How to Evaluate Collectible Espresso Machines?

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drgary
Team HB

#1: Post by drgary »

Hello All:

As espresso hobbyists, we sometimes come across rare and unusual espresso equipment. It's a kick to have someone say to you, "I have another vintage machine," and then find something more affordable and way more interesting than a Cremina, though I wouldn't mind that either! I had that good fortune this week and will post photos as soon as I become the new owner of a very rare, vintage lever machine. (Hint: This one was produced by what later became a vending machine company. Add: Ducale, http://www.ducale.com/chi_siamo/GB_chi_siamo.asp, which now makes espresso vending machines.) Setting value and determining what's worth collecting are challenges in some cases, but in others like this the appeal is unmistakable.

Of course anything truly rare is likely to require custom parts for restoration or even servicing. Happily a newbie like me can find help and advice from experienced hands like Doug and Barb Garrott of Orphan Espresso http://www.orphanespresso.com/, Stefano Cremonesi of Stefano's Espresso Care http://www.espressocare.com/ and others who roll up their sleeves and post on heroic restoration projects.

Beauty, uniqueness, history, functionality, collectible condition and investment value -- if you can part with it -- are the obvious upsides. Great product design sometimes reaches the level of a true art form. And I just look forward to seeing if I can pull delectable shots, or have a fellow espressonista walk into my kitchen and say, "What is that? Wow, what a beautiful machine!"

So once again, I reach out to your collective knowledge and hope this thread will educate others too.

1. What are the markets for truly collectible espresso equipment?

2. What criteria distinguish a collectible from a throwaway? I have some ideas here. A worthy collectible might meet these criteria and a throwaway negate them: a) is it unusually historic, like an early prototype or early example of a popular design? b) are the designer or company that produced it noteworthy? c) is it of sound design, able to produce quality espresso? d) sheer beauty of design; e) is its design ingenious or innovative? f) is it truly rare? g) is it well preserved or faithfully restored? g) is there some unusual story connected with this particular item?

3. Are there widely accepted rating systems for collectible espresso machines or similar objects? If so, what are they?

4. How does one determine market value of an unusual or rare machine beyond offering such items for sale? I have some ideas about criteria here too, that one would compare selling prices of similar designs, rarity, or other criteria listed earlier.

5. What are the best venues, online and otherwise, for appraising and selling collectible espresso machines?

6. Are there different markets for vintage home machines and commercial ones?

7. Are there notable historians of espresso gear, and who are they -- or you?

I look forward to your comments!
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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peacecup

#2: Post by peacecup »

HB is certainly a good forum to find out info. about different types of machines. In general, I think the market more or less regulates itself. If one wishes to make a living buying and selling vintage machines it can be done, but to do it fairly and honestly takes a lot of time and effort (like OE). There are probably ways to cheat the system, but those who do probably don't last too long - it is a pity that some people might get hurt before they are exposed though.

In my experience some items just become collectible, and the prices rise. Cremina and Zassenhaus come to mind. Their reputations may or may not be justified, but there is enough fair information available on HB and other sites for buyers to make educated decisions. This wasn't always the case. For example, when I bought my first lever machine I needed to decide between a new Ponte Vecchio and a used Cremina (both around $400 at the time). I chose new because I wanted out-of-the-box functionality. i was lucky to find a few individuals here on HB and alt.coffee who had experience, but there wasn't much info.

Look forward to seeing other responses,
PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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drgary
Team HB

#3: Post by drgary »

Hi Jack,

I enjoy your posts here. I think you raised a good point when you wrote there are ways to cheat the system. What are some ways you or others would advise newcomers to collecting to beware? I can think of some obvious ones: don't send money in an unprotected way (i.e., without something like PayPal) to an unknown person who posts a picture. Don't buy something if it's pricey and you have no clue to its value, etc.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

realdoctor

#4: Post by realdoctor »

There are many wiser people than I on this topic, but I think that the problem of evaluating the worth of rare machines is very, very difficult. This is a general problem related to collecting anything that does not have widespread recognition as a collectible item. You are taking major guesses about the future value and appeal of things.

Espresso machines do not have anything equivalent to Hemmings (for cars), much less auctioneers such as Sotheby's. I know that I have seen and passed up machines in the last 5-10 years that have tripled in price since (Olympia is the obvious example). On the other hand, I could have bought a restorable XK120 Jaguar for about $5000 in 1980 and passed that up too.

I also have seen wild variance in prices paid for machines through ebay. Having said all this, it bears consideration that new machines sell for more than old. A new two-group Astoria Rapallo sells for more than most restored two-group Faema Urania models, or even something somewhat rare like a la Dorio. I think the only real expectation of making money is to take a bet on long-term appreciation in prices through rising demand and increasing scarcity, and expect to sell in 10-20 years. But don't forget the cost of capital that you have tied up in the machines.

Best,

Jim

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drgary
Team HB

#5: Post by drgary »

Thanks, Jim for your good information on the collectibles market. We agree that enjoying the machine is as important as any collectible value. So, I wonder what this is worth, as if I could ever part with her!

Image

I've posted more on about this wonderful Lady Duchessa on the lever gallery thread, here: Lever Espresso Machine Gallery
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

realdoctor

#6: Post by realdoctor »

Hi Gary,

I wouldn't part with her. If you decide to, you might see if Enrico Maltoni can give you a good lead on who might be interested in having it in a collection - assuming it is not immediately grabbed by somebody on h-b. I think it is one of the least common Faema models.

Jim

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drgary
Team HB

#7: Post by drgary »

She's a keeper! Please tell us more about the connection between Duchessa / Ducale and FAEMA. I'm now more interested in the human story about the early developers of these fine espresso machines. Also, how would I contact Enrico Maltoni?
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

Spiegelman

#8: Post by Spiegelman »

Beautiful machine.

Here is Maltoni's info:

Collezione Enrico Maltoni
Via Oberdan 13
47034 Forlimpopoli (FC) - Italy
t +39 347 4132 673
f +39 0543 743958
info@espressomadeinitaly.com
http://www.espressomadeinitaly.com
skype: enricocaffe

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drgary
Team HB

#9: Post by drgary »

I've contacted Mr. Maltoni, and he didn't know much about the Lady Duchessa. He suggested I contact Lucio Del Piccolo, whom he considers the foremost collector of home coffee makers. Lucio quickly responded and doesn't know much about the Lady Duchessa either, which suggests how rare it is! He graciously offered to write to the Ducale company that used to be Duchessa and try and learn more.

Lucio's wonderful web site that shows some of his collection is linked on the Orphan Espresso site. The way he puts it shows his devotion to collecting, "take a look at my blog, few lever machines, but full of beauty and love: http://caffettiere.blogspot.com/ ."
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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peacecup

#10: Post by peacecup »

Of course, everything has its price. Considering you can make equally good espresso (more or less) with a Ponte Vecchio Export or an Elektra, what is the point of keeping the Duchessa? Granted, there are subtle differences in design that might render one or the other more reliable, repeatable, etc. the main reason to keep it is purely aesthetic - it is an incredibly beautiful piece of craftmanship (I assume very functional as well). It's rarity does not make it more beautiful in my opinion, but of course it makes it more valuable.

So, do you want (or need) beauty or money? If you sell it you'll clearly never have another one. But perhaps red just ain't your color, and you'd be happier with an Elektra?

I've had similar questions myself with the far less valuable Caravel and MiniGaggia, and I have yet to be able to part with either. But, if I needed the little bit of money they would bring, I'd sell, and move on to the next beautiful lever when the occasion presented itself.

Peace,
PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."