Tackling vintage weaponry, stereo consoles

By Terry Maurer, What's it Worth February 12, 2012 

Things are always changing and the more years pass, the more they seem to change.

The Super Bowl, for instance. Last weekend's big game started as a battle between the National Football League and the American Football League. See the changes?

In today's What's It Worth? we tackle readers' questions about two very different items. Each was outdated by advancing technology, yet each is collectible.

Q. Hello there. I have what I think is a cavalry saber from 1879. It measures 26 inches from tip to tip with the sheath on. It measures 253/8 inches without the sheath. Both the sheath and blade appear to have been cleaned to remove rust. A fancy script "P" 22187 is stamped on the "collar" on the sheath. And engraved on the flat upper part of the sword is "Mre d'armes de St Etienne avril 1879." Do you have any idea of its history, who made it and which war it could have been associated with? And its approximate worth. Any information would be helpful. Thank you. -- Maureen in Richland

A. This is an infantry bayonet, not a cavalry saber. Technically, it is a French sword bayonet, also known as a "yataghan." Yataghan is a type of Ottoman short sword or knife.

They were first used in combat in French Indochina and later in the Sino-French War of 1883. Standard issue until early World War I, they were turned over to French reserve units after that conflict. Many are seen today by collectors.

St. Etiene was a government-owned arms manufacturing company located in the town of the same name. It was an area already known for production of knives and swords as early as the Middle Ages.

Today's value is about $100; less if you didn't have the sheath. If the blade has been cleaned, that may reduce the value a bit.

Q. My parents bought this SABA 3000 Hi-Fi console stereo in the early 1960s while stationed in Germany. It is in excellent condition: the AM/FM tuner and speakers work well, and the turntable needs to be adjusted. We would appreciate any assistance in determining this stereo's value. Thanks so much! -- Ann in the Tri-Cities

A. What you have is a rather nice-looking piece of Mid-Century Modern (that's 20th century) furniture. That's basically what it is now. Back in its day, which was the 1960s, this stereo was state-of-the-art. Audiophiles would have swooned listening to it. Of course, it is still a great stereo, but it won't play CDs.

Here is a bit of history. The Schwarwalder Apparate-Bau-Anstalt Company (SABA) started out as makers of cuckoo clocks in Germany's Black Forest. By the late 1920s, the firm was producing one of the best radios ever heard. They eventually got into tape recorders, TVs and even had a record label at one time. They went out of business about 1980.

Their console and tabletop radio sets are what collectors go for today, especially those in full working order. Prices can range up to $500 or more.

Pieces of furniture with old electronic components are less desirable, but still collectible. A unit very similar to this was listed on Ebay last month with an asked-for opening bid of $295. There were no bids and it did not sell.

A fair retail price for a working console in excellent condition, no dings or scratches to the wood, etc., would be in the $250 to $300 range.

You have a cool-looking furniture item that can be used as a buffet or long side table. And, you get to enjoy the music too!

-- Terry Maurer, a Tri-Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What's It Worth? by email tchwhatsitworth@ gmail.com.

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