They can easily pile up and fade with age, but not all ancient magazines should be seen as candidates for the recycling bin. Though they’re mass produced, old magazines can also become antique relics, and thus collector’s items.
Some old magazines are obvious collector’s items. For example, editions of Life, Look and Time from November 1963 and the following months, the time of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Of course, historical events such as the Kennedy shooting are obviously important, and thus people hang on to them, driving down their value as a collector’s item. Those JFK shooting magazines might go for $25 to $50 at a speciality show or shop if they’re in excellent or mint shape.
According to memorabilia website Nostomoania, the most valuable magazine of all time is Drag Cartoons edition 27, which it estimates as holding a $169,000 US value. That’s a real eye-opening amount for a magazine featuring a cover picture of 1960s Batman and Robin, waving from a top the Batmobile.
However, here are five other top-collectible magazines, according to Paul Fraser Collectibles.
5 – Artist F N Souza’s Life magazine edition
A publication known for its photojournalism, Life tapped contemporary Indian painter F N Souza for its cover art in a 1970 edition. The untitled artwork appearing on the magazine’s front shows a horrifically surreal face, complete with garish teeth. The magazine still managed to fetch $10,000 at auction in 2011.
4 –Playboy debut issue
Who else would appear on the debut issue of famous articles-and-nudity mag Playboy but Marilyn Monroe?The famous sex icon waves to readers on this inaugural 1953 issue, launching one of the 20th century’s most-notorious publications.
The 1953 Monroe issues are a rarity, with only 50,000 made and far fewer surviving, and one went for $6,500 at auction a few years ago.
3 – James Joyce serialized writings
Authors used to run pieces of fictions in magazines before completing a book. Famed Irish writer James Joyce was one of them, and his work appeared in a magazine called the New Freewoman. A selection of editions of the magazine sold for $10,000 at auction.
2 – Neil Armstrong signed Life
This one is as rare as an authentic moon rock, but worth a mention. The July 4, 1969 issue of Life was a special edition put out ahead of Armstrong’s famous moonwalk, which is for sale for 5,000 pounds.
1 – John Lennon’s signed Datebook
The late Beatles star signed a copy of this magazine back in 1966, when it ran an article on the Beatles’ popularity and organized religion. John Lennon signed a copy of it for the publisher that went for $12,000 at a 2009 auction.