Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

June 11, 2014

Issues: Collectible vintage magazines

Linda Hamer Kennett
Daily News

---- — My job as a liquidator takes on many forms, from down-sizing for the 60-somethings moving to their retirement homes, to thinning down for the 30-somethings who ended up with things they didn’t need when their parents downsized! No matter what the age of the client, there seems to be one common bond: Everyone has at least one stack of old magazines.

Whether purchased for the pictures or because you subscribe for the articles,”Playboy” tops the list of the most commonly saved magazine. It’s first (undated) issue, which sold slightly more than 54,000 copies, hit the newsstands in December of 1953 featuring Marilyn Monroe as the centerfold is a must for any collection. These are currently selling in the $80 to $130 range and are a fairly easy to find at online sources like eBay. Other celebrity issues to watch for include, the 1977 with both the cover and an article featuring Barbara Streisand, Jane Fonda’s pictorial from March of 1968 and the January 1986 issue with Andy Warhol on the cover.

As to the literary value of the magazine, there are a number of issues that are collectible including the 1954 March, April and May editions which serialized Ray Bradury’s Fahrenheit 451” in its entirety. These will run in the $200 to $350 range each. The March 1964 issue featuring an interview with philosopher Ayn Rand and the January 1981 issue containing an interview With John Lennon and Yoko Ono plus an article by Stephen King are also highly sought by collectors.

If you are purchasing old “Playboys” for investment purposes, watch for content that includes pictures or interviews with celebrities in their early years of their careers. While these may currently be purchased in the $3 to $5 range, they are anticipated to rise in value to $30-$40 over the next few years.

Magazines connected with political figures and world events are finding an audience.Still at the top of the list, after all these years, are publications featuring our late President John F. Kennedy.

The Nov. 29, 1963 issue of “Life” magazine featured a somber formal portrait of the recently assassinated President on its cover and is of great interest to collectors. Military historians watch for World War II-era “Colliers” for their articles by Martha Gellhorn, the award-winning journalist who stowed away on a hospital ship to cover the D-Day landing on Normandy first hand.

For those collectors who take their politics with a side of humor, the 1972 “Harvard Lampoon” featured a “Cosmopolitan-esque” centerfold of former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger... in the nude.

In some cases magazines are collected solely for their covers. “The Saturday Evening Post” featuring the work of Norman Rockwell and “Harper’s Weekly” covers by Maxfield Parish are two such publications. Cover photography is another area of interest with categories ranging from sports figures and politicians to actors and rock stars. Publications to watch for include “ Ebony,” “Time,” and “Rolling Stone.” Also watch for copies of “Life” with vintage Coke ads on the back cover, especially those featuring Santa.

Condition is a top consideration in the value of a magazine, no matter what it is. I found an in-depth 10-point scale for grading magazines online at, that you may find very useful.

While it many be a little be too soon to forecast the effects of digital publishing on magazines, there are those who anticipate that they could go the way of record albums.

If this prediction is correct, then the dwindling supply of magazines could cause a considerable increase in the value of those that survive.

Until next time,


Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or