Note the following additional caution/information applies to interpretation:

These prices are for cymbals which don't have any major flaws. Major flaws include: edge cracks, cracks along the tonal grooves, large chunks missing, clumsy repairs which may fail, etc.

The links to the definitions and pictures for these condition categories (including pictures) will be added when I get to it.

According to Bill Maley (somebody I trust in these matters since he buys and sells a lot of them thus wouldn't be in business if he couldn't price things correctly to cover his overheads), Old Stamps get prices which are generally higher than Intermediate or New Stamps. Note that cymbals will sell for values outside the expected range, but not very often. Think of it as an 80/20 rule where 80% of sales will be in the expected range. Of course there are going to be exceptions. This might be the garage sale where you get one for $25 or it might be the top value achieved for a light Old Stamp 22" (over $4000). That doesn't make the rule of thumb incorrect, or any less useful.

My analysis is based on completed sales, not on "asking" prices. A distribution for sales price is given, along with the "expected" price which is estimated from the median of the distribution. Given that actual sales figures cover a wide range, how do you know where your cymbal sits in that range? These are some of the factors which determine where a cymbal sits in the expected price range:

- Condition matters. If the cymbal is in excellent condition it will likely get more than one which is showing wear, other things being equal. If you cymbal is in pristine condition you can expect to get in the upper quartile of the price distribution.
- Small edge dings, tiny bell cracks (which can happen with these given the smaller mounting hole), nicks, scratches, etc. lower the expected price, but I don't have enough data on by how much just yet. If your cymbal is showing it's age expect to get the median price.
- Higher prices may be expected for those with nice patina which haven't been polished within an inch of their life. Signatures under the bell and original paper tags, etc, may be a bonus, although obviously this factor interacts with still having patina. If a cymbal hasn't been overzealously cleaned it will tend to have both patina and the signature still under the bell.
- Certainly for 18" and bigger, "thin is in" so lighter weights tend to fetch higher prices, other things being equal. But note that weight ranges for Istanbul Ks aren't the same as modern cymbals ( that's the translation of a weight in grams to terms like "thin" or "medium" -- which always loses the original weight information). In addition it may be that the more desirable weight range doesn't extend to extremely light. There may be some sort of "sweet spot" or "sweet range" and cymbals which fall well outside of that "sweet range" (either much heavier or much lighter) do not get the highest prices.

In the analysis which follow we look at what production era the cymbal
come from because this is a factor in the expected price.
Bill Hartrick published the original work on trademark analysis, and you
can find his current version in
*The Gretsch Drum Book* by Rob Cook (published by
Rebeats) 2013.
In order to have large enough sample sizes for analysis I'm only dividing cymbals up
into the three major eras: Old, Intermediate, New.

If you don't know what these eras are, you can use my Which K Stamp? tool to get an overview or identify a particular cymbal. This K Stamp tool is under revision to include the earliest Turkish K Zildjians when the trademark said "Constantinople" rather than Istanbul". But in terms of the pricing analysis these are lumped in with Old Stamps for now due to low sample sizes. Don't be confused by the reuse of this K Constantinople naming in modern times. The American manufactured K Zildjian Constantinople is not part of this analysis. In fact, no K Zildjian cymbals from North America appear here. Only the Turkish ones.

Yes there are a few 24" Old Ks out there in vintage cymbal land. Here are the ones I've recorded to date:

New Stamp: 2590g no price (weight record only)

New Stamp: 3031g asking $2990 but unsold at that price

New Stamp: 2720g asking $3500 but unsold at that price

New Stamp: 2750g asking $3850 but unsold at that price

Int Stamp: 3185g sold $1225 ink saying THIN

About the only conclusions I think we can safely draw are

- there aren't very many of them which come up for sale
- they don't tend to sell if priced above $2500

Analysis date: 3 Dec 2017

The above is a plot of prices for 22" cymbals divided by Stamp (Trademark) Era. This is a box-and-whiskers plot and it may not be familiar to you. So here is a little introduction to what boxplots are and why they are a nice way to see what is going on in a set of data. In addition to the three eras of Turkish Ks, I've also included cymbals made by Roberto Spizzichino (RIP) in this analysis. Roberto's cymbals have achieved renown for their tonal qualities which are like Turkish Ks. The prices that Roberto's 22" cymbals are getting these days brings them into the same range as New and Intermediate Stamp Turkish Ks.

You can see that Old Stamps generally fetch higher prices than New or Intermediate stamps. Some Spizz sell for more than some old Ks. Sometimes the other way around. As always, there is plenty of variability in prices.

