Valves as an investment?


2008-07-31 12:57 pm
Hi Diyers, A question for the learned valve/tube people, my sister in law recently inherited her fathers valve collection, about 1000+ in total, he used to be the repair guy for a local and now non existent hi fi shop and also the comms and measurement repair guy for the state power company, my question is it worth keeping these valves as an investment to sell later on in 20-30 years or so or sell now, amongst the collection are 16 x GEC KT66, 7 x 6550, 9x 807, 11 x 6F6, 20 x EL360, 4 x type 42, 2 x E288CC and lots more either NOS and second hand, so sell now or keep and sell later?
Thanks, Arthur
PS all the above valves have been tested by the local valve guru using an AVO163 and test ok
This requires a crystal ball. Other things being equal, high quality items from the past which are no longer being made will tend to rise in value with age. However, the value of something is simply what someone is prepared to pay for it. If a new generation of people give up on all forms of DIY, including electronics, or just want to assemble kits using the latest technology then the valves become worthless.

There is certainly evidence in the Uk that youngsters don't want to do DIY; when a 30-something wants to put up a shelf in his new house he is likely to ask his dad to do it for him.


Paid Member
2014-03-01 11:53 pm
quick google suggests new in box GEC KT66s can go for up to $350 each, which is 10x the other in production variants, so guess you are right. If new and if you can make matched pairs should be a nice earner. still no idea if the price will rise further.


Paid Member
Sell now, who knows what will be going on 30yrs hence, not to mention that I have also observed that most diyers here these days are north of 40yrs old.. It does not seem like continuing demand is a given in the future. Changing socio-economic conditions and climate change may change the face of this hobby substantially in the coming decades.
Sell now. You can't deny the prices are absurdly high right now, don't let the current opportunity slip. Just hope they didn't leak and still test good now. Take the money and make safer investments with better guaranteed returns. Prices are high not because demand is high, but because demand is so low that nobody is meeting the constantly-shrinking residual demand. Sell now, in an international marketplace that includes Japan.

I have a few thousand vacuum tubes, most of them new. Some are probably worth some real money, some not so much.

The land/building I keep them in is an investment - a really good one, as time has played out. The tubes are a few thousands of dollars at best, and somewhat of a PITA - I have the best ones spread over three locations to minimize the risk of loss, because what insurance company is going to give you fair value for destroyed NOS tubes?

It's not just the risk that in ten or twenty or thirty years no one will give a rat's rear end about old tubes and DIY, it's also the risk of them going to air, dropped and broken, lost, etc. Around here in tornado alley, a building can be here one minute and blown to smithereens the next.

I should probably take my advice and sell all but a few caddies of mine. I still have the ridiculous fantasy I'll get around to using them all.



2015-12-15 4:43 am
I'd hold on to them, all of the receivers, and turntables that I've hoarded over the years are making me a lot of money right now. You just need to find the right time.

I'm selling stuff I paid 5-10 bucks for at garage sales, and thrift stores for $500+, and I don't even sell on eBay.

I bought most of them just because I like cleaning them up, and bringing them back to life. I couldn't give away anything except for the Marantzs, and the super high end Pioneers a few years ago. It was just a cheap hobby to me.

I just sold a pair of Citation 12s to a guy for $900, and they were beat to hell. They played good though.


Paid Member
2004-06-06 8:31 pm
Georgetown, On
Well, I'd sell those tubes now. They are at a high, maybe go higher but the bottom could easily drop out of the market too.

Many currently manufactured tubes are every bit as good as the old ones, and often better, and the consistency from tube to tube is a lot better today. I would love for someone to give me market value for all my NOS tubes and I would very happily buy currently manufactured ones. That would be all gains for me, no loss at all.

I have dealt with tube products in service since the 70's, and since the 60's as a kid playing with high voltage. :) The tubes I buy now are wonderfully better than the ones I could get back when they still made them for the most part. I'm talking about new-in-box tubes from yesteryear. I have pulls too, just 'cause they are good for testing in service units.

I will say that there is some junk being made too. But I can't support your claim as a blanket statement.

I agree with the recommendation to sell.

Chris, Not sure where you got your tubes then or where you get them now, but the experience you describe is almost the complete reverse of what I have experienced over the past 3 decades.

I can't imagine the quality of Canadian tubes differed that significantly from tubes made here or in Europe, and the few Canadian made tubes I have purchased NOS have all been excellent quality.

The very end of the era here quality suffered greatly, but in general I have not have the problems with consistency, life and initial defects with good NOS tubes that I encounter with alarming regularity with current production tubes.


Paid Member
2004-06-06 8:31 pm
Georgetown, On
Hi Kevin,
Dealing with a well known supplier of tubes and transmitting tubes, I began to get remarks and tubes that were noisy, all kinds of horrors that a service person can't have. Same for a manufacturer, but the sales volume usually means they get the good stuff.

What I buy now is usually from Mike at New Sensor. I really like the Electroharmonix branded tubes. So far from the start, I have got exactly one noisy 12AX7EH and one 6L6EH had the wrong tube in the box. Everything else I have bought has been perfect. I even have people who want to save money buy those tubes and have them drop shipped to me. I don't have to worry about quality or red plates (in Fenders usually).

Most of my NOS stuff I like is from RCA, GE, CGE and Raytheon. Pretty much blue chip manufacturers. The old Rogers tubes are also really good and I have some Hitachi that are also very good.

As my rather wealthy uncle told me … when I was a kid (asking a similar question):

“Boy, {fill in} are easy to buy, but hard to sell. Even in 25 years when they're rare, they'll still be hard to sell. If you're hoping to make a killing in 50 years, your crystal ball has be to better than Santa Claus's and you have get lucky avoiding death. Now, if you want to make this your life's hobby… that's one thing. But otherwise, consider yourself forewarned.”

I think he was right.
His hobby was collecting uncommon coins.
And just as he foretold, they were really hard to sell and get close to market value from.



2003-02-17 7:38 pm
buy a low expense broad stock index fund for a 30 yr investment horizon

balanced funds, bonds, diversification in general really are only for reducing shorter time scale volatility - so far stocks have outran the rest at decades time scale

Sell and buy some long-term bonds or annuities (assuming your 30-year investment horizon is the same for cash as for tubes).

annuities are only a good idea for the issuer unless you really, really need the certainty - and the provider can still go broke