextant if I had it for sale, and earn a fair profit. (The difference is we will take it back) They tend to be seriously interested in CELNAV and have done enough research on pricing not to go over board for obviously way over priced or run of the mill or shoddy stuff. On the other hand, there are enough new buyers who can get caught up in the excitement of the bidding process to have their competitive juices flow making them over bid. Another phenomenon is one or more people who try to see how high they can bid with out actually being the wining bidder. I find that very strange.
    Some general comments: Today there are only three different sextant manufacturers not counting the Russians. Tamaya, Cassens & Plath, and Freiberger. Some say that Tamaya is considering shutting down new sextant production. All these sextants cost a bundle when purchased new so that $1000.00 or more for a good quality C. Plath or Tamaya 733 is not unreasonable in my view. Furthermore, there are a number of those in the business that honesty believe that the older instruments were built to a higher level of quality than the relatively new ones and represent a much better value. So when someone says he paid so much for a "certain brand" used sextant when he could have bought a new one for little more, the buyer may have made a valid choice. Finding good used sextants is getting harder and harder and my sources see what is going on so there is constant pressure to raise their prices. Don't be surprised to see sextant prices going up starting in May.
    Areas to watch out for: Beware the sextant that is being sold by someone who says he doesn't know anything about them, IMO that's a signal that he will not be held responsible if you buy something that turns out to be less than you bargained for. Beware the instruments whose pictures are poorly done and which may show one mirror and not the other. If the description is skimpy so likely is the condition. And don't think you're smart enough not to be taken or that ebay will give you any help or their buyer protection is worth much unless you actually don't receive something.
    I hope this is of some help.
    Joel Jacobs, ebay ID, mymaryb2
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