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Valuing vintage Hornby




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#1 MarkSG

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 21:33

A friend of mine wishes to dispose of a collection of Hornby O gauge clockwork stuff from the 1950s. Looking at various online resale and auction sites, this kind of thing seems to go for anything from peanuts to sharp intake of breath territory. I presume that condition and rarity are the key factors in this.

 

Can anyone recommend a reliable way to get his collection valued? If it helps, he's based in West London.



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#2 Andy Hayter

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:05

As a general rule, unless in perfect condition (preferably still wrapped in the original tissue paper) and in a perfect box, prices will tend to be low.

 

For each defect (torn box, scratch on buffer beam, worn paintwork) deduct about 15-20% from the best price you have seen for the same model.  So torn box (1) plus a couple of scratches (1+1) plus worn paintwork (4 defects in total) value is going to be 20-40% of the best price.   It is a very rough and ready rule but still a good indication.

 

There will be of course a few exceptions where an item is extremely rare, but by the 50s such rarities were themselves rare - unlike pre-war items.


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#3 The Johnster

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 17:36

It's disheartening.  It is not uncommon, for people who have just found out that I 'do' model railways, for them to react with, 'oo, I've got a Hornby Tinplate (!) Duchess of Montrose somewhere in the attic, 3 rail and all, it must be worth something, they're very rare aren't they?  It's green, and it's got 2 coaches'.  My response usually triggers the reaction that I am trying to lower the price in a prelude to making a blag offer.

 

It's never a Bassett-Lowke or a 5 coach set of Exley GWR suburbans.  Strangely, people with Triang Black Princesses seem to already know they are next to worthless.  And in any case it's no good asking me; I know next to nothing about collecting.


Edited by The Johnster, 10 September 2017 - 17:37 .

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#4 jjb1970

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 17:49

The problem isn't that collectors won't buy less than perfect stuff, it is the price they'll pay. However it is all too typical for those from outside the hobby to see highly sought after stuff in mint condition, no wheel wear at all, immaculate packaging etc go for silly prices and assume that their own well used bread and butter stuff has the value of Faberge eggs. I'm a collector of brass HO and if you are a little flexible on stuff like box condition, foam and wheel wear it is surprising just how reasonable (affordable) a lot of Korean and Japanese brass is from importers like Overland, PFM, Challenger etc and European importers like Lemaco, Fulgurex and Metropolitan. However, if you want a particularly sought after item in "as new" with immaculate box, foam etc then prices can be ridiculous.
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#5 MarkSG

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 18:26

Yes, I'm well aware that condition et al is likely to be the key factor. However, I'm not qualified to judge that, and neither is my friend.

 

He isn't necessarily expecting to get much for it, and won't be disappointed if it isn't worth a lot. But he does need to have a reasonable idea of what he can expect, as he needs to know what to ask in order to avoid either pitching it far too high and not selling it, or pitching it far too low and potentially being ripped off by an unscrupulous buyer. Hence my question. 

 

What I was hoping for, and maybe should have been a bit clearer to begin with, is a recommendation for a second hand dealer, preferably in or near West London, who would be able to offer him a fair price for it (or even tell him it's not worth enough for them to bother taking it off his hands). Or, is there an Internet-based dealer who could give a reasonably informed opinion on the basis of some photos?



#6 Northmoor

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 20:26

It's disheartening.  It is not uncommon, for people who have just found out that I 'do' model railways, for them to react with, 'oo, I've got a Hornby Tinplate (!) Duchess of Montrose somewhere in the attic, 3 rail and all, it must be worth something, they're very rare aren't they?  It's green, and it's got 2 coaches'.  My response usually triggers the reaction that I am trying to lower the price in a prelude to making a blag offer.

 

It's never a Bassett-Lowke or a 5 coach set of Exley GWR suburbans.  Strangely, people with Triang Black Princesses seem to already know they are next to worthless.  And in any case it's no good asking me; I know next to nothing about collecting.