- Old Stamp: Expected median price $2000 with half selling for between $1700 and $2400 n=36
- Intermediate Stamp: Expected median price $1686 with half selling for between $1500 and $1900 n=13
- New Stamp: Expected median price $1550 with half selling for between $1200 and $1750 n=32
- Spizzichino: Expected median price $1500 with half selling for between $1200 and $2000 n=35

Statistical significance tests show no sign of a change in prices over the years 2013 to 2017. What might look like a fall off in prices and then a recovery are all within the natural variation in the samples. Prices are just quite variable.

Given the degree of variation in prices we might not be able to pick up a steady increase of $30 a year in prices because the signal would be swamped by the background variation in prices from one sale to another. But we can rule out the kind of price gains which have been claimed for these in the past. If it was happening then, it doesn't appear to be happing in the past 5 years. Plus given where prices are at now compared to 10 years ago, it doesn't look like it was happening in the last decade.

In terms of weights, the distribution of weights for the different eras is quite similar. One can find heavier, medium, or light 22" cymbals from all periods. Spizzichino cymbals seem to be more closely distributed around their median, with the few heavy outliers representing Jon Christiansen clones and other specific models or requests.

Weight does have a small predictive effect on Price even after taking Era into account. However, this effect is small and accounts for about 2% of the variation in price. Here's a graph showing weights with cutoff points for light and heavy provided by Joe (JDA on Cymbalholic).

The overall distribution of weights fits the normal distribution quite well: most are in the middle, then some are a bit lighter or heavier, and out at the extremes there are a very few extremely light or extremely heavy ones.

Analysis date: 4 Nov 2017

The above is a plot of prices for 20" cymbals divided by Stamp (Trademark) Era. Once again cymbals by Roberto Spizzichino are included as honorary Old Ks.

You can see that Old Stamps And Spizzichino cymbals generally fetch higher prices than New or Intermediate stamps. Some Spizz sell for more than some old Ks. Sometimes the other way around. As always, there is lots of variability in individual cymbal prices, but overlying this there is a clear pattern. The pattern for price differences between Intermediate and New Stamps is different in the 20" diameter than it is for the 22" diameter. Intermediate Stamps have the lowest prices, on average. Then come New Stamps, and then Old Stamps and Spizzichino. Here are the current best estimates of price:

- Old Stamp: Expected median price $1290 with half selling for between $965 and $1600 n=26
- Intermediate Stamp: Expected median price $742 with half selling for between $600 and $810 n=39
- New Stamp: Expected median price $860 with half selling for between $730 and $990 n=50
- Spizzichino: Expected median price $1535 with half selling for between $1100 and $1700 n=17

Image: 20" K prices by Weight and Era

When weight and production era are considered jointly you can see that on average Old Stamp and Spizzichino cymbals are lighter than New Stamps and Intermediate Stamps. There are a few heavier Old Stamp and Spizzichino sales, and they don't fetch the top prices. But then neither do the very lightest Old Stamp 20" cymbals (1600g and below). It may be that there is a sweet spot around 1700g to 1900g for both Spizzichino and Old Stamps in terms of price (and one presumes desirability). This suggests that weight scales are actually non linear from most player's perspectives. Too heavy doesn't get highest price, too light doesn't get highest price. I'll be looking into this at a later date, but I want to get the preliminary pricing info out first.

The production era makes the largest contribution to predicting price by far, but there is a small effect of weigh once you take production era into account. Taking weight alone as a predictor of price and you predict about 16% of the variation in price. Taking production era alone predicts about 36% of the variation in price. Combine the two predictors and you explain 49% jointly with weight making a detectable independent contribution.

If we just focus on the simpler distribution of weights as seen above we can see a few patterns more clearly. Firstly, Roberto Spizzichino produced cymbals which had weight distributions similar to Old Stamps and a fairly focused range of variation. As with the 22" size, there is one unusually heavy cymbal. But in the larger context of other K Istanbul cymbals this is common to all the production eras if we set a cutoff of about 2600g for a 20".

Secondly, there is a small difference in the weights of Intermediate versus Old Stamp/Spizzichino cymbals but there isn't much in it. We're talking 100g more for Intermediate Stamp cymbals against a background of lots of variation in all production eras.

Statistical significance tests show no sign of a change in prices over the years 2013 to 2017. What might look like a change in median prices from year to year is all within the natural variation in the samples. Prices are just quite variable. If you fit a joint model with Year and Production Era, any apparent changes from year to year are accounted for by fluctuations in the numbers of cymbals of different production eras which are sold year on year. One year might see a few more Spizzichinos or Old Stamp cymbals, another year might see a few less.

