Thread Number: 10572
The universe is groaning over this incomprehensible tragedy
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Post# 114337   11/11/2010 at 11:06 (3,492 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

See link. The seller noted he had removed and washed the bag. All sorts of alarm sirens and bells went off, so I wrote and asked, "When you washed the bag, did any of the silkscreened logo dissolve or flake off? Even a little bit?"

A couple days went by and the seller finally replied, "Hi, Yes it appears it did lose some of the imprinting."

So I wrote back:


Well, that is a real pity. The bag looks like it was in perfect condition. This is something you really need to note in your description.

If I was the bidder who won this machine and it did not arrive looking EXACTLY as it appears in the photos, especially if the bag was messed up, I'd be mighty steamed. Especially if I bid against a lot of other collectors and paid big money for it.

I really wish people who don't know what they are doing would not try to clean up or "restore" old collectibles. Because most of the time, the objects end up damaged.

A 50-year-old vacuum cleaner hardly ever shows up in such immaculate condition anymore. An original 50-year-old cloth bag in excellent condition is even harder to find than a 50-year-old machine. And now you've basically ruined it in terms of its desirability and value to collectors.


Just posting this as a warning to those who rightfully might be lusting after this machine, a once-perfect specimen. I think you should all know that the bag is ruined. From my experience, washing old cloth Kirby bags is doomed for disaster. I'd rather have a bag that's a little bit soiled or discolored with a perfect logo, than to have one that's spotlessly clean but with a ruined logo.

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Post# 114349 , Reply# 1   11/11/2010 at 12:59 (3,491 days old) by Sablekid ()        

I saw that last night and was thinkin exactly the same thing.

Post# 114370 , Reply# 2   11/11/2010 at 17:04 (3,491 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

The seller, clearly clueless, wrote back, "This is the thanks I get for rescuing the kirby from the dump?"

Post# 114372 , Reply# 3   11/11/2010 at 17:18 (3,491 days old) by arh1953 ( River Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida)        
The seller is a moron

arh1953's profile picture
Other things to remember, is that you do not clean old coins or furniture, or you destroy the value.

Post# 114377 , Reply# 4   11/11/2010 at 19:10 (3,491 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I replied back, realizing there's probably no point in doing so (some people don't want input from experts, preferring to revel in their uninformed bliss):


Nothing personal. I'm just trying to let you know that when someone is not experienced in cleaning or restoring collectible items -- as you clearly are not experienced -- then such people should not attempt to do so.

Especially since the person most impacted, when it's all said and done, is you, in terms of the economic return on the machine.

Would you rather I [or another collector] had said nothing, then wonder why the bidding was lukewarm on the Kirby? Or wonder why the high bidder "reamed you a new one" when s/he got the machine and found the bag had been ruined, and you had not noted that on the listing? And then maybe repeat the same
mistake with another old vacuum?

Post# 114380 , Reply# 5   11/11/2010 at 19:59 (3,491 days old) by Sablekid ()        

I agree, but it should be the responsibilty of the buyer to ask and inquire as much as possible, especially in an instance like this where the condition is questionable.

Ebay is always tricky like that.

I'd love to buy a Sentria...but I really dont trust anyone that is selling these machines at next to nothing prices...I'd rather have the company make the profit than someone I dont know. Its definetely more thrifty, but If I were to buy used...I'd rather it be a local dealer.

However, that is just my position. I see the other side as well.

Post# 114386 , Reply# 6   11/11/2010 at 20:11 (3,491 days old) by mercuryman ()        

Is the seller serious in making this remark:

"This is the thanks I get for rescuing the kirby from the dump?"

Really? I'd reply to him: "USE YOUR HEAD! This is what you get when you rescue things from the dump that you know nothing about and THEN try to sell them to make money!"

Obviously, someone who would be interested in buying it would know a thing or two about the machine...otherwise, why would he or she want it? Dumb a$$.

