Disposing of collections of radios and electronic equipment.


As I have been a collector of this kind of thing for many years I regularly get enquiries about their value and what can be done with them so here are a few tips.

Please bear in mind that modern electrical safety requirements are much more stringent than they used to be. Any electrical item which has not been used for many years, and perhaps not stored in a favourable environment, should not be connected to mains power unless it has been checked for safety by someone who knows what they are doing. Though saying that, nothing really disastrous is going to happen if you put batteries into a transistor radio.

My first thought is what would the original owner liked to have done with it? Is it to be sold or given away, perhaps to a museum?  If the item is complete and in good working order I would normally suggest auctioning it on eBay.co.uk  as you will have a very large number of potential bidders. Bear in mind that large radios and radiograms often sell very cheaply if at all and that vintage electronic test equipment now superseded by technically superior modern equivalents is often worth very little. Don’t be fooled by the prices that people are asking; if you look at the completed items section you will see that many items remain unsold.

eBay can work well, if you have got the time to photograph, pack, work out delivery costs, answer questions (sometimes from people who never bid), parcel, post or arrange for courier this can take a lot of time. You can list the whole lot in one go, or at least large lots, collection only, this is easier but will considerably reduce what you get.

It can be a challenge if you don't have technical knowledge of the items you're selling. You might also consider the likes of Freegle, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor etc.

If the person was, or had ever been, a Member of the RSGB there is some advice here: https://rsgb.org/main/publications-archives/radcom/silent-keys/


There are organisations run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts such as BVWS and Radiophile who will help dispose of your collection by auction, knowing that they are going to good homes rather than speculators on sites such as eBay. BUT unless the radios are especially collectible the prices raised can be pitiful, primarily because the only bidders are those in the room, only a few of whom actually bid for anything but go along for interest and for the few non-auction sales tables for bits and bobs. Many sets sell (or are unsold) even at a fiver, which is no more than at a car boot sale.

It could be worth your while to approach a local auction house which caters to collectors of various kinds to have items valued and included in a specialist sale. If there are lots of items, they'll usually collect them for a price. They will photograph and describe each item and on the day of the auction many auctioneers invite online and phone bidders. This may be the simplest method of disposal but you will probably not realise the amount you might have expected after lotting fees, commission, VAT etc. have been deducted. For example for an item which sells for a hammer price of 15 you might get just over 10 but the buyer would have to pay double that as a premium of maybe 20% (plus VAT) would be added to the hammer price.

Other suggestions

 To sell stuff:

On The Air Ltd http://vintageradio.co.uk/htm/wanted.htm

Radiophile auctions https://radiophile.co.uk/auctions.php

BVWS auctions https://www.bvws.org.uk/auctions/

Gumtree auctions https://www.gumtree.com

eBay auctions https://www.ebay.co.uk

Facebook Marketplace https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/learn-more/

UK Vintage Radio https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=27


To give stuff away:

BVWS&T Museum https://bvwm.org.uk

Freegle https://www.ilovefreegle.org

Freecycle Network https://www.freecycle.org

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