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Help Needed in Deciding to Pursue or Not... Large lot of telephones and parts

Started by Nick in Manitou, March 26, 2018, 09:06:19 PM

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Nick in Manitou

I am sure that I have looked on Craig's List more recently than a couple months ago, but this listing says that it was posted 2 months ago and updated 24 days ago.

I see that there is a lot of stuff...a number of AE40s, 302s, some 202s and what looks like a whole lot of other old phones in this lot. The photos are not great.

I have to admit that I would love to come across a great haul that would make me some money and be an enjoyable process, but I worry that my lack of knowledge and experience might cause me to either overlook a good deal or to get excited over a pile of stuff that would take years to go through and only return a small percentage of my investment.

So, I am throwing this out to the forum - hoping that if it is a great opportunity I am not tipping my hand to someone who will go get it before I do... ( dead link 04-02-21 )

I can better afford to pass up an OK deal rather than purchase something that will cost me too much money and suck up too much time in the process.

If some folks with more experience and knowledge could look at the photos in this Craig's List ad and let me know what they think I would appreciate it.

If the add has really been up for 2 months, I assume that they may be ready to deal...but then again, others have probably already offered them some amount for the whole lot and been turned down.

I have sent a message to see if the lot is still available and if they would be willing to sell a number of individual items, but less than the whole lot.

It looks like fun...and/but... a lot of time/work just to get it all sorted out.


Butch Harlow

It's a part hoarders dream come true. If you have 4k, and the space to put all that in, it's a good deal. No idea what's really in those boxes, but what's not adds up in my head to make it an excellent deal. You'd be polishing and fixing for the rest of your life, if that's what you want, go for it. Too bad no payphones.
Butch Harlow


That would be a really tough decision.  I didn't notice any particularly valuable items in the pictures, the the lot may be worth more than $4K altogether.  Do you have space for all that stuff and people to help move it all?  How much interest do you have in going through the lot and selling the items for the next few years?  Are you close enough to go to take a look?  If so, try to get a feel for how much the seller is willing to bargain.


Jim Stettler

Look it over and offer $1,500 if  it is worth it to you. They will probably sell for 2K or less.
The Questions are :

Do you have the spare cash?
Do you have the space to store them?
Do you have the market to get rid of them?
Do you want to restore them?
Maybe you should offer $750.00?

Jim S.
You live, You learn,
You die, you forget it all.


My 2 cents:  $4K is a lot of money, and that is a HUGE amount of work to sort through and sell or dispose of.   I have never bought a lot like this before, but I would be thinking:

1) Is there a small subset of the items that would reasonably allow you to get your money back so you could always dump (gift?) the rest and be whole.
2) If the answer to 1) above is "probably not", then offer a lower price where you are pretty confident the answer to 1) above is "yes".

I would have to look at is this way because there is probably a lot more stuff there than I'd have the enthusiasm to deal with..... ;)

Russ Kirk

I agree with Jim S and Rotardad. There is a lot of average phones. I do not see any rare or big money phones, so getting your money back will take a long time and great deal of efforts. Even if you go to a phone show, most of the attendees will already have these set in thier collections.  $4k is too much money for the work, high risk and little return.
- Russ Kirk


Wow, Nick!

It's a bit overwhelming isn't it? Someone's lifetime collection offered for one sum. I don't know what your personal situation is, that, to me is the key. I personally would approach the seller in person. Build a repore with them, so they know this would take a special individual to seriously consider such a purchase, and I AM that person. I'm sure they would want someone that will share the passion as the loved one that collected this massive collection. Make a offer.

I personally would love to own and go through that horde. I've yet to sell any of my phones, but that would soon change if I owned that! I have no doubt you could earn your investment back over time. I'm at retirement age, that would beat the heck out of working at Wal Mart part time!

Your decision....Good Luck & let us know how it turns out!


Panasonic 308/616 Magicjack service


Hey Nick;

I can't even remember when I first started in my "hobby" of treasure hunting for phones, but it is just another way to enjoy seeing and working on vintage phones! AND, you can make some cash on the side when you need/want to!