 

Funnily enough I think the uninitiated think any old model railways are valuable, yes, including Tri-ang Princesses.  I no longer laugh out loud at people listing these on eBay with some contemporary rolling stock in indifferent condition, as "rare and collectible", the joke has worn thin now.  I would love a predictive text feature which said "There are 70 items like yours listed right now", which might deter a few of them.  However there are a lot of eBay traders masquerading as private individuals who use all sorts of poor practices much worse than this.

 

I read a story once of a record dealer who was so fed up with people convinced their old Beatles vinyl was valuable (and that he was just trying it on with silly offers) that he kept a stack of the most common singles under the counter.  When an unbelieving customer came in and accused him of being a rip-off merchant, he would produce one of his stash and smash it with a hammer in front of them.  


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#7 AncientMariner

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 21:26

Quite a few years ago, I was watching a TV programme about collectors, which featured a guy who had bought a Hornby train set.  It was his intention to keep the set unopened and in its cellophane wrapping into perpetuity in the hope that it would become a collector’s item.  Each to his own, but I don’t see the fun in that.  

 

John


Edited by AncientMariner, 10 September 2017 - 21:26 .

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#8 JohnR

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 22:32

Ramsay's Guide contains valuations of Hornby O gauge as well as more modern stuff. It could give you a start.



#9 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 09:06

...Can anyone recommend a reliable way to get his collection valued?...

The print guide is a stake in the ground, for what particular items were going for when it was compiled. It'll definitely identify the super rare desireables which the collection (realistically) will not contain, and the common and therefore low value pieces, which are probably what the collection consists of.

 

If it indicates that one or more items fall into the intermediate zone of sufficient desireability to attract a price in two or three digits, then put those separately in a specialist auction, and see if the auction house will also take one or more mixed lots to dispose of the minimal value items. If it's all small value, try s/h dealers for a price on 'take the lot'.


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#10 dvdlcs

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 11:05

Veering off-topic:

 

I read a story once of a record dealer who was so fed up with people convinced their old Beatles vinyl was valuable (and that he was just trying it on with silly offers) that he kept a stack of the most common singles under the counter.  When an unbelieving customer came in and accused him of being a rip-off merchant, he would produce one of his stash and smash it with a hammer in front of them.  

 

That seems a little extreme. Think in that situation I'd produce the half dozen examples I already had and ask why I would want another one...



#11 Titan

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 11:37

Reminds me of a story that was told somewhere on one of the Hornby APT threads. Someone was on a demonstration stand at an exhibition carving up APT bodies to make intermediate trailers. An aghast onlooker exclaimed "If you knew how much those were worth you would not be doing that!" To which he got the reply "Since I bought these three sets two weeks ago I know exactly what they are worth!"


Edited by Titan, 11 September 2017 - 11:37 .

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#12 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 16:35

...I read a story once of a record dealer who was so fed up with people convinced their old Beatles vinyl was valuable (and that he was just trying it on with silly offers) that he kept a stack of the most common singles under the counter.  When an unbelieving customer came in and accused him of being a rip-off merchant, he would produce one of his stash and smash it with a hammer in front of them.  

...That seems a little extreme. Think in that situation I'd produce the half dozen examples I already had and ask why I would want another one...

Not a bit of it, that conveys conviction! The fact that they were worthless old records by bands no one had ever heard of, with fake labels applied, that was the real plot. I knew one such merchant...


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#13 brianusa

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 19:12

For most old Hornby items, E Bay will give you an idea of the price that similar items sold for, if indeed they actually sold.  Unless you are very lucky, the days of retiring on the profits of ones trains are long gone, if they ever existed.

 

Brian.


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#14 Nearholmer

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 17:07

And, Google 'the station masters rooms', and look through the prices that the proprietor is selling at.

Most postwar Hornby 0 is common, so that examples will pass through that dealer frequently enough to allow you to understand the price ranges.

Even nearly mint postwar Hornby 0 is pretty affordable, added to which it is a "falling market", because quite a few people are dispersing collections as they 'downsize' as they get on in years, and it isn't hugely sought-after by younger people.

In short, your friend may come away from this mildly disappointed.

