The World’s Most Valuable Magazines

The World’s Most Valuable Magazines

The right vintage magazine can be worth big money. The All-Story, Playboy, New York City Television Guide, Weird Tales, Tabula, Camera Work, Look, Sports Illustrated and Doc Savage are some of the more valuable titles.

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Would you pay $20,000 for an old magazine? Some collectors will, so search those attics, basements, garage sales, auctions, secondhand stores and flea markets for the world’s most valuable magazines!

Valuable Magazine Titles – The 20th Century to the Present Day

The vast array of magazines published from the 20th century to the present day is truly staggering. This article features some of the more collectible and valuable titles from that era – the ones that can put more than a few dollars into the pockets of those who are “in the know.”

The All-Story, October 1912

This rare magazine features the first story appearance of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, who also appears on the cover. That’s big mojo among Burroughs’ dedicated fans and collectors, some of whom will pay $20,000 for an example in very good condition.

Playboy #1, December 1953

Publisher Hugh Hefner launched his famous men’s magazine in 1953 with none other than film goddess Marilyn Monroe gracing the cover. Originally priced at $.50, Playboy enjoyed an initial publishing run of 53,991 copies. Find one of those copies in fabulous near mint/mint condition and it could be worth $5,000.

Weird Tales #1, March 1923

Journalist J.C. Henneberger founded Weird Tales in Chicago in 1923. Perhaps the most famous of the horror/fantasy pulp magazines of the 20th century, Weird Tales is always a collector favorite. The premiere issue is valued at over $8,000 in excellent condition.

Tabula, February 1916

Tabula was the name of both the literary magazine and school yearbook at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois. Vol. XXII, February 1916 of the Tabula magazine features student Ernest Hemingway’s first published story, “The Judgment of Manitou,” a grim, violent tale of two trappers struggling to survive in the wilderness. This extremely rare title has been known to sell for as much as $8,000.

Camera Work #1, January 1903

Renowned American photographer Alfred Stieglitz introduced this handsome trade magazine in 1903. A total of 50 issues were published until the magazine closed its doors in 1917. Although all editions of Camera Work are extremely collectible, photography buffs love the premiere issue, which can fetch over $5,000 at auction.

New York City TeleVision Guide #1, June 14, 1948

Founded by Lee Wagner, TeleVision Guide (the title was later shortened to simply TV Guide in 1950) served the New York City area from 1948 to 1953. The first issue, priced at ten cents and featuring Gloria Swanson and Lois Wilson on the cover, is extremely rare, as very few copies survived. Find this 32-page gem and it could be worth over $3,000 to the right collector.

TV Guide #1, April 3, 1953

This issue marks the debut of Walter Annenberg’s national TV Guide, with Lucille Ball’s “$50,000,000 Baby” Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV (Desi Arnaz Jr.) prominently adorning the cover. Triangle Publications published 1,560,000 copies of TV Guide #1 and distributed it to ten metropolitan areas only. Originally priced at 15 cents, TV Guide’s debut issue is worth much more today, with near mint copies selling for around $2,000.

Look #1, January 1937

Gardner “Mike” Cowles Jr. founded venerable Look magazine in 1937. The true first issue is actually a “dummy” copy that was used internally at Look’s headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. Only a few copies have surfaced, with value estimated at $5,000. The February 1937 issue with Hermann Goering on the cover constitutes the first distributed issue of Look and is valued at around $60.

Doc Savage #1, March 1933

Another of the great adventure pulps, Street and Smith Publications’ Doc Savage Magazine ran from 1933 to 1949, producing 181 issues. The first issue is the most valuable, often selling for $4,000 or more in excellent condition.

Sports Illustrated, August 16, 1954

Hall of Fame slugger Eddie Mathews graces the cover of SI’s debut issue. Not particularly rare (but always in demand), near mint copies with the baseball card insert intact can sell for as much as $300. Several extremely rare “dummy” copies were also produced for internal use at Time-Life, SI’s publisher, including one picturing fans at a football stadium. This experimental edition brought $380.25 at a auction.

Make Money from Other Valuable and Collectible Magazines 

Look for these coveted magazines as well, with their estimated values for issues in top condition duly noted:

  • Life #1, November 23, 1936 $180
  • TV Guide, September 25, 1953, George Reeves as Superman cover $1,000
  • Island Magazine, October 1983, Madonna cover $1,000
  • Time, October 27, 1975, Bruce Springsteen cover $350
  • The Shadow #1, April 1931, $5,000
  • Famous Monsters of Filmland #1, February 1958 $7,000
  • Mechanix Illustrated, May 1954, The Creature from the Black Lagoon cover $200
  • New York City TV Guide, January 23, 1953, Marilyn Monroe cover $750
  • Saucy Romantic Adventures #1, May 1936 $4,500
  • Time #1, March 3, 1923 $175
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Julia Brewer, posted this comment on Oct 17th, 2010

I have a Dell January 1953 Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan 10 cents, 52 pages Lex Barker as Tarzan, how much is it worth? I don’t know how to grade conditions of comics. I also have a Gold Key September 1967 E R Burrough’s Tarzan of the Apes TV Adventures, 12 cents Tarzan Ventures into a forbidden land to Battle Turchuk the Mighty. Can you also tell me if Anthro by Superman National Comics Copywright 1968 are worth anything?