Yes, most all of what you see in the photos here are common, often seen phones, but all you have to do is to take a short look at eBay to see just how many "common" phones are sold ever-single-day. And, there are WAY more than enough phones & parts there to easily make your money back, even on the asking price. I'm sure the seller would haggle a bit, but don't insult him by offering him 50% of his asking price. Remember, this could very well be a family member of a deceased phone collector, and often, they can get rather perturbed if you try to low-ball them.

You just have to determine if you have the space for it all, and IF you will be able to justify the enormous pile-o-phones to your spouse/parents, etc (if you need to). That really isn't that much $$$, and as you go through it, you can easily sell your unwanted items as you restore them or part them out.
Ray Kotke
Recumbent Casting, LLC


Looks a lot like my phone collecting style! Hoard them away and do very little work on them along the way. I dust mine just a little more often though I think.

As mentioned by everyone so far, no real treasures visible there but lots of stuff that could take a long time to accumulate elsewhere. Lots of every day wood as well which are very slowly dropping close to $0 each in value. Numerous items do appear to have been pulled apart or scavenged for Parts which always makes reassembly much more difficult. "As was" rather than "as is" would certainly be better.

It could be a lot of fun for a relatively low investment. First item of importance for me would be is it close enough to easily make many trips back and forth to get it all home. I suspect it is but having to rent a truck to be able to move it all at once including a night or two on the road would change things dramatically.

No doubt you are going to want to sort out some keepers and then quickly move most of the duplicates and items that you aren't interested in on to new owners. If you have the time to work at it and this all sounds like fun I would say go for it?! But if you will be burdened with it for decades hearing "I told you so" then I t likely isn't worth it.



It looks like an old collection that has been cherry picked of all the valuable stuff.  I expect the items that would make quick, easy money have already been sold.  All that stuff may retail for $4000 eventually but there is a lot of risk and work involved. 
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409


I agree.   Most of what I see are the leftovers that don't have much value.  The wood phones are very common, probably only worth about $75 each and then you have to deal with the shipping.  The desk phones aren't worth much either.  I wouldn't give more than $2k, maybe less.  You will spend a lot of time sorting the good from the bad, not to mention the space needed to store this collection.


Lots of activity went on at some point in time. Maybe building phones to supply antique stores or malls. I hadn't looked at all the pictures to see the quantity of bits and pieces. To save much of this does need someone who lives close by to scoop it up and get it back into the phone collector chain.



I would want to see what is in the various boxes.  One of them has "WE #2 dials" written on it, so there may be something of value in that box.  I would be a bit nervous about seeing what is in the pants leg on top of the box though.


Nick in Manitou

Wow, Thanks everyone for speaking up!  I think that a lot of wisdom and experience has been voiced here.

Thanks John (Teleplay) for adding the photos.  We were just getting ready to go out to meet friends for dinner when I spotted the ad for this lot and was pushing the limits of the clock when I posted this I knew I didn't have time to post the photos as I would have liked to.  Teleplay stepped in and did that and I appreciate it!

I have not heard back from the seller in response to my emailed general inquiry yesterday, so I sent another one just now.

The seller is not at all far from me from the general location indicated in the ad and I am itching to go take a look as soon (if) I hear back from them.

About 10 years ago we had 40 acres and 5 buildings on a ranch in Colorado...picking up whole vehicles to tinker with did not cause space we are in a typical modest size suburban type home with no basement...hardly enough room for tools, let alone finding room for projects!

Just yesterday we were discussing the possibility/need for building a shed to house the stuff emptied out of a storage unit. (We would have to start construction right away if we were to purchase this lot.)

I am not working (my wife is the breadwinner) so I officially should have time to devote...but do I have the stick-to-it-ness to go through the whole lot over a course of years? Also, like most of the folks my age (67), I may not have a job but I have plenty on my list of to-dos.

So where I stand now (with the input given from the forum so far) is that I hope to go see what is there.  I hope to get a chance to look into those boxes and try to do a quick, loose inventory of what is available, and figure out what the sensible course of action would be. If I could bring in some income, that would be very helpful...but I need to ensure that the whole load doesn't become a burden.

Additional input is appreciated as I await a response from the seller.

A sincere thanks to all those who have spoken up with advice.  Most of the time a decision to purchase a phone or two can be treated lightly and really have little impact on one's life overall...but this lot would be like someone moving is with us!


Nick in Manitou

Yes, Larry, we were wondering if there was a whole person attached to that leg!