Post# 114392 , Reply# 7   11/11/2010 at 21:02 (3,491 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I agree, but it should be the responsibilty of the buyer to ask and inquire as much as possible, especially in an instance like this where the condition is questionable.

Right, but it is the responsibility of honest sellers to post questions about a listing that reveal significant defects to the machine being sold. You will note that the seller has not posted my question, nor his response.

Which is why I posted this alert here. For myself, I'd sure be hopping mad if I bid on this machine which in the photo clearly has a beautiful bag with a perfect logo, and it arrived with the bag washed and the logo ruined, and, furthermore, the bag could well be shrunk if he washed it in hot water.

"Sani emptor." Er, I mean, "Caveat emptor!" hahaha

Post# 114403 , Reply# 8   11/11/2010 at 23:28 (3,491 days old) by Sablekid ()        

True, an honest seller should post questions and responses.

Im just coming from the buyers perspective, as a collector those types of things are automatically questioned!

Ive made that mistake before with one of those bags and learned from it. I guess its just important that the kirby was saved rather than headed to the dump. Better to have them in okay condition than not at all!

I just hope he takes this as a learning experience and continues to post quality vintage items.

Post# 114406 , Reply# 9   11/12/2010 at 00:10 (3,491 days old) by joe22 ()        

belt lifter is wrong too ?

Post# 114407 , Reply# 10   11/12/2010 at 00:13 (3,491 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

On his picture of the machine that shows the bag-the picture is such poor quality-you can't see much anyway.
I take the gun collectors adage---DON'T DO ANYTHING to the gun or other item unless YOU really know what you are doing-those dings,dents,wear only contribute to the specimens story it has to tell.I don't always beleive in trying to restore an older item to where it looks like it just rolled out of the factory.Think of it-you have just acquired a 100Yr old ORIGINAL Colt Single Action Army revolver-many of these older orig specimens have been FOREVER ruined by a well meaning "collector-restorer"who got careless with a buffing wheel and quick bluing.same as the vacuum-best is to LEAVE it as you got it!Too me a heavily restored specimen may be LESS valueable than an original one!In the case of the revolver-These are NO LONGER built by Colt-LEAVE IT AS YOU GOT IT!!!!Expert firearms restoration is expensive-and like the Kirby bag-washing ruins the logos.Yes-I clean up things I get-but don't go much further than that.If the vacuums motor runs nicely----LEAVE IT ALONE!!!My older Kirbys DO NOT shine like they left the factory-gives them their charactor.My new ones do.

Post# 114413 , Reply# 11   11/12/2010 at 00:31 (3,491 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

@joe22 - That is the correct belt lifter, exclusive to the 560 and 561. The 562, the first machine with tan trim, has a similar belt lifter but its colors are gold with dark brown lettering instead of gold with red lettering.

Post# 114419 , Reply# 12   11/12/2010 at 00:56 (3,491 days old) by jfalberti (Visalia, CA)        
Maybe the Universe is at fault ...

jfalberti's profile picture
Man's desire to make everything as idiot proof as possible is only counter acted by the Universes desire to create bigger and better idiots.

What I mean by this is the seller isn't a collector. He didn't know that washing the bag would destroy part of what would make it a collectible machine. At least his opening bid was not $200. I've seen other collectors on this site who have washed a rare bag like that and messed up the logo, and then with their own or someone else's artistic talent fix it. Is it original? No, but I've seen others rave about what a good job they did after doing the same thing. I for one am happy this seller did not let this machine go to the dump. I hope I win it because even though the bag has been washed, I will live with it until I can find a proper replacement.

This post was last edited 11/12/2010 at 01:30
Post# 114421 , Reply# 13   11/12/2010 at 02:07 (3,491 days old) by mercuryman ()        
As an Afterthought:

With eBay, it's really "Buyer Beware."

I've won some terrific items from eBay...items that I purchased far below what I would have been willing to pay had I faced competition for them. Items that arrived at my house packaged with such care, and when I opened them up, they were more pristine than I could have hoped for.