James Bussacco, posted this comment on Oct 17th, 2010

I Had suscribed to American Film Magazine in 1984 and 1983.
I have quite a few of these magazines.I believe these two years were the only years these magaznes were printed. Are they worth anything moneywise

Jim Bussacco
1124 Main St
Pittston, Pa 18640

William J Felchner, posted this comment on Oct 18th, 2010

@James Bussacco. American Film values are generally determined by cover subject and condition. If you wish to see actual selling prices, just place American Film magazine in your Google Browser and select Google Product Search. They’ll come up from eBay, et al., and various sites which specialize in movie memorabilia.

William J Felchner, posted this comment on Oct 18th, 2010

@Julia Brewer. Condition is everything in comic books. Two Dell January 1953 Tarzan comic books are now being offered on eBay for $15-20 each in very good condition. If they were near mint they would command more. Your September 1967 Tarzan comic book would be worth several dollars in average used condition, more if in outstanding condition.

According to Overstreet’s The Comic Book Price Guide (the bible for old comic books), National Periodical Publications produced six comic books in this line from 1968-69 featuring Howie Post art. There is also Showcase #74 Anthro. The latter in fine/very fine condition is being offered for sale at $46. So, yes, they have value.

teetee, posted this comment on Jan 3rd, 2011

i have some 1960’s marilyn monroe life/time magazines wandering what its worth . Also have

William J Felchner, posted this comment on Jan 4th, 2011

@Teetee. Marilyn Monroe Life and Time magazines from the 1960s do have value. The August 6, 1962, Life with MM on the cover is valued at around $30 in top condition. Condition plays a major factor in determining value.

Annette Beauvais, posted this comment on Mar 30th, 2011

I have a “Dummy No. I December 5, 1953″ of THE NEW SPORT MAGAZINE. Is this worth anything? My mother worked for Time/Life for years and I found this whilst cleaning out her home.

Please let me know asap! Thanks!

William J Felchner, posted this comment on Mar 31st, 2011

@Annette Beavais. Of course it has value. How much I couldn’t say. Who’s on the cover? If it’s a big superstar like Ted Williams or whoever that would increase value.

Brandi R.Brown, posted this comment on Jul 24th, 2011

I have a “Dell Magazine” featuring Marilyn Monroe in color on the front page. Inside is all black & white photos of her, including her coffin being carried.
Is this worth money & where might I look to find collectors of Marilyn Monroe memorbilia?
Thank you so much,

William J Felchner, posted this comment on Jul 29th, 2011

@Brandi R. Brown. Your Dell magazine is probably worth $20-25 in excellent condition. Place the info in Google Product Search and see if any come up for sale. That will give you an idea of what they are selling for. Monroe collectors are everywhere, but I can\\\’t give you specific ones.

Tracy, posted this comment on Nov 6th, 2011

I have some 1936, 37,38,39,40 Life magazines and I want to sell them. Do any of you have any idea where i can sell them?

Jeff Gannaway, posted this comment on Jan 10th, 2012

I have 6 different volumn 1 issue 1 magizines and would like to know what kind of value they are. #1 playboy without the red star by the P in Playboy in very good condition all the staples and no tears orginal and real. I also have theJune 1963 Jayne Mansfield issue in even better condition. Vol 1 # 1 High Times 1974 EXCELLENT COND. CollectorsEdition John and Yoko Lennon \”Their Love Book\” , 1970 very good condition. Vol.1 # 1 Pet Life 1952 10 cent copy very good condition. Vol.1 #1 John Lennon All You Need is Love 1980 edition,$3.50 excellent cond. and for last June 20 1969 Man ON The Moon collectors edition of the first moon landing very good cond. Please let me know their value, in my safe should I get a safe deposit box at the bank? Thank You and Happy New Year

Realcitychick, posted this comment on Aug 26th, 2012

I have a magazine with Jackie Kennedy and another with Johnny Carson and his wife…older magazines…are they worth anything?

William J Felchner, posted this comment on Aug 29th, 2012

@Realcitychick. Yes, they have value. It depends on the magazine and condition. You better specify Johnny Carson’s wife. He had more than one, beginning with Jody.

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