The 'sharp intake of breath' stuff tends to be pre-war, and prices even in that area have 'softened' quite a bit in the past, say, five years, except for the very rarest in the very best condition. I follow this with interest, because there is one pre-war Hornby loco that I'd like to add to my railway, and I'm hoping that the prices will fall far enough to 'attract me in'!

Another thought is the HRCA. They run auctions for their members, and they might be able to field a person who is willing to take a look and suggest a value.

Kevin

Edited by Nearholmer, 12 September 2017 - 17:11 .

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#15 locomad

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 15:25

Following this thread with much interest as at the age now where I notice several members of clubs etc who have died recently or meet surviving relatives usually widows who tell us of the " problems" they have had over there late husband estate regarding model railway collections.

It's an very emotional issue, often compounded by the different way surviving relatives deal with a very upsetting death in the family, some just want to get rid straight away at any price, or others "shut the door" deal with it later attitude.

What I notice is collections and layouts are getting much larger, together with the magazines, books, tools, hopefully lawyers don't get involved but if they do they seem to want to make more money listing every little detail about the collection costing more that the article themselves.

Yes as mentioned the granddad's 3 rail Hornby dublo boxed set comes to light in the attic, but that easy to deal with, as most people compare its price on eBay and might sell it that way or even the trend now give it to a younger generation to enjoy playing with it.

It's the large permanent layout hidden in an attic or locked away in a garden shed, often incompleted left to decay for years and they do decay fast, with a massive unboxed or lost boxed stock of Hornby, Lima etc from the 80's, and range of unmade or part made kits from the time.

Surviving relatives tell you that there deceased spent thousands on it, many years building it, it must be worth "a lot", yes they have had enquiries, even maybe been "cherry picked" what they don't seem to take in is what is left takes a lot of time to sort, most is worth very little, it doesn't sell well, and its not popular.

#16 The Johnster

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 20:52

Like I said, disheartening.  Someone's life's labour of love and care, which cost many thousands if the man/hours are factored in, suddenly and insultingly shown to be worthless or near it.  It is perhaps incumbent on modellers who have reached the home straight and are heading for withdrawal from service and scrapping (which is a good proportion of us) to impress upon those who are going to be responsible for disposing of their railways that they are likely not to be worth very much in that form.  A model railway is a highly bespoke item fitted and built in to it's particular surroundings and unable to be easily transferred to another situation as a whole, and nobody wants models out of boxes to re-sell.  Even well known exhibition layouts often sell for less than £1k, without stock.

 

I live alone and fully expect my pride and joy to be house cleared and sent to landfill after I have gone to where it is of no further use to me.  Don't quite know where that is, but it must be brilliant; nobody's ever come back!



#17 brianusa

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 21:18

A similar fate befalls us; one goes to the grave, the other to the landfill or as we poetically call them over here, the dump!

Brian.

#18 The Johnster

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 00:08

There's no way out of it alive, Brian...


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#19 Northmoor

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 09:15

Following this thread with much interest as at the age now where I notice several members of clubs etc who have died recently or meet surviving relatives usually widows who tell us of the " problems" they have had over there late husband estate regarding model railway collections.

It's an very emotional issue, often compounded by the different way surviving relatives deal with a very upsetting death in the family, some just want to get rid straight away at any price, or others "shut the door" deal with it later attitude.

What I notice is collections and layouts are getting much larger, together with the magazines, books, tools, hopefully lawyers don't get involved but if they do they seem to want to make more money listing every little detail about the collection costing more that the article themselves.

Yes as mentioned the granddad's 3 rail Hornby dublo boxed set comes to light in the attic, but that easy to deal with, as most people compare its price on eBay and might sell it that way or even the trend now give it to a younger generation to enjoy playing with it.

It's the large permanent layout hidden in an attic or locked away in a garden shed, often incompleted left to decay for years and they do decay fast, with a massive unboxed or lost boxed stock of Hornby, Lima etc from the 80's, and range of unmade or part made kits from the time.

Surviving relatives tell you that there deceased spent thousands on it, many years building it, it must be worth "a lot", yes they have had enquiries, even maybe been "cherry picked" what they don't seem to take in is what is left takes a lot of time to sort, most is worth very little, it doesn't sell well, and its not popular.

