Your Old Magazine Could Be Worth $50,000 – Or More. Here’s How to Sell It
Are your old magazines worth anything? Find out with the definitive guide to selling magazinesHave you kept your favorite issue of Sports Illustrated for decades? Stumbled upon a box of old National Geographic editions in Grandma’s attic? Found your dad’s long-lost stash of Playboy? Wonder if those old magazines are worth anything? Here, we show you what makes magazines valuable, how to determine their values, and where to sell them.
- The most valuable magazines in the world
- What makes a magazine valuable?
- How to tell how much your magazines are worth
- Where to sell old magazines
- Magazine selling tips
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The most valuable magazines in the worldMost magazines are worth between $5 and $20, though some are quite valuable. Here are estimated values and real-world sale prices for a selection of notable magazines.
|Playboy V1 #1 (Marilyn Monroe) Mint Condition||Up to $635,000|
|Beeton’s Christmas Annual 1887 (Sherlock Holmes)||Up to $156,000|
|Playboy V1 #1 (Marilyn Monroe) Good Condition||Up to $2,100|
|Sports Illustrated Nov. 29, 1963 (Roger Staubach)||Up to $1,800|
|Monster Parade #1||Sold for $1,180|
|MAD #9 Twin Cities 8.0 1954||Sold for $940|
|Popular Science August 1931||Sold for $750|
|The New Yorker V1 #1 1925||Sold for $450|
|Famous Monsters of Filmland #1||Sold for $375|
|National Geographic April 1913 (Machu Picchu)||Sold for $300|
Before you start building your mansion, know that it’s highly unlikely you have a Playboy – or any magazine – in mint condition. In fact, Nostomania states it’s unaware of any magazine issue that has ever been graded at a perfect mint 10.0 condition. The site uses a baseline of 9.4 (near mint) to create its list of the 100 most valuable magazines, and even then states that many of the magazines on the list do not exist in that high of a grade.
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What makes a magazine valuable?Simply put, a magazine’s value is determined by how much someone will pay for it. Unlike many fields, magazines aren’t typically purchased to add to a “magazine collection,” but as secondary pieces for a primary collection. For example, Beeton’s Christmas Annual 1887 isn’t prized because it’s a Christmas edition of Beeton’s, but because it’s the first time Sherlock Holmes appeared on a printed page (Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study of Scarlet”). Thus, this issue is valuable to people who collect Sherlock Holmes. “Look for magazines that have content that is collected in other fields,” says appraiser John Henley. “Sherlock Holmes book collectors desire copies of the Strand Magazine that ran the stories before they were published as books. Some science fiction collectors want pulp magazines or even science fiction digest magazines with first appearances by Philip K. Dick or Frank Herbert. You have to explore the markets for all kinds of collectibles to understand what magazines will likely fetch higher amounts of money.” Source: Wikimedia Commons Characteristics that contribute to magazine value include:
- First literary appearances
- Edition (first editions can be valuable)
- Popular culture
- Artistic merit
- Current trends
- Historic events
- Cover art
- Featured celebrities and sports stars
- Misprints and mistakes
- Certification status (f the magazine has been certified by a qualified appraiser)
- Signatures and inscriptions
- Niche/collectible interest
- Complete collections
What about those boxes of National Geographic? “Even low-value magazines such as National Geographic – sorry to all those who have stacks of them – have back cover Coca-Cola ads that are prized, especially those with Santa Claus,” Cole says. When it comes to magazines, there are no rules for what makes a given issue valuable to one person and not another. One person might want a National Geographic issue because it features a destination they once visited, while another might be interested in a Rolling Stones issue because it features the Beatles on the cover. Yet another person might want a given magazine because it was published on their birthday or wedding day.
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How to tell how much your magazines are worthDespite so many variables, you have several options for determining magazine values. Start by understanding what, exactly, you have.
