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What's an "old" NG Magazine and what is it worth (trying to sell)?

The bottom line - there's always someone out there that wants what you're trying to get rid of (sell) - and they may not even know it!


So there's the rub - you have to find that person that wants your particular item at a price you both can agree upon. You will never know unless you try!


Now to NG magazines - nope, not yet...


An old book collector once told me that for a book to be rare (generally speaking), there had to be fewer than 1000 copies printed. For a book to be scarce, there had to be fewer than 10,000 copies printed. Throw in a bunch of decades, and a high demand, and you've got yourself something a lot of people want, hence high dollar value. The antithesis is, if it isn't at least scarce - it's probably not worth a lot (nor the time and effort to sell it). However, there is NOTHING written in stone in the world of book sales - so please take this with a grain of salt.


Now to NG magazines (first issue published - Oct. 1888):

By 1896 more than 1,200 copies per issue were published each month.

By 1905 more than 10,000 copies per issue were published each month.

By 1914 more than 285,000 copies per issue were published each month.

By 1925 more than 990,000 copies per issue were published each month.

1940 - 1.1 million

1950 - 1.9 million

1960 - 2.5 million

1970 - 6.8 million


These numbers should give anyone an indication of the demand for their magazines, i.e. the more published - the less the demand.


Generally speaking, good condition magazines are relatively easy to come by beginning with 1920; moderately difficult from 1907 to 1919, and increasingly difficult (and costly) as you slip back in years earlier than 1907.


There are some anomalies, e.g. 1904 is much more difficult to find, especially in good condition, than several of the earlier years.


I like to use Very Good (VG) as a benchmark {note there exists no accepted standard grading system for NG magazines} and would describe this condition as:


"minor soiling, creasing (two minor tears) with moderate surface wear on the cover with moderate reflectivity and fading. The spine must be in tact and complete with moderate tears. Interior pages may have minor soiling and discoloration - but otherwise must be complete with all pages present (to include advertising)."


When you consider the number of NG magazines represented by over 120 years you begin to see how involved collecting becomes - especially when you start evaluating each magazine's quality.


Generally speaking, I have found the following decades (per issue) in VG condition go for (sliding scale downward as you reach the end of the decade):

1910 - $25 (with war years sometimes asking more)

1920 - $15

1930 - $10

1940 - $7.50 (with war years sometimes asking more)

1950 - $5

1960 - $2

1970 - $.50


Now I'll paraphrase what I stated in the beginning, "it's all in the timing!"


I've seen a Jan 1921 go for $50 with the picture supplement included. I've seen Aug 1914 with map supplement go for over $100. But I've also seen a beautiful August 1905 with map supplement go for $27.


Thus far, my record keeping on eBay for the year 1907 has the average sales prices for the top three highest priced issues sold per month averaging just $24.72 per issue for the entire publication year.


For the last 12 months on eBay, the minimum 1907 (any issue) sale was $18.51 with the maximum sale being $41.01 for all quality of magazines.


You just never know who wants what you're offering AND whether or not they're watching you right now!


I hope this helps! Good luck with your collections whether you're buying or selling!




P.S. It costs about $125 to ship 14 years worth of NG magazines via UPS - and that does not include packing material costs. The Post Office will not ship (declared) "magazines" via media mail because of their "advertisements."

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Thanks Mel, for synthesizing this aspect of National Geographic collecting. Now it is posted and anyone can read it at any time in the future (unless the world's power grids and telecommunications apparatus is destroyed).

I still have to complain about the USPS's policy on postage for magazines. ESPECIALLY for NGM; it simply isn't just any other magazine! I do not see why the USPS doesn't, or couldn't, have a grace period with the ban on magazines posted at a media rate.

To me, for advertising purposes, why can't any National Geographic more than 10 years old be considered for media (book) rate? You can't tell me anyone is profiting off of an old Parker Pen ad from 1923!!!


- Scott S.

Oh, and "P.S."

I have shipped NGM with media rate many times, and I have likewise received NGM's at media rate countless times! Ha-ha. USPS can't verify every package...
Hence "(declared)"... hint, hint...

:) Well done! Thank you!!!!!!!!!



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