PULP COVER FRIDAY PRESENTS: SO, HOW MUCH DOES THIS STUFF COST, ANYWAY?
Good question. To get an answer, I went to eBay, the greatest flea market in the world and did a quick search in the category of: “magazines, back issues” in the “pulp” subdivision. 2609 lots were listed. Not all of them, oddly enough, were actually pulp magazines, so I threw those out. I also threw out most runs, but kept one in that looked interesting, and got the following result. Note that all of these are asking prices, not opening bids, under the “Buy it Now” selling option. I would say that at least some of these sellers are cock-eyed optimists, but maybe I’m just cheap. Or frugal.
#1 at $1275: Vice Squad Detective, no year listed but thought to be from 1935. Apparently this title was so racy that it was shut down before it reached wide distribution, so at least it has the rarity factor going for it.
#2 at 1250: The Scarlet Adventuress (3-36). No idea why this should be so expensive.
#3 at $895. Actually, something of a bargain. This is the set mentioned above: 7 Argosy magazines (1922) containing the complete CHESSMAN OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I just wanted to throw out a few of these covers.
#4 at $807.50 (on sale from $950): Stage & Screen Stories (4-36). I’ll just go ahead and speculate that the cover’s subject matter is partially responsible for the zine’s high value (or asking price).
#5 at $550: Weird Tales (8-35). At last, a zine I would consider buying (if I had a spare $550 to drop).
#6 at $400: The Shadow (11-15-32).
#7 at $382.50 (on sale from $450): Stage & Screen Stories (3-36). Again, this either reflects the zine’s subject matter or the seller’s excess zeal.
#8 at $375: Dime Mystery (12-36).
#9 at $350: Futuristic Science Stories. A Brit pulp, for a change, and probably pretty rare. It doesn’t help that the seller doesn’t disclose the zine’s date and it’s not visible on the cover.
#10: $350: Futuristic Science Stories, another issue.
The next mags are 4 Shadows from the same seller ($300-$250), a Spicy Western ($255), a Star Detective ($250), a Operator 5 ($225), and a Saucy Movie Tales (1-36) that I have to reproduce because one of its selling points is the “Classic Nude Shark Cover” ($235).
Are pulp collectors crazy for paying these prices (or are dealers nuts for asking them?)? To test this possibility, I called up all 745,620 lots of ALL magazine back issues for sale.
Topping the list is a set of magazines with articles about Michael Jackson: 1 Ebony (1979) and 7 Jet (70’s-‘90’s dates). The seller, who claims he keeps them in his safe, also claims “All of the magazines are rare.” His asking price: $213,000. No, that is not a typo. Of course, he does throw in free shipping, so there you go.
#2: All Vogue magazines from 1950 to 2011, bound. It doesn’t say how many magazines in the lot, but from the picture I’d say there’s approximately a crap load. Asking price: $55,000. Free shipping, also.
#3: Playboy magazine, issues 1 through 12. A mere $11,999, also with free shipping.
#4: We finally get to a single magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, #1, which, actually I wouldn’t mind having. This one’s available for $6,500, and you know that it’s a bargain because it’s sealed in a plastic bag and graded 9.0. If that one’s too expensive, there’s the one at #8 in the list, but it’s only graded an 8.0 and goes for two large less, only $4,500. STILL too expensive? Further down the list you can get issues 1 through 6, also graded from between 6 to 4 for 2,599.99 (and you KNOW it’s a bargain, because it’s less than $2,600). Have you ever heard of anything more moronic than sealing your magazines in a plastic bag?
You have Playboy issue 1 in 5th place at $5,995.95 (price slashed by a nickel to keep it a bargain); the first issue of the New Yorker at 5-g; a collection of vintage Bruce Lee magazines (95 in total) for an opening bid of $3,000 or a buy it now price of $10,000 (no bids so far!): a complete, I say COMPLETE!, set of Alaska Geographic (1972-2003) for $3,000; issues 1-61 of V magazine (I don’t even know what the hell that is, but they’re from the good old days of 1999-2009) for $2,500; the Time magazine with Mustafa Kernal Pasa on the cover for $2,600; the complete Cigar Aficionado (with 7 duplicate issues!) for $1990; a Playboy from the dark ages (1978) with Farrah Fawcett on the cover (hell, I think I bought that one) with an opening bid of $1400, and, finally, Ranger Rick’s Nature Magazine (12-75) which is “A must for children of all ages.” for a mere $899.99.
So, are pulp magazine collectors daft? I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader, to decide.