Know what you haveBegin by listing everything you know about your magazine, including:
- Date, edition, and volume
- Notable articles or writers
- Featured celebrities or sports stars
- Cover art, interior artwork, and photography
- Articles and content
- Notable advertisements
|10.0||Gem Mint||Absolutely perfect condition, as though it was never handled|
|9.9||Mint||Nearly perfect. Subtle flaws only. Sharp corners. No creasing, tearing, or browning|
|9.8||Near Mint/Mint||A few very minor flaws. Sharp corners. No creasing, tearing, or browning|
|9.6||Near Mint+||Minor imperfections. Appears unread. No creasing or tearing. Pages could be slightly off-white|
|9.4||Near Mint||Minor imperfections.Appears as though it was read once or twice. No creasing or tearing, except very minor bindery tears|
|9.2||Near Mint–||Minor imperfections. Appears as though it was read a few times. Corners may have minor blunting. A single minor crease is allowed|
|9.0||Very Fine/Near Mint||Appears carefully handled. Limited number of flaws. Corners may show minor wear. Cover may have minor wear|
|8.5||Very Fine+||Similar to 9.0, but might have lightly tanned pages and a small tear|
|8.0||Very Fine||Minor handling wear. Minor cover soiling. Small piece may be missing. Small cover crease allowed|
|7.5||Very Fine–||Minor handling wear. Slightly discolored pages. Limited number of bindery/printing flaws. Small cover crease and minor soiling|
|7.0||Fine/Very Fine||Above average with minor wear. Blunted corners. Slightly faded cover, minor creases, soiling, and wear|
|6.5||Fine+||Above average with minor wear. Tanned pages. Small staple tears and discoloration|
|6.0||Fine||Above average with minor wear. Minor to moderate cover creases. Loose centerfold|
|5.5||Fine||Above average with minor wear. Appears to have been read several times. Spine may have small split with color breaks. Small piece may be missing|
|5.0||Very Good/Fine||Average used copy. Appears to have been ready many times. Moderate spine roll or split. Missing corner triangle. Cover wear|
|4.5||Very Good+||Average used copy with significant wear. Cover may have subscription crease. Cover soiling. Page discoloration. Minor tears|
|4.0||Very Good||Similar to 4.5, but centerfold may be loose and detached at one staple|
|3.5||Very Good–||Additional tearing, creasing, and color breaks allowed. Centerfold may be detached. Slightly rounded corners|
|3.0||Good/Very Good||Significant wear, yet still complete. Rounded corners. Additional tearing, creasing, and color breaks|
|2.5||Good+||Significant wear, yet still complete. Small corner or edge piece may be missing|
|2.0||Good||Significant wear, yet still complete. Little to no reflectivity left on cover. Cover and centerfold may be detached|
|1.8||Good–||Very rough, yet still complete|
|1.5||Fair/Good||Very rough, appears as though it wasn’t cared for, yet still complete|
|1.0||Fair||Very heavy wear, yet still includes a cover|
|0.5||Poor||Very heavy wear, missing cover|
|0.3||Incomplete||Portions of the magazine are missing|
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CGC charges anywhere from $28 to $77 per graded magazine, though those price tiers have limits to how much your magazine can be worth to qualify. PastPaper.com also offers magazine grading services, though no price is listed. Keep in mind that grading and appraising are two different services. Grading simply tells you what condition your magazine is in; a seasoned appraiser can tell you how much it’s worth. Auction houses, bookstores, and antique stores might also be able to assist with assessing the condition of your magazines.
How to determine how much your magazine is worthOnce you know what magazine you have and its condition, you can use several tools to determine how much it’s worth. Nostomania One of the most comprehensive online resources for magazine values, Nostomania gives magazine values based on real-world sales and its own algorithm. Pricing is as low as $2.99 per month, though it comes with a free trial. Its database offers pricing for 195 different magazines, so it’s worth giving the free trial a go to see if they offer values for your magazine. Antique Trader’s Vintage Magazines An exceptional guide to magazine values as well as extensive information on what makes magazines valuable, including “sleepers” that might surprise. You can find the paperback for less than $10, or buy an ebook copy for around $20. The book was published in 2005, so the values aren’t necessarily up-to-date, but you can get a good idea for what your magazines might be worth and the background information is pure gold for collectors and sellers. eBay What better way to see how much money you can get for your magazine than to see how much similar copies have recently sold for? Search for your magazine on eBay, then check the left sidebar box to show only sold listings. Now, you can scroll through the results to see how much your issue has recently sold for. Pay attention to conditions!
