What are they?
Small black plastic cartridges that contain games for the Sinclair Spectrum.
What do they do? Allow
Spectrum 16k and 48k users to load games instantly without any waiting
around. Used in conjunction with Sinclair's Interface Two peripheral,
the idea was to allow the Spectrum to compete with games consoles that
were becomming popular in the early 80s.
When were they originally
released? The Interface
Two and three Sinclair-branded, cartridges from Psion were officially
launched in September 1983. These were. A further seven Sinclair-branded
cartridges featuring games from Psion, Ultimate and Melbourne House were
released in December 1983. These were
Was this product a success? Er, no. For starters the entrie software
available was a straight rerelease of existing titles, but with a £14.95
price tag. This deterred many buyers, particularly as tape versions typically
cost £5.95. The fact that blank cartridges had to be ordered in
batches of 1,000 also deterred software companies from releasing software
in this format. As John Gilbert wrote in Sinclair User in 1984, the ROM
cartridge market was very immature and unestablished and making an order
of this quanitity a risky business, even for a company as established
as Melbourne House or Psion. Unsurprisngly, none of the ten original releases
sold well in the cartridge format and despite much talk of further software,
it never materialised. Within a year of its release, the Interface Two,
along with the cartridges, had been consigned to the dustbin of computing
How rare are these cartridges?
Due to the low quantities produced and sold, Sinclair Spectrum Rom
cartridges are highly sought after and collectable.
What factors affect the price of these items? It all depends on
the title, the condition of the box, whether the original instructions
are present and, crucially, whether the red protective skirt is intact.
The latter detail can make a big difference to the final price.
Where can I buy or sell Rom cartridges? Without doubt, the best
place is on eBay
UK. Don't bother with the other auction sites like QXL, they simply
doesn't attract the same volume of buyers and sellers. It's also worth
trying the World
of Spectrum Wanted forum, as buyers often make pleas for cartridges
and sellers sometimes look to sell them for a fair price before placing
them on eBay.
How much can I buy or sell a Rom cartridge for? Starting with the
basic cartridge, without a box or instructions, these have a value of
between £5 and £15. Add the box (even a slightly tatty one)
and original instructions and you are looking at between £20 and
£30. For a mint condition cartridge complete with instructions and
red rubber skirt, the price can sometimes go to £40 and beyond.
But this is the exception rather than the rule. Ultimate titles tend to
fetch higher prices than the others, although the Psion releases like
Planetoids, Space Raiders, Chess and Backgammon were the least popular
and can therefore fetch high prices due to their scarcity.
Are prices rising or falling?
Despite increasing numbers of
Rom cartridges appearing on eBay,
demand remains high and prices remain stable. If two or three bidders
are competing in an auction for the same cartridge, the final price can
often go through the roof. But it's also worth considering that most bidders
are Spectrum enthusiasts keen to complete their collections. As these
gaps are filled in coming years, competition will become less fierce for
these items, and prices will almost certainly fall from their current
level. However, if you can pick ROM cartridges up in good condition for
between £10 and
£15 they should
make you a decent return for a few years to come
Tips for sellers:
If selling on eBay,
make sure you include a well-composed and clear digital photography showing
the actual cartridge plus box and instructions, if they are available.
If the box is damaged, don't attempt your own repairs with sticky tape,
as buyers prefer to keep everything authentic. Removing an old price label
stuck to the front can also increase the aesthetic appeal of a Rom cartridge,
but be very careful when doing this. It's better to leave it on, rather
than damage the box. Personally, I have found that adding a bit of water
and gently rubbing the label with my finger gets good results. Selling
Rom cartridges as a job lot doesn't seem to increase the total value and
in many cases you can make more by listing them individually. However,
a complete collection of all 10 Rom cartridges would probably fetch as
much as £400 if
all games were present and correct. If you do decide to sell a collection
of ROM cartridges, it's worth taking individual photographs of each and
then paying a little extra to display each one with your eBay
listing. It's also worth considering that even an empty Rom cartridge
box or original instructions are attractive to buyers, who may be missing
these. In the past, I have sold a JetPac box in excellent condition with
the bare circuitboard of the Rom cartridge for £11 on eBay.
for buyers: If you are in the business of collecting Rom cartridges,
don't expect to get any bargains. These items hardly ever turn up at car
boot sales in any type of decent condition. Interest remains high in these
items and bidding on eBay
is always competitive, even for cartridges without boxes or instructions.
But there are a few tricks and tips you can employ to help you win auctions
and snatch the odd good deal.
For starters, some listings on eBay
don't have pictures, which deters some bidders and sometimes results in
a lower final selling price. In cases like this, it's often worth emailing
the seller and asking for confirmation of the state of the cartridge and
box and whether the instructions are included. You may find it's just
what you are looking for. Also watch for auctions that finish at odd times,
such as the early hours of the morning. If you are willing to get up early
and place a late bid near the finishing time, you may be able to land
an item with little competition. Another good tip is to use the Opera
browser, which allows bids to be placed faster than Microsoft Internet
Explorer. This is useful if you are trying to sneak in a crafty bid just
seconds before the auction finishes.
Finally, it's always worth emailing a seller to see if they have any further
cartridges available for sale. This can be a good tactic if a cartridge
has sold for a price that's below the market average. To avoid eBay's
fees and the hassle of listing the item, they may be willing to sell cartridges
to you for a similar low price. Also look for auctions for Rom cartridges
that have finished without a bidder and make the seller a fairly low offer.
You may be able to come to some arrangement.
THE PRICES OF SINCLAIR SPECTRUM ROM CARTRIDGES SELLING ON EBAY.
THE PRICES OF OTHER SINCLAIR SPECTRUM ITEMS SELLING ON EBAY.