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So we sold our house and are gearing up to move into our new digs. We've lived in our current pad for 12 years and I can't believe how much stuff I've gathered up. I have items in my garage that I bought at garage sales when I was 7 years old - specifically some ammo cans dated 1972. I will keep them and recently thought about integrating them into a custom trunk storage rig. About every 5 years I open them to remind myself of what the heck I'm storing in them - mostly obscure bolts. Then I come across my vacuum tube collection. Most of which came from a fella who passed away years ago who gave them to my Dad cause he knew he had a son (me) who liked to fix up old radios. I never met this guy but my Dad always talked highly of him. He had a complete inventory book that came with the tube collection along with a military issue tube cross reference manual dated 1959.

So I figure it's time to sell the vacuum tubes. I can keep a few as backups for my art deco radio collection and sell the remaining 200. So one of the nights when you wake up at 2a.m. (like tonight) I decide to search the local craigslist for potential buyers. I just type in vacuum tubes and sure enough 1 ad pops up from a fella who is interested in buying them. I send him an email and the next morning he responds and follows up with a call. We have a nice conversation and make plans to meet at my house later in the week. A few days later a large (currently about 25K acre) forest fire erupts near his home. He sends me an email that evacuation looks eminent. A couple days later he calls and says his wife and 3 dogs are in a motel and that he still is interested in the tubes. 3 days later we talk again - all is well. 18 homes we're lost but he was fortunate and would be returning.. So we'll meet this wknd so he can see the tubes. I have no idea what they're worth and I honestly don't care but have this strong feeling that he will pay me a reasonable price and they will be in the ideal place.

What's the point of this? So every now and then I come across someone who is into old radios and of course the vacuum tubes that go in them and I don't know if it's just me, but I have noticed that generally speaking, people who are into vacuum tubes are typically some pretty cool cats. I can't wait to meet this guy and listen to his stories. I was telling my daughter about this at dinner and shortly after I opened the topic I realized I had to explain what a vacuum tube was cause she had no concept. I grabbed one and explained how they were later replaced with transistors and then microchips and such. It was a neat progression to explain to someone who had never seen a transistor let alone a vac tube. So have ya'll noticed that people who are interested in vacuum tubes are more often than not some of the most interesting and dynamic people out there? I can't wait to meet this guy.
 

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Vacuum tubes are similar to baseball cards in that most of them have little value. But just like baseball cards, a single tube can bring hundreds if it's the right value.

Most tubes for vintage radios have limited value as there are still millions of them around and they don't degrade with age. Tubes used in HiFi equipment generally has much more value. For instance, if you have any 300Bs in that collection they are worth a lot of money. Any tube made by Western Electric are worth huge bucks. 12AX7s are common enough but if you have any by Telefunken, audiophools will pay stupid money for them. Most TV tubes are worth less than radio tubes, although the power tubes like the horizontal outputs bring good money.

Best thing to do is do a quick search on them and get an idea.

John
 

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Pretty cool. When I was growing up in the 60's just about everyone had a few at home. All the department stores would had a tube tester. I had a GE tube tester and manual that one of my dad's friend from work gave me. I still have a couple kicking around for a couple of old radios we have.

My grandfather worked at the Western Electric tube factory in NYC for the war effort. There was a fire in the plant, he went back in to turn the gas off saving a lot of people's lives. He died about a week later from being severely burned in the hospital about a week later.
 

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When I was a kid in the 60's I remember that convenience stores (we called them "drive-in grocery stores" ) had the tube testers. There were a lot of sockets on the tester for the different bases on the tubes. When the TV quit working we had to pull all of tubes out and take them down and test them until we found the bad one. In a cabinet under the tester were all of the new tubes.
The tester looked like this:

Kalibr L3 3 Russian Made Vintage Vacuum Tube Tester New Stock with EXTRAS | eBay

And it sat on top of a cabinet full of new tubes like this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/rca-tv-tube-case-Vacuum-Radio-Repairman-w-tester-124-tubes-included-more/221711515327?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid=111001&algo=REC.SEED&ao=1&asc=36866&meid=e697cad75d1842a2a9118942d0c12b4e&pid=100033&rk=2&rkt=8&sd=272177016500
http://www.ebay.com/itm/rca-tv-tube-case-Vacuum-Radio-Repairman-w-tester-124-tubes-included-more/221711515327?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D36866%26meid%3D0fcc92c502c240e1989892733fd289e4%26pid%3D100033%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D272177016500
 

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Ah vacuum tubes. The 50s was an exciting period to grow up. 50s cars, muscle cars and no look alike styling. Passenger planes transitioning from props to jets. Computers analog to digital.
Electronics from tubes to solid state (transistors). Music monaural to stereo.

The family TV living room size could be as large as 19" diagonal. Typically had around 19 tubes. When the TV misbehaved we'd remove the back and pull the tubes and head over to the drug store tube tester. If a common tube was bad the tester had a locked lower cabinet with supply of tubes. For critical testing go to Allied Radio or other electronics store and use a professional tube tester. If that didn't solve the problem with tube swapping ot was call the TV repairman. Sometimes the TV went to the shop for a few days.

