How Much Is It Worth?
What Is It Worth?
By Steve Ferber
Hardly a day goes by when we do not receive and email or phone call from someone who tell us they discovered a treasure trove of John F Kennedy magazines, books and newspapers. In most cases, these collections were found in attics, closets, garages or estate sales. Since we have always offered free appraisals, teh task falls on us to give the owners an idea of value.
Quite often, when we view the first one or two photos we can tell whether the collection is likely to yield a nice return for the owner. How do we know so quickly? In most cases its because the first couple of photos include copies of Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, and local daily newsappers typiocally from the days after the assaassination of President Kennedy or from his inauguration. Those events were big news in the 1960's.
But surely, these items printed over fifty years ago must have great value, especially since John F Kennedy is the most collected President. Unfortunately, that is not often the case.
The reason is simple. Value is determined by two key factors; Scarcity and Demand. Many of these items were pirnted in the millions. Magazines such as Loo and Life magazine often had circulations over over 3 million copies. Some daily newspaper circulations reached levels of over 500,000 or even over a 100,000 copies.To add to the challenges is that President Kennedy was such a beloved figure and his assassination was such big news, that so many American familes save copes of these magazines and newspapers as a way of memoralizing the life of President Kennedy, or believing that some day these items would surely be worth a small fortune.
In reality, in our day and age these publications typically sell retail in the $10 - $20 range - even less on websites like ebay. On one recent day our survey of ebay showed listings for over 4,000 John F Kennedy newspapers and magazines for sale. A large number of these were offered for sale for under $10.
The photos you see in the two top rows of this page are examples of some of the most common newspaper, magazine, and books. While these items do still sell, the unfortunate reality is that they sell for very little and dealers typically do not buy these items since they have so many in stock already.
So what is a family to do if they have items like this for sale? First, and most important, don't assume that every item has no value. Buried in your collection of common items may very well be some items with greater value. If you are not an expert in collectibles you need to contact an expert that you can trust. We have seen many instances where valuable items have been found inside otherwise common collections In fact, in more than one instance, the items inside another an item can have greater value than the cover. For instance, after the Assassination, the Texas Democratic Committee produced a limited edition record album for Democrats that were scheduled to attend the Welcome Dinner in Austin, Texas that was cancelled due to the assassination. The record album cover itself has some value - about $50 on average - but the contents of the album can be worth between $500 - $1,000 depending on condition and market condition (Figure C)
In the third row of photos in this article you will see examples of several items that might seem to have little value but actually do have more value than you might imagine. For instance, while the majority Daily newspapers from the day after the Kennedy assassination may have limited value (under $25), those newspapers published in Dallas Texas, the site of Kennedy's assasination sell for hundreds of dollars. (Figure A & Figure B) But don't jump for joy just yet. The Dallas Morning News chose to reprint this famous edition fo their newspaper in 2013 on the occassoin of the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. These reproductions are worth less than $20.
Been to a birthday party lately? Well this souvenir program from John F. Kennedy's birthday party is considered a rare and higly collectible program. It's value is enhanced by the fact that this is the party where actress Marilyn Monroe sang the song happy birthday to President Kennedy. Value today? $1,500 - $3,000 depending on condition. (Figure D)
Figure A Figure B Figure C Figure D
For these reasons we always recommend that families not assume anything about the items that they have. Consult a trusted dealer just to be sure of the value of what you have.You don't want to run the risk of one day telling a story to your grandchildren about how you once had a valuable John F Kennedy item that you threw in the garbage because you did not know it's value!