Analysis date: 4 Dec 2017

The first thing to notice when you look at Old K 18" cymbals by price and production era is that there are 9 cymbals above 1800g, and some substantially above that weight. This puts them in a different weight class than the lighter ones, and this is reflected in price. Whatever production era these heavy 18" cymbals come from, they tend to sell for

- Old K (any stamp) over 1800g: Expected median price $400 with half selling for between $300 and $500 n=9

Note: In addition to these Old K (Old, Int, New) Medium Heavy to Heavy cymbals there is one recorded sale of an Old K Con 18" cymbal which I've kept separate. 18" cymbals from the 1920s are quite rare and although it was Heavy at 2135g this one sold for $742.40 with 26 bids from 12 bidders. So you should only use the expected median price of $400 for Old stamps, not Old K Constaninople cymbals. And if you've got an 18" Orchestral pair of Old K Constantinople cymbals the expected value is higher again, but outside my recorded data.

Image: 18" Old K prices by Era

The above is a plot of prices for 18" cymbals < 1800g divided by Stamp (Trademark) Era. This plot excludes cymbals by Roberto Spizzichino (there are only 6) but we will mention them separately. All of the Spizzichno 18" cymbals I've recorded have been under 1515g.

You can see that Old Stamps fetch slightly higher prices than New or Intermediate stamps. Here are the current best estimates of price for 18" cymbals which weigh less than 1800g:

- Old Stamp: Expected median price $750 with half selling for between $500 and $900 n=24
- Intermediate Stamp: Expected median price $510 with half selling for between $375 and $560 n=17
- New Stamp: Expected median price $517 with half selling for between $380 and $600 n=29
- Spizzichino: Expected median price $1000 with a range of $770 to $1160 n=6

Image: 18" Old K Weights by Era

Old Stamps are lighter on average than New Stamps, which are in turn lighter on average than Intermediate Stamps. So do the price differences relate to production era? Or to the different weights?

Production era alone predicts about 22% of the variation in price. Adding weight into the equation does not improve the prediction. Once you know the production era, weight doesn't contribute significantly to price estimates.

There is a small but detectable decrease in price showing, particularly in the 2017 year where the median price is down about $100. However, this effect is still small compared to the price difference between Old Stamps and the later Old Ks (Intermediate and New). The addition of a Year effect increases the predictive ability from 22% to 26%.

Analysis date: 5 Dec 2017

For single cymbals the median selling price for 16" Turkish made K Zildjians is

- Old K Con Stamp: Expected median price $200 with half selling for between $175 and $338 n=5
- Old K Stamp: Expected median price $365 with half selling for between $280 to $400 n=13
- Intermediate Stamp: Expected median price $250 with half selling for between $188 and $324 n=7
- New Stamp: Expected median price $369 with half selling for between $345 and $400 n=29

Here are the weights for 16" Turkish made K Zildjians I've got in my database:

There is no predictive relationship between weight and price, and this is borne out by statistical analysis. Stamp era predicts about 15% of price, and weight does nothing. There is also no change in prices over the years 2014-2017. Just lots of variability.

In addition to single cymbals there are 5 16" cymbals sold as pairs. There were two Old Stamp pairs. One pair (1100g and 1155g) sold for $450 and the other (1090g, 1721g) sold for $1250. Two pairs of New Stamp sold. One pair (1000g and 1680g) sold for $545 and the other (1190g and 1190g) sold for $1200. One Intermediate pair (approx 1151g each) sold for about $750. This small amount of data tells us that some pairs are matched and some are quite different weights. And it warns us that there is no consensus on price.

Analysis date: 5 Dec 2017

Which shows that the pairs are evenly matched on weight top and bottom. The one exception on the lower left extreme is a mixed pairing of an Old Stamp with a very light Italian cymbal, so we know it wasn't manufactured as a pair.

Based on 21 pairs the median expected value for 15" pairs is

- Old K: Expected median price $700 with half selling for between $600 and $990 n=18
- K Con: Expected median price $200 with half selling for between $190 and $500 n=3

In addition, a band pair with wooden handles and Old Stamps went for $575 and an Orchestral pair with leather handles with a K Con Stamps went for $810. But in contrast to these prices, two other K Con pairs went for $200. So there isn't a clear pattern with this small amount of data (only 3 sales of K Cons as pairs). The one $810 sale looks like an unusual outlier result for a K Con 15" pair, especially when we also consider the relative prices of Old K vs K Con single cymbals.