I've also won some items that, upon receiving them, I thought to myself, "I paid shipping for this piece of crap?"

I guess when dealing with the "layman's" selling forum (as I consider eBay), this is what you have to try to filter out. I now scrutinize every item description...every photograph...and ask questions of the seller to ensure I'm not bidding on a LOLALLTHEWAY2THEBANK item.

Yes, it is absolutely the seller's responsibility to accurately describe the items he or she sells. When his or her customers have been burned...that's when their feedback declines. If someone has less than 99% feedback, I don't buy from them.

It's all business, through and through.

Let's say you walk into a hardware store and purchase a set of Christmas lights that fails to work after a week. Do you think the store cares about their reputation at the time you go to return them? No...they'll just hand you a new set of lights. But when the whole neighborhood has to return their lights...and they stop making money...that's when they get the message.

Even if that dude made $20 off that Kirby...laundered bag or not, it's still $20 he didn't have before, as it came from the dump. Educating the seller isn't likely to dissuade him from selling crap in the future. (Sorry's just kind of an unfortunate fact.)

Post# 114426 , Reply# 14   11/12/2010 at 09:10 (3,491 days old) by Ohio_Tuec ()        
Washing Kirby bags

Everything said here is very true, and it is a shame. But it would be even more of a shame were it a black duvetyne bag with the red & gold graphics. Seems everyone and his brother who had a 505 upgraded to a later bag at some point. Like the gentleman said, he rescued this machine from the dump. I shudder to think that everyday somewhere in this country Kirbys just like this one are still getting scrapped, by nitwits who think they are too heavy and don't realize their value in terms of collectibility. Granted, its 50 years old, but it'll never be as rare as say an "R" series machine. Just like an Electrolux Automatic G will never be as rare as a model XII. At least it survived the crusher. Just my two cents.

- Karl

Post# 114433 , Reply# 15   11/12/2010 at 10:54 (3,491 days old) by akabent (LEFT Coast)        
"Man's desire to make everything as idiot proof as p

Here, Here! None of us wish to see a piece of history destroyed or compromised, but in all fairness, the seller would have had no way to know or believe she was going to hurt the bag and her honesty and integrity is evident in her disclosure that the bag had been washed (as opposed, perhaps, by implying that it was immaculate due to virtually no useage.) It is always sad when these things happen as they likely have to all of us (me for sure!)but I can easily see how she became defensive.
Just my thoughts.

Post# 114445 , Reply# 16   11/12/2010 at 12:57 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

My original point in all this was to alert potential buyers of this Kirby that the bag was ruined. In the process of corresponding with the seller and realizing he really did not care about "educating" his potential buyers by alerting them to this fact, I got a bit irritated with him. So my second message to him was harsher than it needed to be, I suppose.

The thing is, having been burned so many times on eBay myself when something arrived not looking at all like the photos (&/or broken to bits because of careless packing), I certainly would have appreciated having been warned beforehand in those cases.

But if folks would rather me keep quiet about "fact finding missions" such as this, I will certainly do so! Let them pay hundreds of dollars for an old Kirby because a bidding war ensues over the photos on the listing and then end up crying when the machine arrives.

I was just trying to do y'all a favor.

(P.S.: I'm not buying the seller's comment that s/he "rescued the machine from the dump." Looking at the other stuff s/he's selling and has sold in the recent past, it does not look like dumptster-diving stuff to me. I think this was just a smart-ass ["defensive"] reply to my comments.)

Post# 114448 , Reply# 17   11/12/2010 at 15:35 (3,490 days old) by truckerx (Palm Springs, CA)        

truckerx's profile picture

Post# 114450 , Reply# 18   11/12/2010 at 18:28 (3,490 days old) by powertank ()        

@ akabent: I agree completely. I'm just glad to see a seller actually try and clean something up before they sell it- we all know there is more than enough dirty crap on the bay. How was he supposed to know? Most people don't even know that vacuums are collectible. His opening bid was completely reasonable as well, he didn't try and get $1000 for his "ultra rare kerby vintage L@@K at".

