You may have a stack of old magazines in your garage and have thought of throwing them away. Before you dispose of those old periodicals, you might want to do a little investigation to find out how much old magazines are worth. Some old periodicals can be worth literally a fortune.
A growing number of people like Dr. Steven Lomazow, a neurologist from New Jersey, specialize in collecting old magazines. Dr. Lomazow wrote American Periodicals: A Collector’s Manual and Reference Guide in 1996 and it remains one of the best reference books for people who want to get started in the hobby. Many magazine collectors belong to the American Antiquarian Society and collect old books and manuscripts as well.
What Are Old Magazines Worth?
As with any collectible, the value of old magazines is determined by their rarity, their condition, and how much they are desired by other collectors. Newspapers and magazines have been around in various forms since 1556, when the Venetian government published “Notizie Scritte”, a monthly newspaper which sold for the amount of one gazetta, hence the term “gazette”. These may be found in museums, but if one was available privately it would be worth a fortune. Most old magazines from the United States in the range of 1930-1970 are worth something, depending on condition, etc. At any given time there are dozens of listings for old magazines on eBay. Old magazines from the 1800’s to the 1900’s may be worth hundreds of dollars if sold at some live auctions.
Old magazines were printed on a variety of materials, including “rag linen” and wood pulp based paper. Those printed on rag linen may be in better condition than ones printed on wood paper. Many old magazines used ink and paper that were acidic, leading to an eventual breakdown of the pages. If the old magazine is brittle and breaking apart, it most likely is not worth very much.
Magazines whose covers feature an important historical figure, or which portray a historic event, can much more valuable than others. Copies of Life Magazine which feature celebrities can fetch $50 or more.
Color Photos and Pictures
Old magazines that feature color photos and illustrations are usually worth more than black and white print periodicals from the same period.
Steps In Finding Out How Much Old Magazines Are Worth
If you have a large collection of old magazines, or are thinking about becoming a collector, pick up a copy of The American Periodical Collector, seen below. To find the value of vintage magazines from the 1900’s to the 1970’s, a good way to to search for similar issues for sale on sites like eBay. If it is very old, say pre-1900’s, then try to locate a local antique shop that specializes in old periodicals and ask them for an appraisal.
There just might be a collector out there who pays cash for old magazines in your area. Think of putting an ad on Craigslist with a photo and description of your old magazines and see what happens.