Early Television Museum
How Much is My Old Set Worth?
We frequently get requests to estimate the value of old TV sets.
I have provided input to the Antique Trader Co. to produce a price guide, the Antique Trader Radio and Television Price Guide, which is available from Amazon.com, bn.com, etc. for about $14.
Though prices vary widely, here are some guidelines:
Mechanical Sets. Sets made by known manufacturers, such as the Western Visionette, are worth $6,000 or more. Baird Televisors sell for $12-20,000. Very rare sets can bring $20,000 or even more. Home made sets generally bring $2,000 or less.
Prewar Electronic Sets. More common sets, such as the RCA TRK-12, are generally worth $6,000 to about $8,000. The rarer the set, the higher the value. Less common sets, such as the GE HM-185, bring $10,000 and up. Very rare sets can be worth $20,000 or more. Obviously, cabinet condition is an important factor. A set in mint condition will bring twice as much as one in poor shape.
1940s Black and White Sets. Some rare sets, such as the Transvision kits and the Viewtone sell for $2,000 or so. Sets that are hard to find, such as the DuMont "Doghouse" RA-103 and the RCA 621 are worth $400-1,800 More common sets, such as those from 1949, are generally worth $150-200. Cabinet condition is important to the value, but whether the set is working or not does not matter much. Table model sets are preferred to floor models, because they take up less space, and shipping costs often exceed the value of the set.
1950s Black and White Sets. Most sets made after 1950 are not worth much. Consoles, because of their shipping cost and because they take up so much room to display, are worth even less. A typical set from the 50s might sell for $50 or so. Philco Predictas, DuMont Royal Sovereigns, and a few other sets are exceptions, and sell for several hundred dollars.
1960 and newer Black and White Sets. These sets are virtually worthless.
1953-54 Color Sets. Prototype color sets from before 1954 sell for $10,000 or more. The RCA CT-100, the most common 15 inch set, sells for around $3000 with a good CRT. Less common 15 inch sets, such as the Westinghouse, CBS, and Admiral, are worth more.
1955-65 Color Sets. The earliest 21 inch round sets, such as the RCA 21CT55 and CTC-4, are worth a $1,000-1500, while the 1956-57 model CTC-5 sells for a few hundred dollars. Newer sets are worth less, with a 1965 set typically selling for under $100.
1965 and newer Color Sets. Generally, these sets have almost no value, except for some of the early Japanese very small screen sets.
What is the best way to sell an old set? If you have a rare set, you can contact the Early Television Foundation and we will put you in touch with buyers who will be interested in it. You can also list the set on our classified page, or on the several on-line TV discussion groups. Ebay is also an excellent way to sell your set.