Post# 114451 , Reply# 19   11/12/2010 at 19:03 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

"I'm just glad to see a seller actually try and clean something up before they sell it"

Even though in the process of doing so they ruined it???????

A seller's opening bid has NO bearing whatsoever on what the final selling amount might be. Many auctions that started out for a dollar ended up at many hundreds of dollars when buyers erupted into a bidding war. The seller's opening bid is irrelevant.

I guess the message is, though, that I need to just shut-up and stop doing anyone any favors, and let them find out the hard way when they receive a machine with a ruined bag that the seller "overlooked" mentioning in his or her listing.

OY VEY indeed.

Post# 114452 , Reply# 20   11/12/2010 at 19:10 (3,490 days old) by arh1953 ( River Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida)        
Sorry, the seller is wrong

arh1953's profile picture
Frankly, I'd rather be warned.

Post# 114453 , Reply# 21   11/12/2010 at 19:15 (3,490 days old) by powertank ()        

It's his vacuum at the moment, not yours. It's his loss if he ruins it. Yes, the bags are rare but at least he was trying. He just increased the value of the rest of the surviving bags.

Post# 114454 , Reply# 22   11/12/2010 at 19:17 (3,490 days old) by powertank ()        

Also, the reason he was rude to you is because you were rude to him. Perhaps you were just sad and shocked by the "tragedy".

Post# 114455 , Reply# 23   11/12/2010 at 19:18 (3,490 days old) by Sablekid ()        

Well it seems to not matter to the ones bidding!

I was gonna bid, but not if its going to be another 100.00 machine

Post# 114456 , Reply# 24   11/12/2010 at 20:08 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I'll probably regret belaboring the point since, most likely, doing so will merely entice more quibbling ........ That having been said, here are two copies of the seller's photo which I enhanced in Photoshop, one with a blown-up detail of the bag. See below.

While the photo is still fuzzy and the details are not really clear, it does at least APPEAR that the logo on the bag is intact.

My guess is that the photo was taken before the bag was washed, not after. Because, again, my experience with this exact type of Kirby bag is that if you wash it, the logo suffers from exposure to water and begins to disintegrate. If you machine-wash it in hot water, the logo will probably completely disintegrate. And the bag will shrink. Significantly.

Quite a few years ago, I had a beautiful 519 bag that looked dingy and kinda yellowish. However, it had a perfectly intact logo, something that even then was hard to find. Well, I made the huge mistake of thinking that if I carefully hand-washed it in cold water and Woolite, no harm would come to the bag. I'd have a bag with bright and vivid colors, and with a perfect logo.


I gently folded the bag into the sink full of cold water and Woolite. Right before my very eyes, the logo immediately began flaking off and bits of silver and red started floating up in the water. Horrified, I snatched the bag out of the water and let it line dry. By the time it was fully dried, all the lettering had come off and there were bits of red and silver flaked all over the bag. Talking about a major sob-fest.


Maybe some people don't know how those Kirby logos were applied. Well, they were silk-screened using a certain type of printing process. The logo outline and lettering are made of printer's ink. Over years, the ink loses its oil-based moisture and begins to dry out and harden. As it does, hairline cracks start developing in the ink, and the more the logo is disturbed, the deeper the cracks begin developing.

(If those of you who have 516~561 bags would care to have a look at the logos under a magnifying glass, you'll see this.)

Well, once the cracks begin developing, if the bag gets wet, water gets in under and behind the lettering through the cracks in the ink. Because the ink is brittle and dried-out, there's nothing holding it to the bag any longer, and it just falls off. What you usually end up with is a shadowy outline on the bag where the logo used to be.

