Making Paper from Paper

Life Magazine cover from 1922

Magazines can be one of those collections that just happened – you weren’t planning on collecting but you just couldn’t get rid of those great issues. There were articles you still planned to read or great writing you might need to reference in the future – recipes, an editorial, beautiful pictures. Next thing you know, you’ve become a collector! Vintage magazine art is a hidden gem in the collectibles market. Especially seductive are ads, not to mention covers, from Life Magazine.

I have had major success reselling Life Magazines that can be had for about $1 each at estate auctions. They average $4-10 each and, depending upon the age, condition, and demand for the issue, they can run upwards of $80. Some Norman Rockwell covers list at $95!

Imagine you come across a Life Magazine circa 1935 in mint condition, gathering dust in a long forgotten corner of a hidden-away shelf. The cover of the issue happens to be a Norman Rockwell priced at $80. Inside are pristine, original print advertisements for Coca-Cola ($17), Ford ($20), and Polo ($25). To top it off, it’s the July issue with an interview with Ernest Hemmingway – worth an additional $30. That old magazine gathering dust in the attic just brought in $172, and that’s one issue alone!

Life Magazine, most famous for having raised the bar on photography and for documenting its progression through the 20th century through fashion, art, and iconic war imagery, is valuable for its shelf life, as well as its content.