There were 20 single 15" cymbals sold, the price estimate is

- Old K: Expected median price $308 with half selling for between $225 and $407 n=14
- K Con: Expected median price $138 with half selling for between $95 and $194 n=6

Analysis date: 4 Dec 2017

For Hi Hat pairs the prices are not significantly different by production era so the current best estimate is

- Old K: Expected median price $600 with half selling for between $500 and $800 n=38
- Spizzichino: Expected median price $800 (small sample of n=3)

The distribution of top versus bottom weights looks like this:

Which shows that the pairs for sale are matched top and bottom (versus the mid 1960s New Beat style with a heavier bottom. The exception is one unusual pairing which stands out as a light top and the heaviest bottom which was a New Stamp pair. Also of note is the single pair of Old K Con 14" cymbals which were sold as a pair. The rest of the Old K Con sales are all singles. In the context of the other weights the Old K Con pair look likely to be a marching band pair. Weights and weight ratios don't seem to vary significantly by production era for old K hats. Prices also don't seem to be related to the weights or weight ratio.

Note that when these Turkish made K Zildjian hats are sold they are sometimes referred to as "factory matched pairs" but that may or may not be the case. Matched in the sense of similar weights, yes. Matched at the factory in Istanbul? Matched by Gretsch when they arrived in the USA? Only your hairdresser knows for sure.

There are 29 sales for single 14" cymbals, with a median price of $200 and half selling for between $130 and $280. Again there is no detectable difference between production eras. There is also no correlation between price and weight. Prices are just variable but the expected price prediction is not improved by using information from production era or weight.

It looks like the expected price for a single is less than half the expect price for a pair ($200 versus $600 for a pair so $300 each when sold as a pair). This suggests that sellers who break up a pair of Old K hats hoping to get more for them may be pursuing a less than optimal strategy. Please don't break up Old K pairs which come to you as pairs.

Analysis date: 3 Dec 2017

There are also 7 13" single cymbals, either Old Stamps old Old K Con. Median price $175, and half sold for between $107 and $190. There was also one pair of band cymbals with wooden handles which sold for $285, but had a tonal groove crack at the bell bow transition which means one wasn't playable.

Analysis date: 3 Dec 2017

There are 3 sales of 12" cymbals at $75, $91 and $97. These are all Old K Con. There was also one offer of an Old Stamp IIB at $189 but the eBay auction was pulled and marked "item no longer available". I record these but don't use the prices because we don't know the real outcome or the actual price if it sold.

There are 3 sales of 10" single cymbals. They have the most extreme distribution of price we are likely to see. One Old K Con sold in a Thrift Shop for $5.36, one New Stamp sold for $96 (with 4 bids) and one Old Stamp reputedly sold for $490 but I'm suspicious of that price. It's a bit extreme in the same way that $5.36 is a bit extreme. Neither are going to tell you much about an expected price.

Analysis date: 3 Dec 2017

Here are some quotes from 2008:

"Old Ks are also going up in value fast. I've seen nice old stamp 22s get above $3k lately."

"My friend is a vintage drum dealer and he stashes the Ks, because they are going up in value so fast right now that it doesn't pay to sell them. If you can wait a month, it might be another 50 or 100 bucks."

"The old K market is unpredictable. In the 90s, a 22 was 300 bucks tops. Now its 10 times that for a really nice old stamp 22. In the early 2000s there was a 'boom' and then a 'bust' around 2004. Now the values have gotten out of control again and are skyrocketing."

and again in November 2015 the same beliefs seem to hold on eBay:

"These cymbals are highly desirable and are selling for huge sums here on Ebay."This 2015 quote comes from the sale of an Old Stamp 16" 1011g which sold for $270 with 7 bids. In terms of condition it had one tiny crack at the bell hole (coloquially known as spider cracks or just spiders). So is that a "huge sum"? How does it compare with similar sales? Compared to similar sales in 2014 and 2015 this one sold for under the expected median value of $350.

Clearly these beliefs aren't consistent with the current evidence. If 22" Turkish made Ks were getting "above $3k" in 2008 and they are selling for under this in 2013-2015, then clearly they can't have been going up "50 or 100 bucks per month" in the interim.

