Magazines Register

Need to Make a Quick Buck? Consider Selling Your Vintage Magazines

vogue magazine 1955Are you a magazine publisher with access to a vault of decades-old back issues? Or perhaps you have a collection of vintage magazines in your basement or attic and you’re downsizing. Before you donate them to your local reselling store or unload them on your friends or family, you may want to see what they’re worth. They might simply be dust collectors — or there may be someone looking to pay decent money for a specific issue sitting in your stacks.

The market for vintage magazines

If you look on eBay, you will find thousands of old magazine issues, typically on sale for around $5 to $20 apiece. Obviously, selling an old magazine won’t make you rich, but if you have stacks of vintage magazines or if you do your research and begin buying up old issues in bulk, it can certainly add up. Collectors buy them, and those searching for specific issues for personal reasons do, too. Perhaps you or a friend or family member was featured in an article or even the cover. Celebrities may purchase issues in which they were featured, and their fans might try to get their hands on everything related to them. Some simply buy for nostalgic reasons.

Students doing educational research and writers working on period pieces might also want old issues. Movie and stage set designers may buy up vintage issues to help ensure scene authenticity. Museums and historical societies are also often interested in back issues. And since fashion trends tend to reappear every 20 to 30 years, fashion designers often purchase older issues. Others buy vintage magazines just for the ads: There is a big market for nostalgic ads from powerhouse brands such as Coca Cola or even brands that are no longer available.

What’s hot — and what’s not

Fashion magazines such as Vogue are obviously big draws, especially those from the ‘90s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and early 1900s. Sports Illustrated back issues are also very popular, and issues with famous athletes like Muhammad Ali on the cover tend to command higher prices. Thicker magazines; those published less frequently, such as quarterlies, biannuals, or collector’s editions, or fashion magazine March and September issues are usually worth more. As a rule, the older a magazine is, the greater its value.

You might think magazine issues covering important events such as the assassination of JFK or the end of WWII would be valuable but, in reality, so many people saved them at the time there is usually a glut available. National Geographics? Nope. Again, so many people save them that they are a dime a dozen — unless you happen to have a complete collection covering many decades.

seinor with magazine

As digital magazines become more popular, older print magazines could become more valuable. And because print magazines are somewhat fragile by nature, their value will likely continue to increase over time. If the trend continues, publishers may think twice about tossing their archives, and readers may want to reconsider dumping that closetful of old magazines. That trash may hold a treasure or two!