Nowadays, due to the rapid development of technology and electronics, old radio tubes are used less commonly.
This circumstance started in the early 1950s when transistors were created and applied widely in electronics. Since then, radio tubes were progressively supplanted and eventually stopped being made in the 1960s.
However, there is still the existence of a market where those radio tubes, especially vintage vacuum ones, are sold in a huge price range depending on the selling area, design, etc.
So, how much are old radio tubes worth?
Keep on reading and we will show you several factors affecting old radio tubes value. But, more importantly, we will give you details about three sorts of customers corresponding to common uses of old radio tubes these days.
- Internal Determinants of Old Radio Tubes Value
- External determinants of old radio tubes value
- Here are a Few Things You May Wonder About!
According to industry insiders, there are three factors affecting values of old radio tubes, which are form, condition, and usability.
For instance, the price of an RCA electron tube is approximately $15, whereas you need to spend $130 on a 1923 Westinghouse Aeriotron WD-11 if this vintage vacuum tube still functions or up to $400 on a 101D tube.
Nevertheless, if relying on these above factors, there is virtually no official guideline for the pricing of old radio tubes. Therefore, another way to identify their value is depending on some internal and external determinants.
Internal Determinants of Old Radio Tubes Value
Brand, form, and condition are the three internal characteristics influencing the value of vintage radio tubes. However, they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the pricing.
Before purchasing or selling radio tubes, you may want to consider the following rules.
- The price of NIB and NOS tubes is typically more than the same devices with no markings.
- The tubes with few suppliers will be able to sell at a higher price rate; e.g. The Tennis Ball tubes from Western Electric.
- It is easier to sell the tubes which have operability, as the ones that cannot function are only used for display.
- American tubes are more easily sold due to their quality and robustness.
- The tubes from Telefunken and Sylvania can be sold at double or triple the prices of other brands.
- Tubes having unique looks, such as a brass base or glass nub on the top, are usually sold to tube collectors who tend to spend more money to take them home.
External determinants of old radio tubes value
We believe that you have already heard this statement: “The products’ value is in the buyers’ eyes.” It is actually true in this matter since the price of vintage vacuum tubes value also varies because of buyers’ specific purposes.
Normally, there are many people with various intentions who come to a store for old radio tubes. Below are the main three groups of buyers that represent three typical popular uses of old radio tubes currently:
- Radio collectors or restorers who look for tubes to revive vintage radio.
- Musicians or audiophiles who are interested in the classic warm sound or vinyl played through tube stereos.
- Tube collectors who want to collect the most desirable vacuum tubes.
1. Tubes for radio collectors or restorers
This type of customer usually seeks vacuum tubes to restore the vintage radio. They mainly focus on the operability of the tubes and always consider whether the price is suitable for the product or not.
The list below includes few common vintage radio tubes for this customer group:
|LIST OF VALUABLE VACUUM TUBES
FOR RADIO COLLECTORS OR RESTORERS
|Tube 01A, or 201A and 301A
(depending on the manufacturer)
|$10 – $15|
|Tube 6AQ5||Around $10|
|The 1938 Philips Elephant-foot tubes||Around $30|
|Tube WD-12||$30 – $50|
|Tube 45||$50 – $70|
|Tube WD-11||$50 – $135|
|Tube 245||Above $100|
|Tube 50||Above $200|
|Tube 250||$250 – $350|
2. Tubes for musicians or audiophiles
This is a huge and potential customer segment for newer tubes used in antique music amplifiers and old tube stereo equipment.
This type of buyer loves old radio tubes as they can produce second-order harmonics, which are at twice the normal frequency. Also, they are regarded to be an important component of old amplifiers & stereos.
The more difference in the sounds of a variety of types and producers, the more money customers need to spend for owning a proper radio tube. Let’s check it out in the list below.
|LIST OF VALUABLE VACUUM TUBES
FOR MUSICIANS OR AUDIOPHILES
|Made in America|
|Tube 12AX7||$8 – $15|
|Tube 6L6||$15 – $25|
|Made by Western Electric|
|Tube 274B||Above $200|
|Tube 349A||Above $400|
|Tube 300B||Above $500|
|Tube 45||$25 or more|
|Tube 2A3||$50 or more|
|Tube 50||$200 or more|
3. Tubes for vacuum-tube-enthusiastic collectors
This is the group being identified as the most willing-to-pay segment among the three. They always hunt for the very old kinds or any uncommon designs, particularly those from the Vacuum Tubes Inc.
Moreover, some vintage vacuum tubes are so valuable that collectors are willing to buy a radio just for stripping them out. Find out the valuable vacuum tubes below.
|LIST OF VALUABLE VACUUM TUBES FOR TUBE COLLECTORS|
|Western Electric’s Tennis Ball|
|Tube VT-2/205A||Above $150|
|Tube VT1||Above $200|
|Tube 205D||Above $300|
|Tube 101D||Above $400|
Here are a Few Things You May Wonder About!
1. What things about the old vacuum tube do you need to note?
Filaments in vacuum tubes include hazardous substances such as heavy metals. Thus, if you think of putting vacuum tubes in the trash the same way you do with household garbage, you should stop now.
When they cannot function anymore, vacuum tubes need a destruction procedure to make sure these harmful elements are under control.
2. Where can you find vintage radio tubes?
As the market of old radio tubes still exists in the modern world, you can look for them both offline and online.
Firstly, for offline sources, you can come to machine stores selling vintage electrical equipment or calibrating testing instruments and gauges.
Secondly, for online sources, you can search for them on numerous e-commerce platforms and websites where sellers upload their products.
Tip for you: If you buy vacuum tubes from individual sellers, you can ask for a discount. Don’t be afraid to own your favorite vacuum tubes but still satisfy your wallet!
It is hard for us to give you the exact answer to the question “how much are old radio tubes worth?”
Still, we have provided to you many factors that directly affect vintage vacuum tubes value, including some internal determinants such as the brand, form, and condition of the tube.
There are also some external ones that have three customer groups with different purposes in buying tubes.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Are there other things you would like to add? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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Robert is our content writer. He has in-depth knowledge about two-way radio communication, including mobile, handheld, and base, as well as ham radio satellite and emergency communication. He is in charge of researching and reviewing the best and latest products as well as gathering information about your queries and issues in using ham radios.