Until the late 50s car radios were tubes. Those that took circuits classes back the recall tubes
were/are AC transistors DC. Tube car radios and portable radios had a circuit to convert the DC power source to the AC circuits. There was a can that buzzed, a vibrator. When you turned it on it typically took a while to warm up and you could hear it buzz.

IIRC in the 50s a 16" table model TV (black and white) was about $200. That would be close to $2000 today.


I know, blah, blah, blah
Slim
 

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wish we werent 3000 miles away

i can use some good vintage USA tubes for my guitar amps

generally
6L6
EL34
12AX7

and all the variations in between

funny story. When i was in the Navy back in the early 80s we changed over to "electronic" warfare equitpment and i was on duty that night and was ordered to clean house. I must i dropped 200 boxes of new military grade tubes from the 50s and 60s into the drink. i didnt know any better back then. I could have took as many as i wanted.

i would have been a rich man today and had the best sounding amps in town
 

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As I recall stereo amps had matching push pull output tubes. IIRC the best were Mullard that were made in England. The very common Williamson design tube strero amp was 20 watts output.
 

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As I recall stereo amps had matching push pull output tubes. IIRC the best were Mullard that were made in England. The very common Williamson design tube strero amp was 20 watts output.
Mullard tubes are highly regarded (particularly the rectifiers) but otherwise American beam power and pentodes are still considered the best followed by the (then) West German tubes.

My dad built a Williamson mono amplifier kit hifi in the early 50s I believe and I remember my aunts still talking about the amazing sound of that amplifier.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Vacuum tubes are similar to baseball cards in that most of them have little value. But just like baseball cards, a single tube can bring hundreds if it's the right value.

Most tubes for vintage radios have limited value as there are still millions of them around and they don't degrade with age. Tubes used in HiFi equipment generally has much more value. For instance, if you have any 300Bs in that collection they are worth a lot of money. Any tube made by Western Electric are worth huge bucks. 12AX7s are common enough but if you have any by Telefunken, audiophools will pay stupid money for them. Most TV tubes are worth less than radio tubes, although the power tubes like the horizontal outputs bring good money.

Best thing to do is do a quick search on them and get an idea.

John
All good to know - thanks John. Sounds like worth doing a little research before we meet and talk price this wknd. I had quite a baseball card collection and most of all wish I still had the Ty Cobb baseball card my Grandpa gave to me that I gave to a friend as a present when I was 13.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
wish we werent 3000 miles away

i can use some good vintage USA tubes for my guitar amps

generally
6L6
EL34
12AX7

and all the variations in between

funny story. When i was in the Navy back in the early 80s we changed over to "electronic" warfare equitpment and i was on duty that night and was ordered to clean house. I must i dropped 200 boxes of new military grade tubes from the 50s and 60s into the drink. i didnt know any better back then. I could have took as many as i wanted.

i would have been a rich man today and had the best sounding amps in town
As a fellow guitarist and one who prefers vintage tube amps, I hear you loud and clear. I did check for those specific tubes already but unfortunately don't have any in this collection.
 

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But NOS and ANOS (almost new old stock) tubes for guitar amps are commanding a premium of $100 and up for power tubes.
Yes, but I followed up with this:

But just like baseball cards, a single tube can bring hundreds if it's the right number.
and this:

Tubes used in HiFi equipment generally have much more value.
I have several thousand vacuum tubes saved from when when we were in the business, and many more given to me when others left the business. And like baseball cards, most of them are worth a buck or two tops assuming you can find someone who actually wants them; certainly not worth the trouble to list and sell and ebay.

I do have some beam power, power pentodes, and rectifiers for HiFi usage (guitar amps use mostly the same tubes) and those are worth pretty good money.

And for what it's worth, some guitar amp owners are as bad as audiophools when it comes to "magic tubes". The Russians make pretty good audio tubes these days both power and signal. I restored an old Scott integrated amp (299D I think) to sell and pulled all the original Scott labelled tubes that had the Telefunken diamond on the bottom and got over two hundred for a handful of used tubes. I retubed using Sovtek and EH tubes and it sounded just as good as it did with the magic Telefunken signal tubes.

John
 

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Notice a couple times hi-fi has been used in this thread. Before popularity of stereo, surround sound, sub woofers and power contests there was high fidelity.

Components like amp, pre amp, am tuner, fm tuner, speaker (enclosure with speakers, crossovers etc.), record player, cartridge had listed specifications. Dynamic range, distortion and frequency response especially at rated power. In the 60s-70s serious stereos were hi fi stereo. FM stations carried symphony, big band and jazz. Disc jockeys were on AM.

Ironically the 80s had the CD revolution. Suddenly incredible dynamic range, no distortion from the media and great frequency response. Most of the market was mostly interested sound loudness! By the 90s neighborhood jarring sub woofers were the thing!

Does it really matter today if a sound system is truly high fidelity? It's an accurate reproduction of what, and who cares? A few golden ears do.
 
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