In the process of cleaning out Grandma’s attic, our family found thousands of magazines stretching clear back to the 1900s. Convinced that we had come across a gold mine, we quickly checked the prices online to discover … that most of these magazines weren’t even worth the cost of the postage to mail them somewhere.
As a rule, the reason that most old magazines aren’t very valuable is because there were so darn many of them printed. And for frugal families such as our grandparents, magazines were often kept as an inexpensive way to build up a cheap reference library for the family to use.
This is not to say that all magazines are worthless. Limited run magazines, early editions of sports magazines or Playboy, or vintage magazines featuring a famous celebrity of the time could be worth a bit of cash. Magazines can also be valuable for the ads they contain, especially full page color ads that advertised Coca Cola, cars, trains, or cigarettes.
For this reason, it’s worth checking out the value of all your magazines on an auction sites (such as eBay) before disposing of them. While the bulk of your magazines will only be worth between 50¢ to $5 to collectors, there may be a few magazines in the pile that could be worth $50 or more. So who buys old magazines? Here are a few places to try.
The world’s largest online auction site is the best way to get rid of some of your more collectable magazines. Since auction fees, Paypal, and packaging fees will eat into your profits, I wouldn’t bother listing anything that is worth less than $8-$10.
If you have a lot of magazines, renting space at a flea market is a great way to bring your magazines to collectors. The advantage of a flea market as opposed to listing these on an auction site is that potential buyers can see at-a-glance the condition the magazine is in, the contents, and if it contains ads that are highly collectable. Renting a space at a flea market will cost between $5-$50 per day depending on the size of the venue.
If you have enough old magazines to make it worthwhile, a one day yard sale is another way to sell off a collection of old magazines. How should they be priced? I recommend setting the price at 30-50% less than what local antiquarian book stores are charging.
Collectible book dealers
If you can’t be bothered with selling magazines individually, a local antiquarian book dealer may be willing to buy the entire lot. This approach generally nets you the least amount of money since the dealer is taking a gamble on whether or not he will be able to sell your magazines.
So is it worth trying to sell old magazines? The answer all depends on the type of magazines you own and the kind of condition they are in. While you won’t get much for common magazines such as Life, Time, or National Geographic, you might discover a few treasures in the pile that will be worth selling at one of these venues.
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