VCF East 2023 – Consignment
The VCF consignment shop was two modest sized rooms. As mentioned, the VCF East event had more than double the number of expected visitors – so the volunteer staff was very stressed to keep up with everything (such as coordinating what line was for what, where sellers vs buyers should go, security, helping buyers to contact sellers, etc). So the Saturday morning of consignment was a bit like a Black Friday sale, with waiting lines out the door (and across the street) and an intense crowd even prior to opening. They stuck to the fair “ground rules” of not opening until 9am, first-come-first-serve, and everything sold as-is.
As usually in these things, some items were “underpriced” while some are “overpriced.” But it’s a Bazaar except that haggling requires some patience and a phone call. For example, many sellers often had “more to include” with the system (such as manuals or extra parts), if the buyer bothered to contact them. But the chaos of that morning made that somewhat impractical (some sellers were exhibitors, or in presentation talks, or even the overly-full-parking made it impractical for local sellers to get to the area quickly).
In the images below is a sample of some of the offerings, grouped into a few categories. There were many other things offered, both large and small, but this gives a general idea on the variety of things that were offered. Note, I won’t be mentioning prices because they changed day to day anyway.
And for context, 15% of the sold price goes to maintaining the museum (electricity, water, property tax, repairing damaged fences, clean restrooms, and maintain the exhibits). Paying a little extra for an item is not at all a bad thing.
NOTE: This is just a small sample of some highlights. There were many other offerings, like a complete Commodore PET 2001 with chicklet keyboard, about a dozen laptops (from 10-20 years old, all working condition), disk drives, monitors, “tower” desktop computers (20-30 years old), etc.
Like cars, the word “antique” is typically 20+ years old equipment while “vintage” might be 40+ years. Those are just rough guidelines, there is no real hard rule about it (although for cars, some areas may have a defined criterion for purposes of legal registration). But things just 5-10 years can also be found here.
For me, I got one of the 2012 MacBooks (now a little over 10 years old). In the process I learned there is a difference between MagSafe1 vs MagSafe2 that transitioned right in that year of 2012/2013. I contacted the seller later when things had calmed down on Sunday, who helped me swap out for the correct charger — I needed the older white-tipped one instead of the wider silver-tipped one.
I also picked up a set of PC100 memory for a few bucks, to use in some old mid-1990s laptops back at home.
CATEGORY 1a: Some systems that need TLC (tender loving care). Like rusted metal, it may look bad, but there is a process for cleaning these things back up to look new again.
- OSBORNE Executives
- Tandy 2000 (still has the TRS-80 badge)
- Tandy Color Computer 2 (there was another one that was New in the Box, but it was on a top shelf which I noticed was a disadvantage as many folks focused on the lower shelves)
- Tandy Model 4P
- Aple III
- TeleVideo 910
- HP8225A plotter
CATEGORY 1b: Some clean systems. In general, an item worked unless marked as “for parts” or known to not be working. I heard some people making comments like “that price is so low, it must be broken.” Living and storage space is always getting more expensive, so many folks here just need to empty out space as their life situation changes over time (and a goal of vintage computing is to pass on knowledge of these systems to the next generation of collectors, to become a verifiable artifact to this history).
- Apple PowerBook 100 (c. 1991)
- Tandy 102 portable (c. 1985)
- GRID “386” laptop
- TRS-80 Model 1 (c. 1978)
- Tandy Color Computer 2 (with sound pak, c. 1983)
- IBM 5155 portable (c. 1985)
NOTE: There were a couple IBM portables (one fairly clean, another not so clean). I never had seen the back of one, so I wasn’t sure how it was carried like a portable. And so, it was interesting (to me) to learn about the fold down bar it has — which is a different approach than, say, the OSBORNE-1 portable. Stuff like that is why it is neat for people just bring vintage items and let them be seen.
CATEGORY 2: Electronic kits. Radio Shack used to sell kits like these, looks like there were a variety of other brands. Instead of handing out Chromebooks, I’ve wondered what if we required students to literally build their own computer first? Would that help them better appreciate the system, of how software operates, or how peripherals are actually connected? (of course, we don’t really “build computers” but rather assemble a set of component parts – that distinction being a major paradigm shift starting with the “Computer Lib movement” of around 1974).
CATEGORY 3: Some “weird” and usual items.
The particular examples below are vacuum tubes and HP paper tape. There were a box of smaller and larger tubes, which can be useful for repairing certain old devices (which will soon wear out again as that was the issue with vacuum tubes — people spent more time repairing computers than actually using them).
Other “weird” items (not shown) would be things like books or obscure video or data cables. So it’s bit like a garage sale, you never know what you’ll find.
CATEGORY 4: Very rare or high-interest items.
I will mention some prices here. I’m not too familiar with Amigas, but this Amiga 4000 tower with several boxes of accessories was ~$3000. The Apple Lisa in fair condition was listed $5000. The mid 1970s IBM and HP equipment were both listed over $1500.
The consignment shop was also the place to buy event T-shirts. I think a kind of “lesson learned” is that some T-shirts should also have been offered near the entrance, making it easier for the general public that was attending the event to get these (but might not necessarily be interested in buying vintage equipment and not aware that these were available).
AMIGA 4000 (with “two boxes” of accessories)
APPLE LISA (surrounded by VCF t-shirts)
IBM 5120 (with printer, disks, lots of documentation)
HP9825A (also with cartridges and a box full of accessories)