When you first join Ebay you really need to get some stuff sold quick so as to get a rating. An ideal way is to buy a cheap old box of shagged third-hand valves and individually list each one on Ebay. Make them really cheap, but don't worry the profit made on the post-and-packing will be far more than the valve is worth anyway. Don't forget you can always get a mate to bid on any that aren't selling, safe in the knowledge that the few pence it cost for the listing is nothing compared to the rewards once you get a reasonably large rating.

Good, so we've got ourselves some feeback, time to start shoveling the real crap. You will quickly learn that the saying "there's a fool born every minute" is quite incorrect ; Ebay _proves_ theres several hundred born every minute. So, get yourself to a vintage wireless auction and buy up all the 40's wooden sets for a couple of quid each, you'll have no problem finding a mug and, again, remember that if you don't make much on the set you can still make a bob or two on the post and packing.

Of course, you will attract the more afluant mug if you can spice up the description a bit. Night classes can help here - not an Internet-related course (of course :-) but try and find one on how to be an estate agent, whose skills at balancing the fine line between exageration and downright lies is second to none. You'll find some useful phrases in the glossary section too, but to stand out you really need to create your own, such as "Mint condition for year" or "was working well before it broke". But if you feel you really can't come up with something, then just go ahead and lie ; doesn't matter how stupid the lie provided you preceed it with the universal escape clause "believed to be ....".

As you gain experience you will learn how to attract the *really* afluent mugs. For this you need to find some old valve whose performance is way below anything produced even in the forties. Simply add an extra "0" or two on the end of the price, lable it "potential audio type" and watch the mugs beat a path to your door! Be careful not to do too much of a technical desription though (or at least avoid anything technical that is actually relevent), as the price is the only "technical" rating needed for audio work.

A word of caution is appropriate here though; no-one expects to get a bargain from someone who comes across as being professional so you need to try and come across as a rank amatuer who doesn't know what they are doing. So, for example, a title such as "NOS Mullard ECC82, yellow lettering with box anode and square getter" is a definate no-no, a far better title is "@@@@Look@@@@ ***Wow!*** Must See !!!!!!".

As you become a real expert why not have a bit of fun. "Guess my location" is damn funny, allowing you to set the Ebay location description as something really witty and original such as "My House" or "England". To make it even funnier, add "Buyer to collect" as part of the description. Or how about advertising an item somewhat vaguely and with but a single out-of-focus picture and then going off on holiday ? Don't forget to make the most of that fuzzy barely recognisable photo and add "sold as seen" to the description. And why restrict yourself to flogging your own stuff when you can simply steel a picture of something from a particularly sad web site and try and sell that ?

But life is about give and take. You've made your Ebay killing so why not give a little something back. A real wheeze is to find something fairly common and put a realy rediculous price on it, such as a typical 50's old telly for £140. It won't sell of course (or course???), but relist it a few times, it gives the people out there the opertunity of having a good laugh and may well help to kick start activity in some of those long-dormant newsgroups.


OK, you know the sellers mind now. Looks like your in for a bad time but fear not there's still some fun to be had. For example, try posing as a partially sighted person buying an item for a relatives birthday and ask could the seller possibly describe the Art Deco features - then publicly post their response so we can all share the laugh..

Buying can also be a sociable event. Get yer mates round (you do have some don't you), loosen up with a few beers and then play Ebay Chicken. Dunno the rules ? I'll explain. You each make a new Ebay identity and then see who can bid closest too, but just under, the reserve price of an item. Of course its no fun unless you can find something you just *know* will have a stupidly high reserve but you'll find plenty out there. The looser is the one who "spends" the most, which usually implies someone who probably does have more money than sense and hence they have to pay for the beers at the next weeks Ebay Chicken party.

Now we get to the real problem. You've found something you actually want. No, seriously. Well, you must leave your bidding to the very last minute so as not to fall foul of wally bidder (you know the type, they up the bid when they are outbid). Great stuff for practicing you speed typing skills too, and what's more you'll often forget completely and miss the item altogether, hence saving you some money with which you can save up and go to a proper radio event, buy the same items there far cheaper and so use the rest of the saved money in placating the partner (or a fine curry washed down with Scrumpy Jack if you are sad and lonely).