There was this event called the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) which had an impact. There were certain influential people (Bill Hartrick who created the timeline for Turkish made K Zildjians among them) who expected that prices for Turkish made K Zildjians would go on rising at 20% per year despite the GFC. In 2007 Bill wrote:

"I bought my first old stamp 22" K in 1999 for $650. Today we see one up for auction that will reach $3000 or maybe even $4000. If you don't believe that, then just stick around until the end of the auction."This 20% appreciation didn't continue. The past is not always the best guide to the future. Using one sale as a starting point and one sale as an end point and drawing a straight line between them is not really a big enough sample for successful extrapolation. You are more likely to end up with something like this (thanks to xkcd , the internet comic for science geeks):"1999 was 8 years ago. And the difference between what I paid then vs. what this item is worth if we assume a $3000 value today... correcting for inflationary affects means that the actual appreciation would be around 20%."

"I didn't do the calculations that we arrived at when we first analyzed this...someone else did. I provided the data and he did the figuring. He was an accountant or something like that, so he was able to give us the most detailed explanation including the inflation factor. And he showed us in detail just how he arrived at his result. His result agrees pretty closely with what I've shown you here. So I still stand by that figure of about 20% per year."

"By the way...did you see what the stock market did yesterday? It dropped about 360 points. You know what my old K's did? They went up."

It may seem too easy to poke fun at historical predictions of 20% appreciation which didn't come to pass. However, there is a serious side to doing this. One contributing factor to overestimation (well documented in the general case -- this isn't just about cymbals) is media coverage. The effect of media coverage on price bubbles is discussed in The Wisdom of Crowds. In this case I'd say that the "media environment" includes asking prices on quality web sites like Steve Maxwell, Classic Vintage Drums, etc. Plus the media environment also includes all the online forums where there are Turkish K "experts" expressing opinions (but no data) on how fast prices are rising. Here is an article about just how far out people are at estimating something getting lots of media attention.

Another thing which leads to overestimation of prices is that some people think that you look on eBay (or the premier sites like Steve Maxwell and Classic Vintage Drums) for a couple of listings and get your idea of price from what people are asking. That isn't a sound way to do it. Asking isn't getting. You really need to look at completed sales. And you need to look at a number of completed sales to get any robust pricing information. People tend to focus on individual values, rather than the full distribution. Again, this is a general phenomenon not restricted to Turkish Ks or even cymbals. Actual selling prices are quite variable, and two Turkish Ks which are pretty much interchangeable (same diameter, stamp era, weight class, condition) might sell a day apart and one gets $600 and the other gets $1200. So yes, the median price might be $730, but the range includes much higher prices and much lower ones. And yes, your cymbal might sell for $1200, but that doesn't mean equivalent cymbals all sell for $1200.

Another reason people overestimate the expected prices of Turkish Ks is what is called confirmation bias. In a nutshell, if you don't record all the sales (or a representative sample) then you will selectively remember the more extreme values because they stick in your memory. For those who believe that Turkish Ks are going up in value all the time, they tend to "confirm" this belief system by remembering the highest prices. This is a well known phenomenon, and it is why collection of proper statistics is valuable to society. Now you could just claim that I'm suffering from "confirmation bias" myself since I'm a statistician and thus I remember the cases where the public beliefs about things are at variance with what is actually happening. But unless you are able to front up with lots of properly recorded data which shows my equations are poorly estimated, you are just adding more "evidence free" opinion into what I'm hoping will be an increasingly evidence based discussion.

Another contributing factor to people overestimating gains (and indirectly prices) is failure to include the cost of buying and selling when considering price. Sellers who sell on eBay pay 10% percent of the sales value plus the 10% of the domestic shipping cost. Usually the buyer pays the shipping cost, but the seller still pays eBay percentage of the shipping cost. So we are over 10% in buying and selling costs, and that's before PayPal starts taking their cut. When a cymbal is later sold for a higher amount, it is important to subtract the buying and selling costs from perceived "price increases". If Turkish made K Zildjian cymbals are being sold via other channels the fees are lower. But when they are sold through eBay unless you get maybe 15% more than you paid for the cymbal (including shipping) you haven't made any profit. eBay and PayPal ate your profit.

The final issue I'll mention is related to care in naming. The common nickname for Turkish made K Zildjian cymbals is "old Ks". But these come in different stamp eras and have significantly different expected prices. I believe part of what has happened to create misleading price expectations is people not being careful to distinguish "old Ks" from "Old Stamp Ks". Given what we know about the price difference between Old Stamp Turkish made K Zildjians (higher) and New and Intermediate Stamp prices, every time estimates of value are given you should ask yourself: was the person giving this figure careful to distinguish which cymbals they are talking about? And what is their sample size?

or back to the introduction page

text first published 28 Nov 2015 3:17 PM

text text last updated 1 Jan 2018 11:06 AM

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