 

A very accurate description, locomad.  My sister and I dread the day we have to dispose of our Dad's books, magazines and models.  The models might be <cough> found a home but I am unlikely to ever have space for the railway book collection (let alone any of the other books).

 

Much of my own model collection is also of this era, so much was bought in the 80s and 90s - often secondhand - and it's possibly worth what we paid for it and no more, but I do have a rough idea what it is worth and it's surprisingly little.  I notice now, in my regular eBay surfing sessions, how many model train listings now get no bids, I suspect because there are so many ridiculous starting prices being quoted for what is just old tat.

 

There is a wider issue here that the general public believe that everything eventually becomes valuable just because it's old.  Just like watching Antiques Roadshow every week isn't going to make you an antiques expert, seeing a few old models sold for big money won't make you an expert in valuing model railway collections.  Extending the AR analogy, you only get to see the interesting and valuable items on screen.  You don't get to see the people who come with Nana's brasses or Collector Plates, who know thousands was spent over the years and are stunned to realise it's all worth £20 (and that's if you weigh in the brass and throw most of the plates in a skip).  


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#20 Nearholmer

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 10:47

AR featured a chest full of old 0 gauge trains a year or two back, and you should have seen the discussion about possible value that that provoked on the "old trains" forum! That forum has some serious collectors and experts, and they couldn't agree even the sort of indicative price that one would put in an auction catalogue.

Layouts and trains are a different kettle of fish when it comes to values. Because, as someone said above, layouts are bespoke to site, they are effectively value-less when put up for sale; even portable ones and dioramas seem to be totally unpredictable in price. At least trains are readily portable, and there is a 'market' in being that gives some register of price.
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#21 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 11:39

...What I notice is collections and layouts are getting much larger...

 The torrent of better quality OO models at relatively modest prices, that the UK enjoyed from 2000 to about 2012, is going to begin 'resurfacing' in earnest sometime fairly soon. That's my assessment based on the average age of customers frequenting model shops during this period. (I well recall one very amiable gent who had ordered such quantities of Bachmann's products that had literally arrived 'all in one go' that two of us customers in the shop helped him and a staff member move the heap of loot to his car, since he could in no way carry it unassisted.) I anticipate that this will have an 'interesting' effect on what new OO RTR product can be sold for, let alone s/h prices.


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#22 hayfield

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 12:27

A very accurate description, locomad.  My sister and I dread the day we have to dispose of our Dad's books, magazines and models.  The models might be found a home but I am unlikely to ever have space for the railway book collection (let alone any of the other books).
 
Much of my own model collection is also of this era, so much was bought in the 80s and 90s - often secondhand - and it's possibly worth what we paid for it and no more, but I do have a rough idea what it is worth and it's surprisingly little.  I notice now, in my regular eBay surfing sessions, how many model train listings now get no bids, I suspect because there are so many ridiculous starting prices being quoted for what is just old tat.
 
There is a wider issue here that the general public believe that everything eventually becomes valuable just because it's old.  Just like watching Antiques Roadshow every week isn't going to make you an antiques expert, seeing a few old models sold for big money won't make you an expert in valuing model railway collections.  Extending the AR analogy, you only get to see the interesting and valuable items on screen.  You don't get to see the people who come with Nana's brasses or Collector Plates, who know thousands was spent over the years and are stunned to realise it's all worth £20 (and that's if you weigh in the brass and throw most of the plates in a skip).



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Given the numbers of traders making a living, the secondhand market is alive and kicking. True most magazines and books have little value. But a friend who is disposeing another friends collection had been pleasantly been surprised at the amount made

Certainly kits and kit built items when well presented fetch good and high prices, similarly poorly described items can go for a song
One way to assist those disposing of a valuable item is to leave a full description
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#23 jjb1970

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 13:51

You can't put a value on some things.

