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COLLECTING MAGAZINES What to Look For and How to Determine Value?   Look (January 25, 1955)          The hobby of collecting magazines can b...

COLLECTING MAGAZINES: What to Look For and How to Determine Value?

What to Look For and How to Determine Value?
Look(January 25, 1955)
         The hobby of collecting magazines can be fun, educational, and rewarding. One needs to know which magazines are prime collectibles, which are presently very valuable and which have potentials to become very valuable in the near future, and which are worthless and are just gathering dust. Of course, some worthless magazines may have value depending on the kinks and fixations of the collector.
          My being a magazine collector was brought about by circumstances. My dad bought and collected magazines, from the 1950s up to his death in 1966, and the subscriptions continued up to the 1970s. My dad, who was Chinese, learned how to speak Tagalog and English through these media. I, on the other hand, was a freelance writer and crossword puzzle contributor for different publications since I was in fourth year high school.
           Every time my crossword puzzle or article was published, I would ask a complimetary copy of the particular magazine, and also buy one, if I have the extra money, for a duplicate. That was my sort of vainglorious fetish. As time passed, I realized that I got literally tons of magazines filed up in my room.

          We transfered residence several times and, though I regret it, I need to leave much of my collections of magazines (and comics) behind. Up until 2010, I still have about three thousand magazines in my possession. Then came the Habagat flood. About three large carton-boxful of magazines, those at the bottom of the pile, were ruined beyond saving.

Bulaklak, Hiyas ng Tahanan (December 30, 1953), Liwayway (November 9, 1970)
and Fotoplay(February 1969)

          I was disheartened because they include most of the oldest magazines and some of my priced favorites. I thought some of them, which include issues of foreign magazines like Liberty, Life, Look, People Today and Time, and local magazines like Bulaklak, Liwayway and Fotoplay, were really valuable. Until a collector-friend of mine told me they weren’t really that valuable. Except for a couple of issues containing certain articles, none of the ruined magazines was worth more than a hundred pesos each.

Mabuhay, Aliwan(g) ng Bayan (May 15, 1933)
          Since then I started researching and learning about magazine collecting and set my own method of determining value and collectibility.

          Aside from the premier issues and the really vintage ones, the value of a magazine is determined by several factors: rarity, condition, contents, who’s on the cover, and intrinsic factors such as historicity, cult status, thematic appeal, background anecdote, etc.

          Let’s dissect these factors one by one, but I’ll try to concentrate on magazines that were printed, distributed and circulated in the Philippines.


First (December 1999) and last (September 2013) issues
of Atlas TV Guide (initially titled TV Star),
showing both front and back covers
          The maiden or premier or first issues, by concept, are the targets of collectors, but are not and will not always have high value. The maiden issue will accumulate intrinsic value as time passed and it gained vintage, and as the magazine’s succeeding issues becomes popular and relevant to public interest. All the other factors, rarity, condition, contents, who’s on the cover, contribute to the value of the maiden issue. Also, the value of every maiden issue depends on the genre that a collector collects. The first issue, for example, of Movie Fan and Artista will be very valuable to one who collects magazines about movies and movie actors, and the first issue of Censored, Dalaga, Pinoy Playboy and Playhousewill be valuable to one who collects sex and erotica-oriented magazines, and so on.

          The last issue of a magazine can also be very valuable, especially when it has a cult following. The value doubles when the printing is limited to a few hundreds or a couple of thousands, and even more if it’s privilege print, which are given only to loyal followers.


          Vintage, in plain explanation, refers to the age of the magazine. As a general rule, the older the magazine, the greater the vintage value. This, however, doesn’t mean that all old magazines have high value. Again, it will depend of the other factors combined. What vintage does is multiply the value determined by the other factors combined. 

Libertine Men’s Magazine,
the only issue that came off the press
(No date tag,
probably circulated middle to third quarter of 2008).
          The practice of recent publishing outfits, especially of the local adult men’s magazines, of not putting dates on their pages so that they can reprint the issue any time demands go up, is actually devaluing its vintage factor. There’s one local magazine that I know of that had only one issue published and closed shop – a men’s magazine titled Libertine. Being the only issue, it would have started accumulating value by now, but it didn’t. The reason – it doesn’t have a date tag, not even the year it was printed. The exact date tag in a magazine is very important because it not only determines vintage but also records historical significance.


