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Thread: How to determine a rare items value

  1. #1
    Registered User Mark Levesque's Avatar
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    Question How to determine a rare items value

    Hi everyone. maybe some of you more savvy Ebayers can help me out.

    In 1997-1998 I was the artistic director/ emcee of a Jazz Guitar series. I have a PolyTone amp (the choice of many jazzmen from 70s-90s) that was brand new signed by Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Larry Coryell, Stochelo Rosenberg, John Abercrombie, Mundell Lowe, Bucky Pizzarelli, Sal Salvador, Frank Vignola, Howard Alden, Jimmy Bruno as well as posters from the series that had signatures by Charlie Byrd and Herb Ellis and the others previously mentioned. After all those signatures, I never used the amp again so it is like new.

    How would I determine what it is worth? Should I set a very high reserve on EBay or would you recommend another avenue?

    Thank you in advance,
    Mark
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    Historically signatures don't really amp up the value of musical instruments. If you've got the right audience maybe but signatures on mandolins really don't do anything for the value. I'd find out what the last ones sold for on eBay. Get the sold listings and look at the the green numbers. Don't go by what people are asking for it, go by what people have paid for them. Then set up an auction with a very high reserve. The final price when it's done will be what you can sell it for. Re-list at that price and it should sell.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    I think an auction might determine its value and I believe there could be some good interest. A store where I worked closed and we had a large collection of autographs from visiting celebrities when they visited our store. The collection included many A-list rock stars. Most were signed on our store stationery and some were on album covers. The collection was auctioned on eBay and I believe it brought $1700 or so. I would add that to the value of the amp and use that as a starting price, making sure the auction spans two weekends for maximum exposure. (if you list an item Thursday night with a 10-day auction, it will end Sunday night, and been seen two consecutive weekends, for example) Just my two cents, FWIW. You may also run a small ad on a Jazz website or Guitar website to increase visibility. Good luck!

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  6. #4

    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    You might want to check out reverb.com too, kind of a music/audio specific eBay. I've never sold on there, but I prefer shopping there over eBay for gear. Seller fees are 3.5%. NFI

    There are a variety of polytone amps for sale, might give you an idea of what to value yours at (at least without the signatures, hard to say what value those might add).

  7. #5
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    Skinner's has major musical instrument auctions on a regular basis. Since your item is a one-off it's hard to value, but an email to the auction house ought to elicit info of some sort, especially if they've handled similar items.

  8. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Historically signatures don't really amp up the value of musical instruments...
    Nice pun on the Polytone amp, Mike!

    On the subject, this is one of those "the right guy would pay a gazillion bucks for it, but try and find the right guy" situations. You might be better off trying to find a collector of jazz memorabilia, than looking for a musician or a musical instrument collector. The common first step is to list in on an auction site, with a really stiff reserve, and see what kind of response you get. Or take it to a guitar show in your area, or even to a vintage dealer, and see whether it draws interest.

    Don't assume that having a bunch of well-recognized signatures in Magic Marker on your amp confers greatly enhanced value. A musician would want to play through the Polytone, and probably wouldn't care if Charlie Christian signed it. A collector would value the provenance, but how much...?
    Allen Hopkins
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  10. #7
    Registered User clem's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    Hi Mark: It is a very cool thing...that is not worth very much (unless you get two bidders who "have to have it" at an auction). On the best day, PolyTone amps are not valuable or collectible (even though Joe Pass endorsed them...go figure?). Its solid state and not nearly is good as the new generation solid state amps that are on the market. Most of the people who would want those autographs are either (A) OLD or (B) jazz guitar geeks or (C) OLD jazz guitar geeks. The gear heads know what has already been said about autographs not adding value (unless you're talking Elvis Presley, the Beatles, certain Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan and for a few folks Prince or Petty or Cobain (Very small audience). The real question is how bad do you want/need to sell it? You will never get what it apparently seems to be worth to you. Sorry...just being straight and I've sold a TON of gear by every platform/means available, including autographed stuff. Good luck.

  11. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    I have a Polytone amp I think from the 1980s I think it is a Mini-Brute IV which I bought to use as a bass amp. I think the bass players liked it better than electric guitarists. I remember plugging in my Strat or Tele and not liking the sound but it was nice for bass.

    Not sure what real retail value is these days but my 2018 VG price Guide says $250-450 for all Polytone amps.
    Jim

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  12. #9
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    The Popularity of the person and Provanance that it was actually used by the person in question.. as well as the type of item being presented.. determines the value.. other than that its just a item the same as all others..

    Thats why I dont get caught up in signiture Guitars made by makers. They were never owned , Played and in most cases werent even any thing that was remotely close to what the had originally.

    I owned a Frank Gay Built Webb Pierce Guitar with the Webb Pierce name on the finger board. In every way a Guitar he would of owned.. but he did not play on any album or on stage.. guitars was at that point just a conversation piece.. I gave it to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to fill the void in that Webb Pierce Display.. cause it was worthless to any one else..

  13. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine a rare items value

    Post above makes a good point. Did any of the guitarists who signed the Polytone amp actually play through it in performance? Or was it just an "autograph book?"
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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