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Pricing newspapers over 30 years ago…

pricing_issues_iiIn conversations with people about how I started this business, a common question is, “How did you know how to prices newspapers back then?” Well, the short answer is I didn’t.

This venture started as a hobby with no thought of it turning into a business. But when I started getting too many of a similar title or date, selling off the “unwanteds” became a more common occurrence. My simple thought was, if I had $3 for it, try to sell it for $5. If I did, the price stuck for future issues; if it didn’t, the price dropped to $4.

But this became trickier years later when I was buying for resale but didn’t have enough experience to know what to pay, nor what to price them at. Nor did anyone for that matter, as there were no price guides, nor sufficient auction records to offer a clue.

I was flying by the seat of my pants. If I thought an event was historic, say a major Civil War battle, I would pay the $5 price and increase it by 50% or so. If it sold, then the next time I inched it up a bit more. If it didn’t, I reduced the price a bit.  Never knowing how high customers might go for an event, I might have “inched up” the price of an event 15 times over the coarse of 4 or 5 years until there was some resistance. I was careful to keep records of sales through the years–even in the pre-computer days–which was a tremendous assistance in assigning values to the myriad of historical events covering 300 years of history.

pricing_issues_iDid I sell some great material too cheaply in the early years? I sure did. Looking at some of my earlier catalogs I gladly pay five times the selling price of many items I sold. But it was part of the process. I remember nce having a volume of a Las Vegas, New Mexico newspaper from 1881. There must have been 30 or 40 issues with a small “Reward” ad for the capture of Billy the Kid. I think I sold those issues for less than $20 each. If I had 40 of them how rare could they be? Certainly I’ve learned through the years, and became smarter as well.

But we are still challenged today with some items. As we continue to find truly rare, almost unique issues it becomes difficult to assign values with no history or prior sales. But these are the fun challenges. As much as you may enjoy finding interesting items in our catalogs, I enjoy finding the unusual to offer.

Although this is a business, I have always gotten more joy from buying newspapers than selling them.

20 Comments (Open | Close)

20 Comments To "Pricing newspapers over 30 years ago…"

#1 Comment By mike On 03/01/2011 @ 6:52 pm

2-19-1967 natoinal enquirer

#2 Comment By Verla On 03/13/2011 @ 5:17 pm

I have a august 26th 1953 newspaper never been read it has everything that was in it when it came out and on the front of the newspaper is a picture of abreham lincoln it is in real good condition can u tekk me what it is worth

#3 Comment By darwin harrison On 06/15/2011 @ 10:23 pm

i have a copy of LOS ANGELES EXPRESS dated MAY 15 1915 and the headline of front page reads GERMANY HANDED PRESIDENTS NOTE
this newspaper has a CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY AND OWNERSHIP by THE AUTHENTIC JOURNAL
…..i wish to sell,any idea of value ?????thanks

#4 Comment By TimHughes On 06/17/2011 @ 6:46 am

We find newspapers from World War I to be very difficult to sell. I suspect it was a birthday newspaper for someone born on that date as the event you note is not significant. The value would be minimal. If offered on eBay it might bring $20??

#5 Comment By Bernard Longley On 06/08/2012 @ 2:13 am

I have a copy of The Jerusalem Times dated 4 March 1960, Vol 1 No 1. This paper is printed in English and published by Al-Jihad publishing house. Due to regional conflict this paper ceased production 6 February 1963. Would this paper have any rareity value?

#6 Comment By Jeanette Baptiste On 06/08/2012 @ 2:17 pm

Have a stack of newspapers dating in the 1920’s of the
San Francisco Call
Bulletin. What would be their worth?

#7 Comment By Ivy Gallegos On 10/04/2012 @ 9:42 am

Found 2 newspapers in a box-1st- the headline reads “Henry Ford Dies at Estate” & “Early End of Long Distance Tieup Seen” April 8,1947 & 2nd the headline reads “Ole Miss Stuns Mighty Maryland,21-14” & “Vols Spank Florida,26-12” November 16,1952. Either of these worth anything?

#8 Comment By chris On 06/04/2013 @ 7:46 pm

I have a news paper dated nov 24 1963 with johnsons first day in office and jfk funeral in it iam wondering how much it is worth? thank you in advance chris.

#9 Comment By chris On 06/04/2013 @ 7:50 pm

I have a old news paper dated nov 24 1963 with jfk and johnsons first day in office in it I was wondering how much it is worth or where could I take it to have it apprised? thank you chris.

#10 Comment By Leaetta On 05/29/2014 @ 9:57 am

I have a Centennial Daily Journal wonderingwhat’s it worth in very good condition in wrap in plastic bag still have ink blot on front where printer made a mess up.

#11 Comment By GuyHeilenman On 06/02/2014 @ 9:05 am

Best to ask Tim Hughes directly at: [1]

#12 Comment By Nathan mckenzie On 01/24/2015 @ 12:34 pm

I have a copy of the New York Times , Late City Edition from November 1st 1939. It is in excellent condition and kept in plastic cover. I would like to find an idea of it’s value.
Thank You.

#13 Comment By Larry On 02/05/2016 @ 3:31 pm

I have 2 editions of the Minneapolis Daily Times dated Dec 16th and 17th, 1941. I am wondering if they would have any value? Thank you in advance!

#14 Comment By GuyHeilenman On 02/09/2016 @ 7:04 am

Hello Larry – Without seeing them, it is impossible to tell. However, our history shows that even the best of issues from the 16th go for between $30-$50, and those on the 17th are not collectible. This is just a guess – based only on our previous sales.

#15 Comment By James Swanson On 08/29/2016 @ 3:41 pm

I have some 150 newspapers from years past concerning historical and events of interest.
Some were collected earlier by a relative.. After 51 years, we will soon be moving to a small apartment, and many of my treasures have to go. I picked up two of them at random
One is the May 21, 1927 issue of Corvallis Gazette-Times reporting the arrival in Paris by Lindberg. The other is the February 20, 1962 issue of the Newton Daily News reporting the orbit of the earth by a U.S. spaceship. Each is the complete newspaper. I have the newspapers reporting the bombing of Pearl Harbor. declaration of war, and many more items of historic interest. I would like to sell them so they won’t be lost forever. What is the best way to do so?

#16 Comment By GuyHeilenman On 08/30/2016 @ 11:58 am

Hello James: Please send details to Tim Hughes at: [1]

#17 Comment By Dan B On 09/03/2016 @ 3:55 pm

I have a Dec 8, 1941 Philadelphia Inquirer and was wondering if it had any value. It appears to be in decent condition but looks like it’s 75 years old.

#18 Comment By GuyHeilenman On 09/06/2016 @ 12:02 pm

Hello Dan: Non Hawaii issues, complete, and in good condition, typically go for anywhere from $50 – $120, depending upon the graphic appeal of the front page. I hope this helps.

#19 Comment By Kimberly Toonen On 12/17/2017 @ 7:27 pm

I have a certified authentication (No 198016) packaged original San Francisco Chronicle newspaper dated Tuesday, December 4, 1928. Is it of any value?

#20 Comment By GuyHeilenman On 01/04/2018 @ 2:10 pm

Hello Kimberly – Sorry, but we do not monitor such questions from here. Please send us information regarding what you have to us at [2]. Thanks for your understanding.