Which first issue has a higher collectibility value?
FHM Philippines (March 2000) or 18 (September 2000).
          One most important factor in a magazine’s collectibility is “how rare it is?” How many were printed? How many survived vintage? Again, the rarer it is, the more it is valuable. To be considered rare the number of prints, generally, should not exceed ten thousand. That is why magazines which are Sunday supplements of daily newspapers very very seldom will have real value. The same holds true for widely-circulated magazines.

          Let’s put it this way: You have the first issue of FHMPhilippines in yours possession, in mint condition, still inside its plastic container. Do you think its worth your lunch money? No, it isn’t. Why? For the simplest reason that it is not rare. The sheer number of copies printed and circulated render its future value to almost zero percentage of increment. Plus, it’s a well-known franchise title, and many people kept and save them, and if ever they decide to resale them, there are too many in the market, no rarity factor. A relatively unknown men’s magazine, say Playhouse, 18 or Gentlemen’s Magazine (GM), with only around ten thousand printed copies or less will be exceedingly more valuable to collect.

Orig Showbiz Magazine (April 23, 1983).
All the three celebrities on the cover,
Fernando Poe Jr, Julie Vega and Claudia Zobel (inset),
had already passed away.
          A magazine also gets its value from its cover. What or who is in the cover. If it’s a unique art work by a well-known artist, then you’ll have points on that. If it’s a masterpiece never before shown except in that magazine cover, then your points triples. If the artist had already passed away, it’ll be a highest pointer.

          If it’s a celebrity cover, a lot of factors are to be considered and weighed: Background accounts and anecdotes, popularity, status, achievements, controversies, scrupples, scandals, etc. This may sound unbelievable, but do you know that magazines having Assunta de Rossi on the cover is more valuable than one with Marian Rivera; one with Claudia Zobel more valuable than one with Alma Moreno; and one with basketball player Bernard Fabiosa than one with boxer Manny Pacquiao? Without talking about politics, a Philippine Free Press issue having former President Ferdinand Marcos on the cover is probably more than a thousand times more valuable than a Time magazine with former President Cory Aquino on the cover. This is because of the combination of the magazine issue’s rarity and intrinsic value.

          Similarly, magazine with covers featuring celebrities that had already passed away are also sought after by collectors. Somehow, the value of these particular magazine issues increase after the celebrity died. Some sort of “afterlife effect.”
          Collectors hunt for magazines with pioneering and groundbreaking, as well as feisty and nasty contents: New discoveries, historical accounts, stolen shots of celebrities, tales of real-life adventures and scandals, first publication of a celebrity’s life story, first publication of a celebrity’s baby pictures, first publication of a novel or comics story that became a hit (especially those of famous authors and illustrators), etc.

          The idea of incorporating vernacular comic (komiks) series inside the magazine pages is very well founded. It increases the magazine’s potentials and sales, as well as collectibility.
Darna magazine covers:
Kislap (March 22, 1973), Sosyal!(December 23, 1986), True Horoscope Stories (December 19, 2003),
and Inside Showbiz (May 2005).

           There are collectors with very specific picks and interests. I, for one, collects magazines both with covers and contents about Darna and about Angel Locsin. A collector-friend of mine looks for magazines that have different weird and unique print ads. Another one, collects anything  and everything about Regine Velasquez. And still another is fond of collecting magazines with "look-alikes" on the covers.
          Thematic collectors amass magazines containing items and articles that interest them: unique ads, recipes, health tips, sports items, animal pictures, car pictures, nude pictures, eroticas, fashion displays, write-ups about their favorite movie stars or sports heroes, environmental articles, and even caricatures, gossips, jokes and bloopers.
Graphic (September 15, 1971), Modern Romances & True Confessions (July 5, 1977),
Sports World (January 22-26, 1983), Toyz for the Boyz (June 2005), and Moviestar (August 27, 2007).
          There are magazines that have double or triple features, showcasing sexy pictorials and celebrity profile, illustrated romance stories with sports and fashion sections, sports and celebrity news, cars and sexy girls, celebrity interviews and gossips, etc., which has more followers.