 

I have some of my late fathers measuring instruments, they were bought by him in the late 50's during his apprenticeship and saw him through to the end of his life (albeit supplemented by metric instruments later). I have a collection of vintage drawing instruments, I wouldn't say I collect them but over the years I've picked up a few items just because I admire the craftsmanship and aesthetic beauty of them. In both cases I know that when the time comes for them to be passed on they're essentially valueless and that assumes my offspring even find somebody that'd want them (is there a market for old imperial vernier scale instruments?). For me, I love them and would be loathe to part with them.

 

My model trains are the same, they have immense value to me but I'm under no illusions that they're some sort of pension fund or that they'll be a treasure horde for whoever has to sort out my estate. Some of them probably will sell for a reasonable price, but I also paid a more than reasonable price for them (my brass stuff) and so in terms of net gain I suspect they're well negative. As with any collection, collect what you love for the pleasure it brings you and if value goes up all well and good but that's not what you should be driven by. Especially as values can collapse almost overnight.

 

None of which helps somebody clearing an estate. In terms of putting a price on things, trawling EBay is a free and relatively easy way to do it and probably as accurate as any of the alternatives.


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#24 The Johnster

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 18:10

In the case of a large layout or collection, but especially the layout, we might be talking about a hundred locos, say five times that in coaches, and at least ten times that in wagons, dating back over perhaps 40 or 50 years and in variable condition.  1,600 items to catalogue, fairly price, and describe, at a time when the person left to do it is grief stricken and struggling to cope.  Most people are going to want to get rid of it as a job lot when they realise it's limited liquidity, and one or both of two things are likely to happen; one, they will be ripped off, and two, the bulk of the collection will go to landfill after a few items have been cherry picked and knocked out on eBay. 

 

I would be unwilling to do this sort of valuation and selling of someone else's stuff for a friend or relative; I am fortunate in having no living relatives likely to put me in the situation.  It is a lot of work and I'd rather be modelling, plus you are under some pressure and have a responsibility to get the best deal for them; pressure and responsibility are not the first words you think of when you enumerate Johnster's strengths!  I recently disappointed a friend whose uncle had passed leaving a large collection of mostly GWR stuff when I stated that I wasn't interested in it even as a gift, as I have most of what I need and there was unlikely to be anything of much use to me amongst the Castles, Kings, and Pullmans.  When I showed her my own BLT, and explained the lack of storage space and opportunity to use the stuff, that I was for instance trying to replace cruder older models with better modern ones, and plastic wheels with metal, and did not fancy taking on a load of older stuff to be upgraded, she understood and has forgiven me, but it was an awkward situation that I didn't particularly like being in.

 

AFAIK this collection, which I never saw and may well have been misjudging, has gone to a house clearer for next to nothing, and may indeed not be worth much.


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#25 locomad

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 19:19

The torrent of better quality OO models at relatively modest prices, that the UK enjoyed from 2000 to about 2012, is going to begin 'resurfacing' in earnest sometime fairly soon. That's my assessment based on the average age of customers frequenting model shops during this period. (I well recall one very amiable gent who had ordered such quantities of Bachmann's products that had literally arrived 'all in one go' that two of us customers in the shop helped him and a staff member move the heap of loot to his car, since he could in no way carry it unassisted.) I anticipate that this will have an 'interesting' effect on what new OO RTR product can be sold for, let alone s/h prices.


I'am not too sure, I agree with you in theory they should be a glut of models made in this period as the buyers or their relatives start selling stuff off.

My doubts are based on experience of these models I've quite a few myself, some hardy used still in box, problem is they are firstly not durable I've had problems with mazak rot, wheels de-quartering, fragile bits falling, gears not meshing.

Secondly they are not easy to repair, parts are differcult or impossible to buy, use them on the layout the odd one suffers a derailment things easy break, not so easy to fix

Once enthusiasts get to know a certain manufacturer or model has a common problem, the models can become worthless, good example of this years ago was a well known make of "N" locos with a spilt worm gear, rarely seen 2nd hand because none work and differcult to fix. It would be interesting to see what hattons Garrett only 200 made will be worth in years to come

Reason why even tatty bashed about examples of Hornby "O" &, Hornby Dublo still fetch reasonable prices, they still work, easy to repair, easy to strip paint and repaint, you might not get much but you will get something






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