Author Topic: Automatic Electric 40 Single Bid Win: Good deal, or am I missing something?  (Read 1158 times)

Offline KaiserFrazer67

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Just won this AE 40 on eBay tonight; mine was the only bid:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/252810526966

I'm a little surprised that no one else bid on it... is there something in the photos I'm not seeing, or is this about the limit of what most knowledgeable folks are willing to pay for an AE 40 in this condition?  I have handset caps for this phone, and cordage is not a problem.  I passed up a cheaper Buy It Now phone because it had one of those SATT dials like my AE 50 did, plus I'm sure it also had a party line ringer.  This looks like a normal dial, but it still may also have a party line ringer on it as well (40~ ringer--I assume that means "cycles/Hertz?"); I don't see an "S.L." on the coil tag--but I can get a straight-line ringer from several suppliers if I need to.  I'm especially glad the schematic, base code, and base decal are all still in very good shape.  It looks pretty clean inside, too.  The seller did seem a bit knowledgeable about shipping phones, since he already had it packed correctly before I made my packing request to him (handset off the cradle and wrapped separately, lots of bubble wrap/cushioning, package clearly marked "FRAGILE", etc.)

Base code is L 4123 A40    UK7 (guessing on the 7), with matching schematic code.  The only thing I've seen to decipher AE codes is Paul-F's later chart for AE 80s, 90s, etc., so if someone has a code chart for the older AEs, please let me know.

Thoughts and comments are welcome. 

Thanks much!
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 04:19:57 AM by KaiserFrazer67 »
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Offline LarryInMichigan

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The phone looks nice, but black AE40s are not difficult to find in the $20-$30 range.  The frequency ringer would also deter some potential bidders.

Larry

unbeldi

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Well, given the Bakelite damage, I thought it wasn't exactly cheap.  I had examined it because of the good pictures that the seller provided. It does seem all original however, even the transmitter and receiver are still the factory-issued parts.  It was made between 1948 and 1953, I believe, perhaps even narrower 1949-1952.
It also still has its original 40 Hz ringer.  You won't be able to retune that to ring on a modern line. Perhaps a clear sign for most not to buy.

Offline mariepr

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Gentlemen, I am the ebay seller.

unbeldi

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Gentlemen, I am the ebay seller.

Would you be able to tell me what the code is on the dial that is hidden in the dial picture behind the dial terminal posts?   I can see (=guess)  "K" and perhaps "2".  I suspect it is "UK" and a number.

Is "UK" also stamped on the condenser ?

"UK" is a QA code, the format of which we haven't quite figured out yet; it is quite possibly an encoded date.  If the identical code shows up on the base plate (UK7), on the handset elements (UK), on the dial, and condenser, the current hypothesis is that they were manufactured and/or installed at the same time.

L-4123 was the order number for the set, and this one is the most standard configuration at the time, with a high-impedance ringing bridge.  "A40" shows that it has a dial (A), and 40 is the frequency of the ringer (in hertz).

Offline mariepr

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Would you be able to tell me what the code is on the dial that is hidden in the dial picture behind the dial terminal posts?   I can see (=guess)  "K" and perhaps "2".  I suspect it is "UK" and a number.

Is "UK" also stamped on the condenser ?

"UK" is a QA code, the format of which we haven't quite figured out yet; it is quite possibly an encoded date.  If the identical code shows up on the base plate (UK7), on the handset elements (UK), on the dial, and condenser, the current hypothesis is that they were manufactured and/or installed at the same time.

L-4123 was the order number for the set, and this one is the most standard configuration at the time, with a high-impedance ringing bridge.  "A40" shows that it has a dial (A), and 40 is the frequency of the ringer (in hertz).


I'm unable to answer any of those questions as the phone was already on its way to the buyer when I saw this tread.  It was a 7 day auction and I would have been happy to provide additional information and images BEFORE the sale.  But now the questions come AFTER the sale.  What appeared to be a mutually satisfying transaction is instead buyer's remorse - as evidenced by the responses specifying why the buyer didn't get a good deal. 

Please, if you don't get a satisfying answer from your seller then just pass on the item.  I'm now be out ebay fees and shipping that I'll have to refund the buyer along with a return item strike on my seller rating.  While I don't make a living selling phones I'm not in this to lose money either.  It all could have been avoided by asking questions BEFORE rather than AFTER. 

Offline Doug Rose

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Marie....I feel your pain. It seems we sellers are looked at in a dim light. I have often asked the question:

                                          "How would eBay survive with out the sellers?"

It seems there are only bad sellers and good buyers....unless you sell ...then you know it is not a level playing field.

I wish all the good buyers would try selling on eBay. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into listing just one item.