First (January 2008), and seventh and last (February 2009) issues
of Spiff, showing both front and back covers.
          Some people try to collect and complete short-run magazines: Libertine (only 1 issue), Playhouse(only two legitimate issues and two retitled Playhouse Blue issues), Pinoy Erotica (only 3 issues), Good Life (only 6 issues), Spiff (only 7 issues), Metro Timesweek (only 10 issues), Men’s Edge (only 12 issues), Gintong Mariposa (only 20 issues), Men’s World (less than 30 issues), 10 Magazine (less than 50 issues), Moneysaver (less than 70 issues), Pinay Digest (less than 100 issues), MOD Girl, (less than 150 issues), Atlas TV Guide (only 165 issues), Savvy (less than 200 issues), etc. Endeavoring collecting the entire set, from first to last issue, is considered by collectors as an "achievement." Still others collect only all the special issues of their favorite magazine, such as anniversary, Christmas, independence Day, Lenten, New Year, etc. 
          Of course a would-be collector also looks on the condition of the magazines. However, although wears and tears, smudges and stains, cringes and cuts, and discolorations diminish the value of any paper collectibles, the other factors come into play to determine their overall collectivity and worth. For instance, a worn-out 1980s already defunct sports magazines like Sports World featuring on the cover a deceased celebrity, or like Sports Weekly featuring a picture of a retired athlete, or a "For Adult Only" magazine, Dalaga, is worth more than a mint-condition Cosmopolitan Philippines or PlayboyPhilippines first issue. Here, vintage, rarity, cover value and intrinsic factors prevail over the bad condition of the magazine. Serious collectors know how to discern and are not discourage in buying paper collectibles that may seemed already worthless to newbie collectors.

10 – MINT
5 – GOOD
3 – FINE
2 – FAIR
1 – POOR 

One of two unique covers of the first issue of Playhouse (January 1, 2008),
in MINT condition (Level 10).
MINT – As the word suggest, it is of pristine condition, both cover and inside pages.
Mr. & Ms. (June 8, 2004), with Oyo Boy Sotto and Angel Locsin on the front cover,
in NEAR-MINT condition (Level 9).
NEAR-MINT – No stains or penmarks anywhere in the magazine. May have very slight discoloration especially when it is more than 10 years old. May have minor cringes on edges. All pages must be intact.

MOD Girl (August 2006),
in EXCELLENT condition (Level 8).
EXCELLENT – Minor stress lines on the spine, minor cringes, creases and smudges, slight discoloration on cover and yellowing of inside pages. All pages must be intact.

Babae (November 8, 1983),
in NEAR-EXCELLENT condition (Level 7).
NEAR-EXCELLENT – Visible stress lines on the spine, cringes, creases, smudges are also visible on the cover. Discoloration on the cover and yellowing inside pages with few stains. No missing pages nor cut pieces.

Bulaklak at Paruparo (May 16, 1979),
with Emma Henry and Dindo Fernando (both deceased) on the cover,
in VERY GOOD condition (Level 6).
VERY GOOD – Smudges, creases, and few wrinkle and transverse lines. Cringes on the edges of both cover and inside pages. Cover page may be loose, pronounced discoloration of cover and yellowing of inside pages, but everything is still intact.

Liwayway (February 5, 1944), Japanese Occupation Era issue,
in GOOD condition (Level 5).
GOOD – Pronounced wear-and-tear and discoloration can already be seen on cover, with smudges, cringes, wrinkles all over. Cover may also be detached, but still intact as well as the inside pages.

Sports Weekly (October 23, 1981),
in VERY FINE condition (Level 4).
VERY FINE – Tears, cuts and pronounced cringes on the the spine and edges. Pronounced stains, discoloration and yellowing, and may have torn inside pages or cut outs, but generally still intact with no missing page.

Sports World (February 13, 1982),
with Maritess de Joya on the cover with Lydia de Vega (inset),
in FINE condition (Level 3).
FIND – Pronounced wear-and-tear, wrinkles, smudges and discolorations all over. Cuts and missing bits can be observed. Blackening or browning of inside pages. May have one or two missing pages, a few may not be readable.

Prime Weekly Edition (December 17, 1987),
with Ynez Veneracion look-alike Aurora Reyes Sta. Ana on the cover,
in FAIR condition (Level 2).
FAIR – Cover detached and may be separated. Pronounced wear-and-tear and discoloration as well as bleaching all over. Tears and wrinkles all over the cover and inside pages. Blackening or browning of inside pages. May have one to four missing pages. Some pages may not be readable because of bleaching, blackening or browning.