Just Window Shopping

You don't have to be a buyer or seller to get something out of Ebay. In fact you can save yourself a lot of time and money. We all know books are very expensive commodities and that with modern hectic lifestyles the time taken to read and take in technical books on electrical restoration is difficult to justify. So just read Ebay ! As you'll learn any radio fault is probably just a valve. Easy.


Art Deco Any item sold on Ebay
Retro Any item sold on Ebay by someone who couldn't spell "Art Deco".
Buyer to collect I've *got* to see the type of wally who'd buy this crap !
Suit enthusiast A wreck
Working A sound came out ; could have been a station but with pop music it is difficult to tell if it was music or just the usual mix of mains hum and electrolyte fizzle.
Not working I tried but the darn thing blew up.
Don't know if it works See 'not working'
Faulty - probably just a valve ... Yep, probably just a valve that fried when some crappy piece of friday-afternoon Hunts coupling cap tried to shovel several hundred volts up its grid. Just be thankful the mains transformer fried before any serious damage could happen.
1920's 1950's
1930's 1960's
Rare Seldom more than five of them on Ebay at any one time
Very Rare Seldom more than four of them on Ebay at any one time
Unique The only one I have ever seen in my house.
Highly Desireable ... if you are a seller that is, since its the kind of thing you can gaurentee some mug will buy.
I'm not an expert ... ... however even I can see this is a hopeless pile of shyte.

Heeeere, muggy muggy ... nice piece of old crap for you ... here muggy...

No reserve The starting price is more than barmey enough as it is.
Serious bidders only P*** off if you have a sense of humour.

Key Description Tips

In order to maximise the number of "hits" on your advert, here are a few words you should try and include.

Quad Audiophiles will wet 'em selves over this.

Brimar, Cossor etc. also manufactured good valves but they are generally cheaper and hence less desirable amongst the audiophile fraternity.

Bakelite Always worth including. From earlier discussions remember it is important to not appear too professional so make sure you look silly by using a suitable mis-spelling (ranging from "Bakalite" for mildly stupid through to "Bacolight" for my-parents-were-cousins).
Vintage ISTR that this term only applies to stuff over 50 years old ? Doesn't matter though, as an Ebay seller you aren't expected to be able to count.
Audio Type
Only applicable to valves really, but then *any* valve - even a thyratron - could be used in audio work. The fact that the resulting design might sound shyte isn't relevent.


Readers Letters Hi Duke ! I need to create an advertisment to shift five used Pinacle-badged PY88 telly boost diodes. Can you help ?
Duke Says *** WOW *** Look !!!!!!!!!!
RARE opertunity to acquire a QUAD of highly desirable 1920's Art Deco PY88 valves based on original design by MULLARD (who also manufactured the original PX4). I'm no expert but these are potential audio types. Unable to test so sold as seen, however winner receives additional valve free! Infidel ! Need to sell some weapons in a hurry. Can you help ?
Duke Says

***KABOOM****Killer stuff*****
Qty of assorted military-quality items. Latest Russian designs filled with assortment of potential audio-type Svetlana valves. Each unit includes a flexible internal Uranium-powered supply that can be configured to supply the valves for many millions of hours, or alteratively supply enough power for a Motorhead concert for several microseconds (extremely high-factor sun cream advised). UNABLE TO TEST SO SUPPLIED "AS-IS".

Accept US Dollars (cash), negotiable bonds or promise of protection (Syrian buyers only). I bought a number of Pinacle-branded PY88's in error. Can you help me ?
Duke Says

I may be good, but not that good ! Your best bet is to try and sell to someone else with similar mental problems. Perhaps something like :-

"PY88 with QUAD-sided rectangular anode and a getter. Uses same 6.5mm top cap as the MULLARD EL34 that is renowned for giving a superior colourful sound stage and dynamic mid-range presence."

Leave it at that but include maybe a dozen extra paragraphs in an extra-large and colourful font covering post and packaging, rules (e.g. who you will and won't sell to ; a min feedback rating of 100 adds exclusivity), comprehensive postage details, first few chapters of your autobiography, and as much distracting-but-seldom-read blurb as possible. I suggest a starting price of £50 with a £200 reserve. Include a photo but be sure to save it with minimal compression so that a potential buyer won't have the patience to see the whole image download ; you can help yourself here by making sure you choose a gaudy-coloured flashing font for the previous blurb.


Page copyright ©
dukeofnukem 2003
Last updated
28th July 2003