I will now step down from my very used soap box.....Doug
Kidphone

Offline wds

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I'm confused.  Marie - why do you automatically assume that the Buyer is going to return the phone?  Did the Buyer say he was going to return it, or did you just not like the responses in this thread?

Unbeldi - where do you see bakelite damage?  I've looked at all the pictures and don't see the damage.

Dave

Offline TelePlay

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    • . . . the times they been a'changing
1)  anyone ever not spend too much for a phone?

2)  anyone every intentionally pay more for a phone just to get the phone?

3)  anyone ever buy a phone with noted damage knowing they already had the parts to restore the phone?

4)  anyone ever buy a phone for "display" only knowing the phone in it's original condition would not work on a POTS line?

5)  anyone ever but a phone with less pictures provided than this subject listing thereby leaving real questions?

6)  anyone ever let an item get away from them and wish they would have bid a few bucks more for it?

7)  anyone ever do any/all of the above and were still happy with their purchases?



With more than several different collector strategies, it's really hard to say if it was a good buy or not. The buyer thought so. The seller was upfront. The pictures showed a very clean phone with limited damage easily fixed. There are other similar phones for less but how similar is similar when they don't all come on eBay at the same time for a buyer comparison. Unless the seller's listing is dishonest and/or deceitful, a auction or BIN ends with a satisfied seller and a satisfied buyer as long as the phone is not damaged in shipment. Yes, everyone has different tastes, different levels of knowledge and different strategies for acquiring phones. When asking a question of good or bad deal, the member opens themselves up to good, bad or both news. Sometimes it's tough to take but it is a learning experience for all reading through the thread. All members can learn from the topic, in many ways. As long as the "help" is critical and not personal, it adds to everyone's knowledge in this hobby, or business. There is a topic on the forum asking who who got bit, the member or the bear. I don't think this phone falls into either of those scenarios. In reality, every phone purchased is not a steal. That said, other than the slightly high shipping (which is hoped would ensure excellent packing to prevent shipment damage) it's a nice phone that will shine up well and be a good addition to a display room for someone who likes AE phones.

Bottom line, we don't need to escalate this topic question into the personal realm.
            John . . .

              

unbeldi

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I'm confused.  Marie - why do you automatically assume that the Buyer is going to return the phone?  Did the Buyer say he was going to return it, or did you just not like the responses in this thread?
I am equally puzzled.  I didn't notice any disappointment by the buyer or even second thought.
The buyer's questions seem perfectly reasonable even if he is happy with the sale, and my questions were directed to either the seller or the buyer, which ever would be in a position to answer them, since I became aware that both are present.  So I don't understand the apparent defensiveness regarding the questions.

Quote
Unbeldi - where do you see bakelite damage?  I've looked at all the pictures and don't see the damage.
The damage that I referred to was on the handset parts.

Offline wds

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Now I see the damaged cap.  Totally missed it - I'm sure someone can supply the buyer with another cap for very cheap. 

Dave

Offline TelePlay

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I have handset caps for this phone, and cordage is not a problem.

Buyer saw the damaged cap before buying the phone and stated it not being a problem in his original topic post.
            John . . .

              

Offline KaiserFrazer67

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Hi everyone,

I'm sure I'll be satisfied with the phone.  As I said before, I have sets of transmitter caps already--the black ones that were on my AE 50, and a set of chrome-trimmed ones (which I'll be using) from Mark Treutelaar of OldPhoneShop.com.

I was 98% sure I knew what I was getting when I bought the phone.  The only purpose of the question was to take care of the other 2%.

I'm with TelePlay on this one.  Marie, not to worry--I'm sure I'll be very satisfied with my purchase.  There are plenty of straight-line ringers out there.  It's just a matter of from whom to buy one, and how much do I feel like paying for a replacement ringer.  They're usually in the $40-$50 range, and I've already spent way more than that on my AE 50 (probably upwards of an extra $100 or so, and I paid around $80 for it), and that had a straight-line ringer to begin with.  I honestly don't think I'll be spending nearly as much on this phone.

What sold me on the phone:

1)  It's all there, including the schematic;

2)  The original decal is completely intact; and

3)  The codes on the base and the schematic match.

If $20-$30 phones in this condition or better come up on eBay, I haven't seen them.  The only ones I have seen in that range are junkers that are going to need a LOT of replacement parts.  I'm still sure I got a good phone.  Not to worry, Marie; I won't be sending it back.  :)
-Tom from Oakfield, Wisconsin --  My CO CLLI & switch: OKFDWIXADS0--GTD-5 EAX

"Problems are merely opportunities in workclothes." -Henry J. Kaiser

Offline mariepr

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Thank you for replying back that all is well.  The title "good deal or am I missing something?" didn't sound encouraging especially when one offers that an item could have been had for $20-30.  I've taken chances as an only bidder and won some, lost some.  Lost: the beat up cheap 302 that should at least be good for a #5 dial...instead had a #6.  Won: bad photographs on a B1...had a 2HA dial. 