MOD Filipina (October 16, 1987), Chinese Special issue,
in POOR condition (Level 1).
POOR – Cover detached, separated or torn. Pronounced severe wear-and-tear all over. The magazine may still be collectible for one reason or another, but as the word suggest, it is in poor condition. Most pages should still be readable. This may only have value if it contains something that interest the collector.
Given a choice, which magazine do you think a collector will choose?
Cosmopolitan Philippines 10th Anniversary Issue (June 2007) with well-known actress Katrina halili
on the cover having a condition level 9 (NEAR-MINT),
or Dalaga(August 1985) with a relatively unknown starlet Dia Diamante
on the cover having a condition level of only 3 (FINE).
NOTE: Level 2 (FAIR) and Level 1 (POOR) magazines may look dilapidated, but there are serious collectors that may still find something interesting in them that they collect, such as an interview with their favorite film star or athlete, or a rare picture of a starlet, or a caricature drawn by a legendary artist. So, don’t throw them away yet. They might be worth more than those bargain 18, Candy, RED, FHM Philippines and Playboy Philippines issues you see on Booksale.

          This is something that only serious collectors take into consideration. Some collectors value cover more than contents. To others, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter how bad the condition of the magazine as long as all the contents are intact. In a sense, the intrinsic value translates to collectibility. Each collector has his own “gut feel” for a particular magazine. Each collector has his own interest, his own thematic preference, his own quirks and fetishes. Thanks to this, magazines transfer hands through selling and trading between collectors.
A combination of intrinsic factors gives magazines with Assunta de Rossi on the cover,
10 Magazine (December 2002) and Mr. & Ms. (May 13, 2003),
more collectibility value than that of Marian Rivera,
Bannawag (January 2, 2012) and FHM Philippines (January 2013).

          To better understand what intrinsic value is, allow me to point some examples: Above, I mentioned that a magazine having Assunta de Rossi on the cover is more valuable than one with Marian Rivera. With due respect to Marian Rivera’s fans, this is because rarity is more important than popularity in magazine collecting. Furthermore, background accounts about the life of the celebrity on the cover also add collectibility value. Assunta de Rossi used to play and pose “sexy” in movies and magazine pictorials respectively. Suddenly during her rise to fame, she decided to tie the not with an equally well-known personality, Congressman Jules Ledesma. Then disappeared from the limelight. Similarly, that is also what happened to Christina Gonzales. Such accounts and anecdotes make their magazine covers much sought after by collectors. That is intrinsic value.

No politics, it’s for real.
A Philippine Free Press issue (April 15, 1989) featuring the Marcos Family on the cover
is more than a thousand times more valuable than a Time “Woman of the Year” issue (January 5, 1987)
 with Cory Aquino on the cover.
          A Philippine Free Press issue having the Marcos Family on the cover is a thousand times more valuable than a Time magazine with President Aquino on the cover. Why? In the particular example shown above, it was well-established that during those times, the Philippine Free Press was known as “critical” of the Marcoses. Yet, the magazine featured the entire Marcos family on the front cover. This was also the time when coup d’etat attempts against the Cory regime persist. The public, and that includes magazine collectors, are so intrigued. On the other side, the Cory Aquino cover Time issue has almost zero collectibility value because it was widely circulated and the information it contain are already public knowledge through radio and TV broadcast, so it does not have any intrinsic value at all. While both may have historical significance, it is the combination of factors that determine the intrinsic value of a magazine.

          Works of arts becomes more valuable when its artists passed away. The same holds true for things connected to a celebrity, and that includes magazine with him or her on the cover.
Typos and errors on the cover may increase the value of the magazine exponentially.
Celebrity World (July 11, 1994), with the misspelled word,
and Mr. & Ms. (June 25, 1996), with the wrong printed date.

          Typos and errors noticeable on the cover, rare attributes about the featured cover, coincidences, quirks, etc., are also considered intrinsic factors. The more intrinsic factors a magazine has, the higher its value.

          By the way, there seems to be no existing term for “a person who collects magazines,” so allow me to invent one – Periodicophilist, from the Greek words periodikos (periodicals) and philos (loving). The term would literally means “magazine lover.”


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