A few more words about my vintage Mac wishlist

With interspersed observations about selling old hardware

Setting things straight

Since I started this weblog back in 2008, it featured a page called My vintage Mac wishlist, where I list some selected vintage Apple hardware I’m after. I think it’s all quite self-explanatory, but the kind of feedback I received over the years, generated by that page, has been rather absurd and disappointing. I’ve asked myself many times what’s wrong with people.

Therefore, allow me to reiterate what’s written on that page, with an added explanation for those who need things to be spelled out for them:

Have you got an old Mac sitting around doing nothing useful for you except taking up space? If the philosophy of this humble weblog doesn’t convince you about the usefulness of vintage Macs, or you simply just don’t know what to do with it, you can consider sending it to me.

I’m not looking for any vintage Mac, though. I have limited space as well.

This means: Hey, if you have one of the Macs or other Apple-related hardware that’s present on my list and you want to get rid of it, I’m here, let’s talk about it. But only if it is on my list. I’m amazed at the amount of emails I’ve received from people who wanted me to have whatever they were throwing away, vintage or not; I’ve even received proposals to acquire non-Mac stuff. Wasn’t I clear enough in that page? Isn’t this whole weblog clear enough about where I come from and what I’m interested in?

If you have one of these things and would like to sell or donate them, contact me and we’ll talk about it.

You talk about donating old stuff and people cringe. Yes, I know exactly how much you paid for your Macintosh Plus back in the day. No, nobody is forcing you to part from it at gunpoint. You either want to sell it for five hundred dollars or keep it rotting in your basement? That’s fine with me, I’m not interested. But for the sake of all that’s dear to you, don’t write me patronising messages telling me I don’t have a clue about the value of these vintage Macs. Don’t waste your time and mine by writing me emails basically telling me, Yeah I have that Mac, and no I won’t give it to you for free because if you think I want to donate it to you, you’re out of your fucking mind. Don’t give me that attitude because a) it’s unnecessary, and b) it only shows you haven’t been paying attention.

Read those words again: …sell or donate them…

The ‘Sentimental Value Tax’

I’m open to purchasing vintage hardware from you. And always willing to pay shipping costs. The only thing I haven’t specified — but, alas, hoped it was clear enough — is that your price be reasonable. Many people tend to add what I call the “Sentimental Value Tax” when they sell their old hardware. I understand the sentiment, but in this context it is out of place. Why? Because you’re willing to part with the hardware in the first place. I own a lot of things which have deep sentimental value to me and that is precisely why I don’t sell them or give them away. Instead, much of the attitude I felt from people who contacted me, was along the lines of “your offer should be high enough to make me want to give my old Mac to you”. Sorry, but that doesn’t work for me.

With computers, you have to live with the fact that they decrease in value at a frightening pace. Especially if they feature patently obsolete technologies. For a Macintosh SE/30 (a Mac that was produced between 1989 to 1991) to sell for more than $100, for instance, it has to be in exceptional shape inside and out, it has to have a good CRT screen with no burn-in, it has to have a generous amount of RAM, or a rare PDS or video card attached. If it hasn’t got any of these features, don’t call me a disrespectful cheapskate when I ask for less in our negotiation.

You have to detach yourself from the poisoning mindset of “I paid this Mac $4,700 in 1995! I can’t let it go for $70 now!” — if you want to make money with used items, you should deal with antiques: jewellery, watches, furniture, pottery, etc. Things that retain their value or even increase in value over time.

So you’re a collector…

Some people have this idea about collectors in general: that they’re all rich, eccentric and gullible fellows, willing to pay whatever price to get their hands on what they’re looking for. Some of them might be like that, of course, even in the vintage Mac market, but from my experience they’re not in the majority. If you decide to contact me because you own an item in my vintage Mac wishlist, don’t assume I’m that kind of collector. I hate when people have stuff in their attics, left there to collect dust and rust, stuff that evidently has no value to them, stuff they won’t give a crap about, but that suddenly becomes ‘rare, precious, expensive’ only because I’m interested in it. I could in part excuse this attitude if I were the one to contact you first, begging you to give it to me.

Also, eBay is misleading if you base your asking price just by looking at a few random Mac-related auctions there. Don’t assume that a PowerBook Duo 230 can be priced at $400 only because some fool on eBay let himself be ripped off and paid that price for an auctioned item.

The mysteries of correspondence

Last but not least, I have to mention a kind of correspondent I’ve often encountered since I’m into vintage Mac hardware (see also The strange cases of vintage Apple hardware sellersPart 1 and Part 2). I’m talking about the disappearing correspondent. People who contact you out of the blue, proposing you a deal, or asking whether you’re interested in their items, and then do not follow up when you reply to them.

Guys, I’m as busy as you are. I may not reply to your email as soon as I receive it. But rest assured that I reply to all messages related to my vintage Mac wishlist. (Provided, of course, you’re willing to sell or donate some item that’s actually on such list). If you change your mind, if you found some other buyer, just tell me briefly and I’ll understand. I can’t translate your silence otherwise, and it invariably comes across as rude. If you’re not willing to deal with what you’ve started, don’t start it in the first place. It’s a time-saver for both of us.

International shipping

A final word on shipping. I’m not located in the United States. Some people are put off by the idea of shipping stuff internationally. Let me reassure you: I’ve never had a problem with packages sent to me via USPS. Even large and heavy packages (a Power Mac G4 Cube and a 22-inch Cinema Display, to give you an idea). It is, I think, the cheapest option; there are no hidden costs for the sender that I know of; items have always reached me in perfect shape and in a timely fashion. The only trouble I had in many years was caused by an incompetent postman at my end, so please don’t worry and don’t let international shipping compromise our deal.

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