Offline KaiserFrazer67

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Thank you for replying back that all is well.  The title "good deal or am I missing something?" didn't sound encouraging especially when one offers that an item could have been had for $20-30.  I've taken chances as an only bidder and won some, lost some.  Lost: the beat up cheap 302 that should at least be good for a #5 dial...instead had a #6.  Won: bad photographs on a B1...had a 2HA dial.

Yeah, Marie, I could've worded that better...  The only reason for the question to begin with is that I thought it was an enormously good deal, considering some of the prices I've seen for phones in a LOT worse shape!  I honestly thought I'd have to fight for it, and thought that even my sniper bid of $110 (which is all that I could afford this week) still wouldn't have been enough.  I was actually very surprised by the fact that I was the lone bidder, to the point where I was a bit taken aback by it.  Perhaps I simply over-estimated the demand?  Maybe to some people AE 40s are as common as dirt, but not to me!  Which surprises me considering how many millions of WE 302s are still out there versus the princely sums people are getting for them...  To me, the WE 302 is the 1955-56-57 Chevy of vintage phones.  Everyone wants one, yet almost everyone in the hobby has one, they are as common as dirt (to me, anyway), yet they want a fortune for the dang things.  :P

Also please realize I didn't know you were a forum member, so I apologize for any alarm I caused.  :-[  It does my heart good to know that I bought it from a forum member, because in my opinion, if you've taken the time to join this forum, you actually care about what you're selling, and you're not going to be just another junk flipper on eBay that is only interested in making a buck and knows nothing about what they're actually selling.  People like that wouldn't spend the time and effort to participate in a forum for classic rotary phones.  I've dealt with too many people like that, both on eBay and in person (God I hate antique malls!!), and I have little patience for them.

To put some perspective on this:  My parents were older than the average parents when I was born in 1967; both grew up during the Great Depression and I learned a lot about the popular culture of the past from them, because they lived it.  Where other kids my age grew up hearing the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and other rock artists which their parents liked, mine weren't into that.  I grew up with Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Perry Como, Glenn Miller, Andy Williams, and all the rest.  Even Mitch Miller and the Gang...  ::)  I was the only kid in school who knew what a Kaiser car was, what a Studebaker or Packard or Marmon or any number of "orphan" cars were, who Fibber McGee and Molly, or Fred Allen, Tom Mix, Captain Midnight, or any other old-time radio personality were, not to mention a host of other old-timey pop culture gems of the past, because that's what Mom and Dad talked about with me.  Plus, and most importantly, my parents were antique collectors from before my birth, so I've been interested in old stuff since I was little.  That shaped my entire personality, and my tastes in pretty much everything to this day.  WW1 trench art was my dad's main interest, but we've had "Gone With the Wind" lamps, Tiffany-style slag lamps, Red Wing crocks, Depression/Elegant glass, old Winchester rifles, and other odds and ends, not to mention the occasional Kaiser car, so I grew up with a house full of old stuff.  I still have a fully operational cabinet-style Victrola which Mom and Dad bought at an estate auction down the street shortly after we moved to Oakfield in 1968. I think they paid $25 for it--it's still in perfect shape.  (They got a lot of this stuff back in the late 1950's/early 1960's when you could get it fairly cheap, especially here in the Upper Midwest.)  But...

...what frustrated me was the fact that these antiques were very beautiful, but with the exception of the Tiffany lamps, and maybe a few other items...  you couldn't actually use them on a day-to-day basis.  As I grew older, I decided to collect antiques and vintage items I could actually enjoy all the time rather than have them sit on the mantle or shelf and collect dust: antique/vintage outboard motors, old Bakelite radios, old Telechron clocks, old flashlights... but, for some reason, never telephones, at least until recently.  I did have my Grandma's old 1948 Western Electric 302 since she passed away in the late 1980's (which I used regularly), and a Leich 901B magneto phone which our old neighbor across the street gave to me about the same time, but I never even knew the model number of the WE, or even that the Leich was a Leich (despite the fact that it says "Leich" on the base!) until just a few months ago, when I decided to get interested in old phones.  Indeed, after I got our neighbor's Leich, I even installed the Leich's handset on the 302 for no other reason than "it looked cooler" with the vented spitcup as opposed to the stock F1 handset.  (I switched it back a couple months ago, when I decided to take up this hobby in earnest.)