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2Neat Magazines 2Neat specializes in Life magazines; browse or search for your issue to see how much they’re selling it for. You can also check out its second site for issues of LOOK, Saturday Evening Post, and Liberty. Have it appraised More valuable magazines often require the help of an appraiser, who might charge $250 per hour or more, with a total fee ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on the amount of research and travel required. Having your magazines appraised will give you the best idea of their values. However, appraisals can be expensive and are best-reserved for magazines you know are valuable. Your best bet is to first research your magazine online, and if it appears to be very valuable you can enlist the services of an appraiser.
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Where to sell old magazinesOnce you know how much your magazine is worth, you have a variety of selling options. eBay The online auction site is a popular place to sell magazines for a variety of reasons. First, you’re typically selling directly to collectors, so you’re able to get a good price (whereas dealers must buy at a lower price so they can profit from markups). Second, the auction format can drive up prices for in-demand issues and collections – even above retail market value, which can help offset the cost of eBay’s seller fees (10% with a maximum of $750). Etsy Etsy might not be the first site that comes to mind when you think about selling magazines, but the service boasts a robust community of magazine buyers and sellers – particularly for vintage issues. Again, you’re selling directly to collectors, but without an auction format. Fees are $0.20 per listing, plus 6.75% in transaction and payment processing fees. Abe Books Though primarily an online bookstore, Abe Books has a large “magazines and periodicals” category. You can list your magazines for sale on their store for $25 per month (plus an 8% commission fee and 3.5% to 5.5% payment processing fee).
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Used bookstores and antique stores You can sell your magazines directly to dealers, which could help you earn a quick sale but likely won’t net you the most cash, since they must profit from resale. Still, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of listing your magazines online, visiting flea markets and antiques shows, or waiting for your magazine to sell, you can probably cash in quickly at used bookstores and flea markets. Try FleaQuest to find antique stores, and use IndieBound or Biblio to find independent used bookstores. AntiqueMalls.com is an excellent resource for finding antique malls. Trussel.com also has a nice list of bookstores by specialty. Pawn shops Some pawn shops will buy old magazines. Like dealers, they must profit from resale so you won’t get the most money for your collection. The trade-off is you’ll get fast cash – if your local pawn shop is an interested buyer. Find pawn shops near you on PawnFyndr, PawnShops.net, and Pawn Shop Listings.
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Magazine selling tipsThese tips will help you get the most money for old magazines:
- Keep magazines in pristine condition: store them in acid-free plastic and out of sunlight in dry, fair temperatures. As Ferry puts it, “Damp basements and overheated attics are the worst places to store these fragile paper items.”
- Conduct your research: Do your best to understand what you have, what condition it is in, and what it might be worth before you try to sell it.
- Have it appraised and certified: If your magazine is valuable, getting it certified by a respected authority can make it worth even more.
- Know your buyers: Consider every possible reason someone might want to buy your magazine. Sorenson says: “A friend of mine sells books and magazines online. With magazines, in his descriptions he mentions several of those articles that he thinks might still be topical and includes many pictures of the visual aspects that might capture a buyer’s attention. Someone might buy an issue of Life because it has his birth date. Another person might buy that same issue because it has a cover picturing General MacArthur, while someone else might buy that same magazine because it as a nice color ad of an antique care that they have restored. Each one of those buyers might not pay the same price for what they want.”
Though it’s true most magazines are worth very little, it’s also true that even low-value magazines can add up; after all, a stack of 100 National Geographic issues valued at $5 each is still worth $500. Use the resources in this article to determine how much your magazines are worth and find buyers so you can turn Dad’s old stash into cash.
Sell your old magazinesPeople often ask us who to contact about selling their old magazines. These stores are good places to start. They buy old magazines and will often provide quotes when you accurately describe what you have.
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