Some bags have survived better than others, so, obviously, some bad effects are worse than others when washing depending on how much heat, humidity and sunlight the bag has been exposed to. But I personally would no longer want to take the chance that a particular Kirby has been kept in a hermetically sealed vault away from heat, humidity and sunlight.

As I said before, in the beginning of this lamentable saga, I would never again wash any of the gray or black Kirby bags with silk-screened logos.

Others may feel differently, of course.

Post# 114457 , Reply# 25   11/12/2010 at 20:09 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

Post# 114458 , Reply# 26   11/12/2010 at 20:10 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I really do not think I was being "rude" to the seller. What did I say that was "rude?" I =was= being CLEAR in expressing my dismay that he had washed the bag and ruined it, but I was not being rude about it.

Post# 114459 , Reply# 27   11/12/2010 at 20:13 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

And FWIW, to some collectors a 500-series Kirby with a perfect bag would be worth quite a lot more than just "a hundred dollars."

Not to me, really, since I couldn't afford it ... "I'm just sayin'......."

The last thing I'm going to say about this is that I really am baffled by certain people's reactions to this thread.

"I was only trying to help."

Post# 114460 , Reply# 28   11/12/2010 at 20:31 (3,490 days old) by Sablekid ()        

Of course it would be worth more,

they can afford it, can pay the price, and are willing...therefore setting the top end worth.

I had to fight for my DS50 bag, demand was high and availability low. Now it seems like they're a lot more common.....

Post# 114475 , Reply# 29   11/12/2010 at 22:26 (3,490 days old) by truckerx (Palm Springs, CA)        

truckerx's profile picture
I think that any savvy collector would know that a washed bag may well be a ruined bag. It happens. Ebay auctioning is not a perfect science. Buyer Beware!!

Post# 114483 , Reply# 30   11/13/2010 at 07:19 (3,490 days old) by vinvac (Dubuque IA)        

vinvac's profile picture
Policing Ebay is really not what this club is about. Most Ebay sellers listing old vacuums just want the junk out of the house. We are lucky they list them before placing them at the curb.

We don't know why the seller would have washed the bag...perhaps it had a moldy fairness, I would have washed the bag...carefully, but I don't want someone else's dirt....again, he did not do anything wrong!

Not understanding our hobby is not his fault. We should not feel the need to write every Ebay seller and tell them what they have done wrong. We all know that purchasing on Ebay is at your own risk. We have all had bad experiences, but for me, the good experiences far out number the bad.

Forcing our opinions and thoughts on others just makes the club look bad. It keeps people from wanting to join, read or be a part of who we are.

With that being said...lets move forward...


Post# 114488 , Reply# 31   11/13/2010 at 11:22 (3,490 days old) by akabent (LEFT Coast)        
" I'd rather be warned"

Good point.
Unquestionably, Charles' knowledge and available time to search Ebay can serve to avoid grave disappointments. Perhaps the warning could be left on The Forum, thus benefiting collectors without the insults sellers clearly feel.
Rick B

Post# 114489 , Reply# 32   11/13/2010 at 11:36 (3,490 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

There were no insults. There was no rudeness.

Some of you are confusing frankness with rudeness. Two different things.

The strongest thing I said was that the seller is clueless and naive. Which CLEARLY he is, regarding vintage collectibles. And the seller himself CLEARLY agreed, inasmuch as he stated he had just "rescued the machine from the dump."

I am not "using this forum to police eBay." I simply thought it would be a good deed to alert potential buyers to the fact that the bag had probably been ruined.

As the seller said, "This is the thanks I get?" Believe me, I won't do any more such favors.

Y'all really need to get a grip.

And it's time for me to take a break (again) from all this emo and drama.


Post# 114496 , Reply# 33   11/13/2010 at 15:31 (3,489 days old) by Sablekid ()        

Such blunt frankness can easily be intrepreted as arrogance.

To be frank

I would have been livid had I been the seller....or just laughed, either way.

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