How to best sell a HP pocket calculator

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This guide is the result of years of experience in buying actively Hewlett-Packard vintage calculators on eBay. It concerns only pocket calculators and some peripherals, when they are available. It is made for everyone who is looking for selling a HP calculator on eBay.

Because vintage HP calculators are collectible and valuable assets today, the better your description is, the more money you can get for it. Don’t listen at people who will try to convince you to conclude the transaction before the end of the auction for a couple of dollars by proposing you a quick ‘buy it now’ transaction, most of the time, you will obtain more at the end of the auction than the proposed amount. If you want to have an idea of market prices, you can visit my ‘HP vintage pocket calculator’s 2006 buyer’s guide’, the famous HP Museum web site or recent terminated auctions related to the same model you have.


Your auction ad will have to be legible, structured and to propose, for the HP calculator model you put for sale, following sections:

  • The history,
  • the technical specifications,
  • a cosmetic and working condition description,
  • a list of what is included in the auction,
  • your auction terms,
  • your payment conditions,
  • your shipping & handling conditions,
  • your eventual warranty conditions.

The 'History' section

You can describe in this part some historical information about the calculator you are proposing. If you need more information, don’t hesitate to visit the HP Museum web site to complete your introduction.


The following example proposes a HP-41CV calculator:

“The HP-41C represented a totally new concept in the design of Hewlett-Packard calculators. In fact, because of the advanced capabilities of the HP-41C, it can even be called a personal computing system. The HP-41C was the first Hewlett-Packard handheld calculator offering an exciting array of alphanumeric capabilities.

The HP-41CV is the same as the HP-41C except that it has 4 memory modules built in for a total of 319 registers (compared to 63) with the 4 extension ports still available to add other modules.”

The 'Specifications' section

Don’t forget to join to your description a very good quality picture showing the front of your calculator and its model name. The calculator will have to be shown preferably in working condition and at the end of the test sequence (for those having one). You can also present your calculator at the end of display test sequence to emphasize how all LCD or LED segments/dots/signs are illuminated. If it is possible, provide additional pictures showing the battery compartment, the battery tabs and the battery cover showing its latches next to the calculator.

Just fill the following form to supply a better description of your calculator:

  • Model,
  • Code name,
  • Revision,
  • Introduction price,
  • Made in,
  • Serial number.


The following example proposes a HP-41CV calculator:

  • Model HP-41CV,
  • Code name Silverbird,
  • Revision Halfnut,
  • Introduction price $325,
  • Made in Singapore in 1986,
  • Serial number 2637S23423.

The 'Condition' section

Describe here the condition of the calculator. You can introduce this section by giving the cosmetic and the working condition following the standard definition:

  • Mint: The calculator is really like new,
  • Excellent: The calculator shows some invisible very thin hair scratches,
  • Very good: The calculator shows some thin hair scratches here and there,
  • Good: The calculator shows some scratches (not deep and not on vital parts like the display),
  • Fair: The calculator shows scratches (eventually on the display), some dings,
  • Bad: The calculator shows scratches, dings and even cracks,
  • Very bad: The calculator shows deep scratches, dings, cracks and even broken parts,
  • For parts: The calculator shows major cosmetic problems and don’t work.

Regarding the working condition, you can just indicate:

  • Perfectly working: The calculator works like new,
  • Working: The calculator works with artifacts due to its age (sticky or repeating keys sometimes for example),
  • Partially working: The calculator works most of the time but the comportment is sometimes erratic (something has to be fixed somewhere),
  • Not working: The calculator does not work and you did not succeed to turn it on even with good batteries and an essential cleaning.

To evaluate the working state, you have at least to turn ON the calculator and proceed to basic operations (Add, subtract, multiply, divide …). Every key and switch has to respond. Avoid using the battery charger if you don’t have a battery inside the calculator. Prefer using rechargeable 1.2v batteries rather than alkaline 1.5v ones. If you use rechargeable, recharge them externally without the battery charger. For NiCd battery packs, it is easy to find cells to rebuild them for a couple of dollars. Proposing a recelled battery pack increases your chances to sell for a good price.

Now, you have to describe the condition of every part of your calculator:

