If You Have Old National Geographic Magazines, They Might Be Worth Something

People collect all sorts of things, and if you have old National Geographic Magazines lying around, you may wonder if they're worth anything.


May 2 2023, Published 10:13 a.m. ET

National Geographic magazines on display
Source: Getty Images

Nothing is more nostalgic than a pile of National Geographic magazines. Some may have stumbled across their parent's massive collection as children, as it's one of the few magazines that capture the interest of both kids and adults alike.

Between its dazzling photos that exude wanderlust and travel, it's safe to say the magazine is iconic. So are the National Geographic magazines worth anything?

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Are old National Geographic magazines worth anything?

If you’re wondering whether old National Geographic magazines are worth anything, the answer is yes! The magazines are a collector’s item and can be worth tens of thousands of dollars if you know what you’re looking for.

Since the first issue came out in October 1888, the magazine has had thousands of issues internationally, and for the first 14 years it was printed in black and white. In 1904, an editor decided to create a few full-page images which boosted the magazine’s profile, and eventually they printed the magazine in color.

Before we dive deeper into the value of National Geographic magazines, keep in mind that the most valuable issues are those published before 1907 because back then only around 10,000 copies of each issue were printed. Currently, that number is around 10 million copies.

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Which factors impact the value of old National Geographic magazines?

Many factors determine the value, and they are:

Age: Older issues are more valuable and if you have the first issue of the magazine, you could be anywhere between $4,000 up to $100,000 richer. The second, third, and fourth issues are valued at $2,000 to $5,000 each.

The 1904 issue is also very rare and valuable since it's the first issue that contains images.

Completeness: A complete magazine contains the original maps or other inserts that came with the issue.

Condition: Mint condition copies (no damage or wear) are most valuable. While copies in good condition can fetch a good price depending on rarity and collectability. And copies with stains, creases, missing images, pages, or without its cover can lose up to 80 percent of its value.

Single issue or part of a collection: Usually, a single issue is worth more than the same issue sold as part of a collection, but a complete collection of key issues can be very valuable depending on the condition.

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Where can you find old National Geographic magazines?

If you're interested in locating back issues of National Geographic, you have a few options.

  • You can purchase them online through National Geographics back issues site or call 1-800-777-2800, but they don't have staff to assist with archive searches, so you'll have to use the Archive search option.
  • Check eBay, and specifically the National Geographic section to get an idea of prices whether buying or selling. Your search can be filtered by publication year and month, name, condition, and price.
  • You can also search for used National Geographic magazines on Etsy, used bookstores, vintage shops, collectors' sites, and more.

How can I determine the value of my National Geographic magazines?

The best way to determine the value of your National Geographic magazines is to educate yourself. Look at your magazines, check the publication date, the condition, and look for inserts like maps. Then look for your magazine, or similar issues published around the same time online, and check their asking price and final sale price.

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