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Collecting advertisements, print hold valued interests

January 13, 2019
Dagmar was on the cover of Life magazine on July 16, 1951. Though magazines have been around for centuries, the golden age of magazines in America has been from about 1920 to the present.

For almost every interest a person might have there is a magazine which addresses a particular interest. From the time Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440 knowledge has been mass produced in a variety of mediums one which is the magazine. The word magazine was invented from the Arabic word makhazin (storehouse) by Englishman Edward Cave in the 18th century. He was dedicated to creating a magazine that the public would enjoy but little did he know so many other magazines would appear on the stage with a similar goal.

Though magazines have been around for centuries, the golden age of magazines in America has been from about 1920 to the present. Sadly though, more and more magazines are leaving the ink and paper for the digital online presentations. This twist in the industry will probably intensify collectors’ quest for that special paper edition of their favorite magazine.

Collectors might be those who value art like the Norman Rockwell covers of the Saturday Evening Post or they may be history buffs who want a variety of magazines that covered JFK’s assassination. Still others may be interested in a particular topic such as flowers, baseball or fashion. There are all kinds of categories one can use to collect — some are drawn to particular dates, some like first issues and some just like to collect complete runs of a particular magazine like National Geographic. Sadly only a few issues of that missive from the mid 1900s are of much value and that may be due to their advertisements.

There is a huge market for those who collect old magazines just to harvest the advertisements. Many have found these vintage paper advertisements to be more profitable than the magazine as a whole so they pull the magazine apart to get the ads. Often the ads are framed and sold to those who collect just advertisements from the past.

If you are interested in making this your hobby there are a few pointers that might be helpful in your quest. When collecting magazines collect only those in top condition because it means everything when resale time comes. Rarity counts so all those JFK magazines might not have the value one would think due to the number that were published and still survive. Consulting a magazine price guide is always a good strategy but also one should check prices at an online site that is buying and selling. The difference in the recommendations could be significant.

Jean McClelland writes about antiques for The Herald-Dispatch.

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