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Starett 123 Vernier Calipers - Unusual MA Athol Location Stamp

Toor

Plastic
Joined
Nov 27, 2022
I have noticed on E-Bay that there are often an unusually large amount of Starett 123MZ-6 Vernier calipers that are labelled as new and have a price that is usually half of all the others What these calipers all have in common is suspicious Athol, Mass, USA stamping on them. It looks like this:

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For reference, below is what I have seen on the really old vintage units (identified by having hex screws instead of the flathead screws on the head), as well as all the unit I saw in person bought a long time ago by an old machinist. It's also what is shown in all the official photos as well as legit online distributors, and all the regularly priced (i.e. expensive) listing on E-Bay. The more expensive the E-Bay listing, the more likely it is to have the marking of the photo below and the cheaper the E-Bay listing the more likely it is to have the marking in the photo above.

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Does anyone know more about this? Is this just a modern production change? Or rejects being put on the market? Counterfeits? I haven't handled any freshly manufactured units so I don't know what those look like. This difference also only seems to be for the metric/inch model (there are essentially no cheaply priced, inch only or metric only units on E-Bay, especially new ones).
 

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I have noticed on E-Bay that there are often an unusually large amount of Starett 123MZ-6 Vernier calipers that are labelled as new and have a price that is usually half of all the others What these calipers all have in common is suspicious Athol, Mass, USA stamping on them. It looks like this:

View attachment 433680
For reference, below is what I have seen on the really old vintage units (identified by having hex screws instead of the flathead screws on the head), as well as all the unit I saw in person bought a long time ago by an old machinist. It's also what is shown in all the official photos as well as legit online distributors, and all the regularly priced (i.e. expensive) listing on E-Bay. The more expensive the E-Bay listing, the more likely it is to have the marking of the photo below and the cheaper the E-Bay listing the more likely it is to have the marking in the photo above.

View attachment 433681
Does anyone know more about this? Is this just a modern production change? Or rejects being put on the market? Counterfeits? I haven't handled any freshly manufactured units so I don't know what those look like. This difference also only seems to be for the metric/inch model (there are essentially no cheaply priced, inch only or metric only units on E-Bay, especially new ones).
I bought that model of Starrett Master Vernier Caliper on eBay a year or so ago. Let me look in to its details, probably tomorrow at the earliest.

David
 
I bought that model of Starrett Master Vernier Caliper on eBay a year or so ago. Let me look in to its details, probably tomorrow at the earliest.

David
Sure. Also do you find the slider tight? Seems to be me all the Starett 123 sliders are so tight and don't move smoothly at all. Makes it impossible to move in fine increments. Nothing at all like the much cheaper, more standard Mitutoyos calipers or even no-names. I would have expected a lot more from $1k+ calipers.
 
It looks super suspicious. The haloing around the characters looks like a secondary laser engraving, the strange drop caps only used in 'Mass' but not 'ATHOL' and most importantly, the heavy discount and sourcing from eBay. Obviously pirates target easy to manufacture stuff with tons of margin, calipers are one of the top targets (ask Mitutoyo.) If you want to know if it is really Starrett ask their counterfeit team, or be sensible and buy from a reliable distributor.

As far as rejects, how could it possibly make any sense for a reject to go through multiple manufacturing stage checks and get all the way to completion (the failure rate of something they've been making this long at the final inspection is going to be extremely low) and then be expensively packaged in a wooden box and dumped at rock bottom prices onto the market where it will undercut the 'good' products and simultaneously give a bad customer experience of the brand when the defects are found? That's just cope talking.
 
I bought my 123 EMZ-6 from that same seller in November 2022, paid $229.99. Engraving/marking at the end of the bar is as you show. The top four lines seem to be truly engraved; they are ever so slightly below the surface. The "ATHOL, MASS. U.S.A." feels slightly granular and above the surface, sorta like the markings on Hardinge 5C collets of current vintage. (It's a mystery to me why I didn't particularly notice this before.)

There's not really anything other than this marking that seems askew about this tool. I also have the inch-only 6 inch Master Vernier Caliper, bought new in 2012 for $262.50. The seller was in Ontario, Canada, probably via ebay but I'm not certain of that. Its markings at the end of the bar are of the style of your second example. In terms of quality of build, type faces of the engraving and so forth this 6-inch caliper and the EMZ-6 seem quite similar. The knurling on both is nicely done. The wooden case is nice enough, included was the usual Starrett "Inspection Certificate."

The sliding action on my inch-only is quite smooth, the 123 EMZ-6 has a bit of slip-stick.

I see the seller says over 17 sold and 10 are available. Another seller seems to have the same thing, new with wood case and all, for $99.00 (!), 5 sold and 3 available. Unfortunately this seller's photos have the end of the bar covered.

A third seller has a similar/same thing on offer for $219.95, apparently has only one. Bar-end engraving on this one is "proper".

I really bought this as a rather extravagant slide-caliper to quickly check metric fasteners, metric stock, metric hex-keys, well anything that's apt to be metric rather than inch sized.

David
 
Counterfeits can be extremely well made and can work great, it's up to you whether you care or not. There are a lot of people out there with fake watches that are perfectly happy with them, I don't begrudge that as long as the buyer understands what they are getting. But again, large quantities of items being sold for less than half price on eBay is a pretty clear indication of fraud. Just from a logical standpoint of wholesale prices it's clear that these are in all probability fake. As I said, Starrett will know what the counterfeits look like, if you really care, they are the resource you need to engage.
 
I did e-mail Starett the photos and the rep said that they had no reports of counterfeits and that when they looked at E-Bay, they didn't see anything funny. But they didn't really offer a satisfying explanation for why the location stamp was so janky. Their response to that was "Appears to be an etching typo. They may have tried changing the order or mistakenly did that.".

I ordered a few and of the ones that have arrived so far, other than the stamp, the are indistinguishable from the other ones I have which all have regular stamps and came in non-foam lined wood boxes (indicating they are older) and sometimes have hex screws instead of flat heads indicating they are older still.

They even have the same divot on the back of the slide whose purpose I do not know, as matching stamped numbers at the end of the slide and on the inside of the jaw when you remove it. If they're counterfeits, they're really good and someone dropped the ball real hard messing up as minor that stamp.

Unfortunately, they are so identical to the ones I have that they also have that issue where they are tighter than it seems they should be and therefore do not slide as smoothly as I would expect.
 
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