In the process of helping Grandma with her attic cleaning, we uncovered hundreds of old magazines dating as far back as the 1900s. Are these old magazines worth money? The answer is “It all depends.” Magazines, like everything you might own are only as valuable as what people are willing to pay for them. In most cases, what people are willing to pay isn’t very much.
The reason why most old magazines aren’t worth a lot is because there were so many of them printed. And because the magazine were so interesting and so full of gorgeous photographs, depression-era people like my grandparents (and yours) held onto them as a way to build a low cost reference library.
The old Time, Life, National Geographic, Newsweek, and other popular magazines I found in Grandma’s attic covered everything from fashion of the 1920s, to the War years, the Kennedy years, and other notable events. A quick search on eBay revealed that most of these were very common and when they sold (if at all), they fetched between $3-5. Once listing fees and selling fees are deducted, a seller can expect to net around $2 or $3 per magazine. Hardly worth it, isn’t it?
That’s not to say that all magazines are worthless. One of the 1941 Life magazines we found in Grandma’s attic generally sells for $30 because it features Ted Williams. And individual magazines from the 1910s (such as the Mentor Magazine) might fetch $15 per issue. To determine the value of the magazines you have, look them up on eBay and check the final auction price. Ones that sell for at least $10 or more are worth putting out on auction. The ones that don’t sell for much can be sold in one of these other ways.
To a book dealer
If your magazines are in nice condition, an antique book dealer may purchase the entire lot for one fixed price. In our area, 50¢ – $1 per issue seems to be a common purchase price.
Have a yard sale
If you have hundreds of magazines, a one day yard sale is a great way to get rid of your magazines to collectors. I recommend setting prices at 50% below what antique bookstores charge to ensure that they all sell.
Strip out the ads
Many dealers buy old magazines not for the articles but for the gorgeous full page color ads. Most old magazines have at least five or six high quality color print ads that can fetch $10 or more in antique stores. Vintage car and train ads, cigarette ads and ads featuring popular celebrities seem to garner the highest prices.
While you won’t get rich selling old magazines, it is possible to make a bit of spare cash. And what about the magazines you can’t sell? They can always be donated to your favorite charity for a nice deduction at tax time.
More by this contributor:
Are my old dishes worth money?
How to disinfect thrift store clothes
Dressing fashionable with thrift store duds