E88CC, used Diamond base < > tubes re-printed and re-packed in 100pcs boxes
BEFORE YOU READ THE REST: This here is my personal opinion, based upon my personal findings, with tubes that I was offered myself. It is nothing more than that, and it is not intended to discredit people who have another opinion. Please see the following text that way.
At the moment, with NOS tubes getting rarer and rarer, and the tube users community growing so enormously, and greedy people outbid each other on auction sites to buy crap for high prices.... what else did you expect.
Personally I call such tubes also fakes, because the faking is here to make you believe you buy new tubes, but what you are getting are used tubes. Re-printed extremely nice but with some mistakes, and packed in new boxes. This may be going on since quite a while, since the moment I discovered it myself, is likely not the moment it started at the same time. Also I was offered several time before E88CC in boxes of hundred pcs. First time was in 2009 from France. After that most offers were from the countries around the Slovak Republic.
To say it upfront, I am convinced the person who sold me those tubes was not aware. I was able to return the tubes without any problem. He bought them from another dealer, he told me, and via this dealer we were offered replacement tubes, in multiple quantities of 100 .Though I decided not to be send any replacements, I could withdraw from the deal, which is what I did.
From the outside, the 100pcs box looked original. Tape around it was smeared and old. The contents at the inside, the TFK tube boxes, were crispy as new. Now this can happen with NOS tubes. However what made me curious, the pins of the tubes inside showed they were inserted in a tube socket at least 10 times. But... again this can happen with NOS tubes as well. Some army divisions had regulations to re-test all tubes in stock once a year. Can you imagine how a solder treats the boxes, when he has to test 10.000 tubes with a Hickok? How will such a tube lot look like after 20years. Like a mess. I had often such tubes, and you need to accept the worn out boxes. So ASSUMING the boxes were re-opened 10 times, for series testing, some of the flaps had to show some signs of this. Besides the tubes were full of sticky fingerprints that I had to wipe off. So they have been handled a lot of times. How come they are packed in those crisp looking boxes. This was extremely suspicious to me.
Next thing was the printing. It was a bit darker than normal, as with used tubes. Then, while wiping off these kind of "fat" finger prints that were all over, I noticed I did not have to be careful at all with the printing. That is curious, because with NOS TFK, the printing is always soft, and smears immediately. You need to heat up the tubes in the tester first, and then the paint sort if re-bakes and the "soft" effect goes away. After that you can carefully wipe the tube for cleaning. However these didn't seem to need that. Very strange. The print was very stabile. After investigating this further, I noted the paint was water proof. (Same as with JJ tubes). Well these are the first TFK I see in my life with water proof paint.
Also the paint color is wrong. It is a darker, very stabile water proof paint, and not this typical easy to smear white paint.
Then came the testing. A disaster it was. They appeared all to be in the 50... 80% range. Most curious also, the differences between two triodes in one bulb were huge. This often indicates used tubes. The greater part did not pass the tube test on my Amplitrex AT1000.
With the date coding something very strange caught my attention. I put it together in this picture.