Then about a month-and-a-half ago, I wound up dropping $230 on a Leich 901 because it had a dial and it was "plug-and-play" ready, and mine wasn't.  Same thing with a Kellogg Redbar in which I had a Rotatone installed--that one was around $300 with the Rotatone install. But--I wanted them right away, and I didn't know even that short of a time ago what I know now--that for a $10 adapter/gasket, a $25 dial, and a free downloaded wiring schematic (which, thanks to my tech school training, I can read), I could do the same thing to my existing Leich.  I see the prices some of the more well-known website sellers are asking, and many of them are non-original painted "Frankenphones"!  They wouldn't be asking those prices if they're not actually getting that kind of money for them.  I was almost going to drop $450 on a "plug-and-play" chromed-out AE 50 with Rotatone, until I realized "I can do this myself for less than that."  So I decided I'd better get educated about this stuff, joined this forum, and set out to learn everything I can about this hobby.  That's when I bought my first project phone, my AE 50 that I'm currently working on, because it finally sank in as to how the internet sellers are actually getting those kind of prices--from people like me who didn't know any better and wanted a working antique phone RIGHT NOW.

If you're familiar with PhoneCoInc, you know they sell a lot of "Frankenphones" and reproductions, especially payphones that are not original, but they have some original phones, and tons and tons of old phone parts.  Since it's only 3 hours from me, I made arrangements with the owner to visit the place on a Saturday.  She was quite happy to let me pick out my own parts; even invited me to come back out there during the week during their normal hours to "rummage to my heart's content" ( ;D ;D ;D !!!), so I bought a couple of AE dials to practice repairs on, both of them Type 24s.  I'm glad I did, because I found out getting them going again is not that difficult.  They were dirty and almost seized up when I got them.  Took the fingerwheels and porcelain number plates off, took them to work, washed them in the Safety-Kleen parts wash tank in the maintenance shop during my lunch break (which, in retrospect, probably wasn't the wisest way to clean them, but it worked), blew them out with an air nozzle, lubed them up when I got home according to the AE/GTE bulletins I found online, adjusted the governors accordingly, and they're good as new.  (Could've saved $45 plus shipping getting the 3 dials redone from the old family AE 80s and 90 which I still have after 49 years, but, water over the dam...)  I even installed one of the dials in the Leich I bought because I wasn't very fond of the Kellogg AE clone it came with; it works perfectly. 

The main thing is, once you take the initiative and get educated on this stuff, you can save a ton of money.  I probably spent way too much on even my AE 50 ($79.95 plus another $25 shipping from Nebraska, which is a good deal closer than New York) considering there was no schematic, no codes left on the back, and a SATT dial which I didn't even know what it was when I got it.  The reason I bought it was that it was in excellent cosmetic condition, and the decal on the top was complete, intact, and in good shape (meaning I didn't have to settle for the "one-type-fits-all" repros that the vintage phone suppliers are selling), so at the time I thought it was a good deal--especially when after receiving it, I hooked up a cord to it to find it was at least fully functional, if not perfectly so.  Was it worth it?  I wanted one trimmed out the way I wanted it, without having to pay a ridiculous amount of money, and even considering the amount I stuck in it afterward (the NOS Extensicord was about the most expensive piece), I still paid less than I would have for a nice plug-and-play from the two main online shops that start with "Oldphone"...  Yeah, it was worth it to me.  Anyone who says they paid $20 to $30 on eBay on a perfect phone, AE 40/50 or something of similar vintage, did it by pure dumb luck, not skill.  Now to be fair, that's just my opinion based on the experiences I've had in these past short two months, but still--I'm not convinced that sort of deal happens every day, or even every month, because I've been looking.  Right now to me, at this point, that's akin to winning the lottery.  Granted, many, if not most of the folks on here have a great many years on me as far as this hobby is concerned, but that's what the whole learning process is about.  Maybe in a few years I'll have the knowledge to make a different assessment.  That's the wonderful thing about this hobby:  you never stop learning, because there is so much to learn.  Anyone who looks at the thread I started on my AE 50 (http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=17743.0) can see from my posts that I learned quite a lot even in the short month that passed since I started it--thanks mostly to the kind folks on this very forum. God bless all of you for helping this newbie out. 

So I basically made a long-winded wall of text to say that, in my opinion as it is right now:

If a phone is complete, with no damage, or if the only damage is on a common, highly-replaceable part (like a handset cap), and
All the decals, codes, schematics, and everything else of that ilk is all original and all there, matching, and in good shape, and
Whatever is wrong with it is minor and easily fixable/replaceable (like rotted cordage, a sluggish dial, or a party-line ringer), and
It's a pretty desirable old phone from before the WE 500/AE 80 era, and
I paid less than $100 for it...  then as far as I'm concerned...

...I GOT A GOOD DEAL.

And all of those conditions were met in this purchase.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 06:55:45 AM by KaiserFrazer67 »
-Tom from Oakfield, Wisconsin --  My CO CLLI & switch: OKFDWIXADS0--GTD-5 EAX

"Problems are merely opportunities in workclothes." -Henry J. Kaiser