  • Overall aspects
    • Scratches, dings, cracks, chipped, incomplete or missing parts,
    • presence of engraving or inscription like a name, a social security number, initials or other kind of inscription,
    • missing or altered back label like if there was an attempt to remove it,
    • missing serial number if this one is written on a sticker,
    • rubber feet condition.
  • Display
    • Missing LED or LCD segment, dot, comma, sign or other symbol. Most of calculators have a test sequence to identify this or you can try to fill the display with 8, sign, dot comma and exponent if there is not.
    • all problem relative to visibility (dark display …).
  • Keyboard & keys
    • Non working, sticky or repeating keys,
    • spongy keys without the famous HP click,
    • function lettering alteration (text on and above each key),
    • shiny parts consequently to usage (mainly close to the ON/OFF switch).
  • Battery
    • Corrosion presence,
    • holds or does not hold the charge,
    • original or not,
    • recelled or not.
  • Battery compartment
    • Corrosion presence,
    • battery terminals condition (shiny, cracked, incomplete, broken, corroded …),
    • battery door condition (notably latches presence and condition).
  • Battery charger
    • Working condition (unit, feeding cable and terminal connector),
    • Voltage and country standard,
    • bi-voltage supported or not.
  • Documentation
    • Torn or missing pages, dog ears,
    • writings, spots, discoloration,
    • stickers or other marks presence.
  • Box, travel case, carrying case & pouch
    • For box: Mention if cracked, creased, bumped or showing stickers or other marks.
    • For travel case (Classic series): Mention if vinyl is altered, if the HP logo is missing, if metal parts are torn.
    • For carrying case (Classic series): Mention if plastic latch is cracked, broken or missing.
    • For pouch: Mention if zipper does not work properly or is broken, if it is deteriorating inside.
  • Accessories & peripherals
    • Card reader working condition, repaired or not (famous gummy wheel problem),
    • optical reader working condition,
    • printing quality for printers (missing dots, rows, irregular printing …),
    • the same as calculators for all above mentioned aspects.


The following example proposes a HP-41CV calculator:

The HP-41CV model presented in this auction is in very good cosmetic and perfect working condition.

  • Overall calculator and display is scratch free except on the plastic band surrounding the side of the calculator where we can see one small ding and some thin hair scratches,
  • no other ding, no crack, no engraving,
  • rubber feet show some wear,
  • battery compartment is corrosion free but one battery contact had to be cleaned from a beginning of corrosion (there was tiny green residues),
  • modules compartment is like new and corrosion free,
  • no repeating or sticky key, every key click and work as expected,
  • no missing display dot or indicator,
  • 4 port covers (one has handle a little bit chipped without any consequence).

The 'What is included' section

Describe in this section all the items composing the auction lot:

  • Original box, travel case, carrying case, pouch,
  • owners manual, applications manual, quick reference card, accessories list, registration card, invoice, electronic documentation on CD or DVD,
  • calculator, keyboard overlays, port covers, battery cover, batteries,
  • battery charger, external battery charger unit,
  • applications pacs, modules, cards booklets, cards, manuals, keyboard overlays,
  • the same for peripherals as above mentioned aspects.


The following example proposes a HP-41CV calculator:

  • The original box,
  • the HP-41CV calculator in very good cosmetic and perfect working condition with its pouch, 4 port covers, battery tunnel port cover,
  • the battery door loaded with 4 N size fresh batteries,
  • the HP-41C/CV Owner's Handbook,
  • the HP-41C/CV Guide for the Experienced User,
  • the HP-41C/CV Quick Reference Guide,
  • the HP-41C Standard Applications manual,
  • one standard and one blank keyboard overlays,
  • one modules booklet,
  • the original registration card not used,
  • the original invoice.

The ‘Auction terms’ section

You can describe in this section what your policy is:

  • Bidders must receive your approval or not before bidding,
  • minimum feedback expected for bidders,
  • countries restrictions.

The ‘Payment’ section

You can describe in this section what your payment policy is.

It is recommended to sell 'international' and to ask for a Paypal payment or money order. This way, you will address more people and your chances to sell your calculator the real price will be much higher.

Note to Germany, Netherland and Belgium sellers: Most of the time, you propose bank transfer. You have to know that this method does not motivate to bid just because bank transfers are most of the time very expensive in other countries (the same for money orders). Furthermore, it is a complicated and long way to conclude a transaction.

The ‘Shipping & handling’ section

Avoid Collect On Delivery.
You have to give the shipping cost for every part of the world you consider.
Insert a reminder specifying that you are not responsible for customs relative stuffs and eventual costs claimed by the customs administration.

The ‘Warranty’ section

You can describe here what your return & warranty policy is. All HP vintage calculators are not anymore under warranty nevertheless, if your calculator is in mint condition, you can take the risk to propose it with a warranty period. In such case, you can also propose a refund policy if the client is not satisfied. Everything is is up to you.

Other tips

Depending the country, market prices can be slightly different and some models sold for a good price in a country could not work for another. Before selling a specific model, look at for those sold recently all over the world to define your selling strategy.

If you propose a ‘Buy it now’ option, you can either propose it alone or with a starting price not too far below from the ‘Buy it now’ price to avoid the ‘Buy it now’ option to disappear with a low bid.

Be realistic on the price you propose. People who buy those calculators know perfectly the market.

Read carefully your potential buyers’ questions and answer precisely. Don’t try to turn around if the question embarrasses you and answer frankly even if the answer will have a negative impact on your price. Good business is done with good people.

Because writing this guide took me a long time, don’t hesitate to contact me to enhance it. Thanks.

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