Getting older and the Age old question; what to do with your collection
Having passed the three score years and ten threshold, every year is a bonus but I'm now very conscious that I really must not acquire any more toys and should really leave some suggestions for disposal were I to drop dead tomorrow. I also have nightmares about supporting a long standing friend's partner in disposal of his still growing mammoth collections.
I fully accept that only a small proportion of the younger generations are liable to take an interest in my junk that mostly relates to my obsession with the 1930s so it wouldn't surprise me if our house ended up with a sizeable load filling a skip or two outside. You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
Mod Note: The first two posts of this thread were split off from the following thread https://www.radios-tv.co.uk/community/general-tech-discussion/changing-face-of-vintage-electronics-collecting-repairing/#post-100590
I have been an executor a number of times and it’s difficult finding homes for many items. Some are just too far gone for anyone to want. I never had to dispose of any collections just normal items acquired through a lifetime. Only items I have skipped were ones no one would want and found homes or charities for other items.
I am in the process of dealing with something similar, not executor but next of kin. It’s a sad case with very little to dispose of. I thought the registration and funeral directors would be difficult not being able to go out but it was straightforward. All done on the phone, funeral next week, no mourners, memorial to held later this year.
It’s made be very conscious of not leaving too much work for my family.
No easy answer but for what its worth here's my take on it.
My collection got out of hand and although still relatively young (57) it worried me even before the Covid-19 focussed ones mind. Two things, worried most, what would happen to sets after I'm gone, my selfishness in burdening my family or friends with the problem. To see how bad it got you only have to look at this thread to see the scale.
My ongoing solution?
Appreciate most will have more manageable collections but I know there are some with the same and much more than me. My aim is to downsize from 50+ TV's to under a dozen. Ensure sets are sold or given to folk who will appreciate and give them safe secure homes, thus ensuring the sets avoid the repurposing brigade. Having already disposed of 20 and only stopped by the lockdown, I can categorically state it is a weight starting to be lifted in more ways than one.
If you think you've got a problem, if you think your collection is too large for one man/woman to sensibly get around to repairing, then it probably is. If you find yourself walking into your workshop or store looking in and muttering, "WTF was I thinking" and have not repaired any of them in more months/years than you care to admit, then you know you need to do something about it.
Once you see the faces of delighted folk taking away sets, and they crack on with the repair of them, it further reinforces you were just hoarding. Once your own pile becomes manageable you might like me, rediscover the joy of the hobby and find the repair bug once again.
Just my thoughts folks...each to their own.
I have been thinking about this for quite a while.
Almost all the gear i've got has come from ex repairmen who sadly today are no longer around.
Some of it would have even been skipped and lost to time forever if I had not got ahold of it!
I'd say up until a few years ago very few people my age had any sort of interest in vintage electronics.
The fantastic thing about collectors/restorers is that for deckades they have kept bits of the nations electrical engineering history (and many other aspects too) alive.
To see a bit of old electronic gear behind a glass box in a museum is one thing but to own and work on a example/see someone elses example yourself functioning or not is something else.
When you first see an old applience be it a radio, TV or something different come to life made in a time long before you existed it has a aura to it.
You can smell the thing warming up and its like the world around you could suddenly turn black and white.
Then it goes bang and the magic fades and you have to dig into it and see what's gone wrong.
The back comes off and with the insides exposed you can see that people back then weren't monkeying around.
What you are looking at is the work of thousands of the greatest minds of the time along with an army of workers and skilled craftmen's skills all condensed into a box sat on your desk.
You get greeted with a elaborate rats nest of wires mysterious bits and bob going to and from different valves, the casing etc.
Time goes by and you realize what's what and one day you follow a signal to a broken resistor or whatever, swap it out and as if by magic the thing you've spent so long working on comes back to life better than ever!
Going on a bit of a ramble here but what i'm getting at I suppose is you never really see any of this gear unless you are looking for it and even then a lot of it needs attention to get it in working order for regular use.
I recently showed a friend of mine a single-ended ekco radio with the volume whacked right up and he couldn't believe how good it sounded.
Guessed the audio output was around 100W!
In the past few years a lot of youtube channels have popped up showing vintage electronics & how to repair them and that has sparked a lot of interest in young people mending/getting ahold of vintage electronics.
What i'd suggest is to make videos on showcasing old electronics, talk about the problems they commonly develop and how to mend them. The more content there is the more people will appreciate them and want to get into electronics or if not at least give them a safe home where they can be kept until they reach the hands of someone who will attempt to bring them back to life.
If bits are going to end up in a skip find someone who sells on ebay/does clearences/auctions or whatever to clear them.
At least that way it will remain in circulation and you never know, it may inspire somebody else to give it a google and see what it is they have.
I faced up to this a few months ago and have now started reducing the collection, initially via the BVWS auctions - although they have come to a halt thanks to Covid-19. The bigger things like the radiograms will go via auction houses as they seem to do quite well there, and some pre-war EMI stuff seems to be quite sought after in Eastern Europe. The first stuff to go is the duplicate sets, of which there are many. Next will be the "why did I buy that?!" sets, and then many Grundig transistor radios will be sold. How many of the Satellits get kept will be another matter as I have almost a complete set of those. Some stuff I may just give away.
The big issue is that I have five storage units plus a garage and shed filled with radios, televisions and test equipment plus a lot of ephemera. I accept I will never get rid of all the storage units but if I can get it down to one I will be happy. That costs real money; friends have variously suggested I could buy a small terraced house "in need of modernisation" and use that to store the sets in, binning the rented units and when all the sets are gone, I have a property to renovate and sell. The intention is to retire at 58, when my final salary pension won't be too heavily discounted compared to taking it at 60 and not to work again, but another friend pointed out that just one day a month would pay the rental on all my units - but it wouldn't be worth keeping my company going just for that!
I am however some way away from making difficult decisions about what to dispose of (I have a core of 'under no circumstances will they go' items) but I decided I need to get some control over matters as it has been a contributing factor to my ongoing depression issues.
I have only recently re-spread into television equipment, previously having handled it but concentrated more on computers in recent years, with less "keep the old stuff going" and more "keep what we used to do possible" in that.
I am only looking at a fairly small collection - hence starting small with something I will, when I get it, really appreciate. Unfortunately it's stranded in Manchester at the moment but once it is safe to do so, it will be coming here, where it will be appreciated, maintained and on occasion used. My interests are mainly in Japanese and Scandinavian sets, but particularly innovative British ones, or any I once had, are also still of interest to me. Having only a relatively small abode and, short of maybe offering the odd set to my sister and family, very little room, I have to keep collecting under strict control. I'm 46, so have a few good years left, with a little luck. I intend to have a recipient in mind for my collection when the time comes for it to go.
"Yes, a bit of wet string may get you a good TV signal here on four channels, but you'll have to dry it out to get Channel 5!"