It’s springtime, and we all know what that means – spring cleaning! Now, as much as some people are not really the biggest fans of house cleaning (especially when there are other things to do), we cannot ignore the joy and calmness a clean space brings. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably used many excuses to keep things simple when it comes to cleaning, hence never really tackling the attic. But, the attic is where all the good stuff hides, aka things we’ve forgotten about a long time ago.
Well, speaking of the ‘good stuff’, it is almost impossible to not come across a set of old, vintage magazines hidden in the attic or in the garage. Many people simply don’t throw things away, for decades might I add, and somehow this works out in a silly way; coming across old Playboy magazines, for example, is not only nostalgic but can also be profitable. Or, can it?
If you’re sharing the same train of thought, you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore whether vintage Playboy magazines are some treasure hidden in the attic, or is it high time they ended up in the trash bin. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Playboy Magazines – A Quick Overview
What Is Playboy Exactly?
So, as our older readers might recall, there was a time when Playboy magazine was the holy grail for every young man in America, and overseas. Ever since the 1950s, Playboy’s popularity has kept on increasing, popularizing risky, or even fully nude photography for the sake of ‘art’ and celebration of women. Because of this, the magazine has published photography of some of the most famous, beautiful women, including Marylin Monroe, Naomi Campbell, as well as Madonna. After all, Playboy is a men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine, led by no one else but the very High Hefner.
Despite the feeling that Playboy magazine really isn’t around or relevant anymore, let us just say that it is still alive and well. However, it has been almost a decade since the magazine stopped featuring the very thing it became famous for; semi or fully-nude photographs of models and famous personalities.
Maybe this could be a direct correlation with the magazine becoming irrelevant, but we also share the opinion that, well, the Internet is at fault primarily. Despite all of this, it is believed that the very Internet, or rather the so-called Millenials made Playboy bring back nudity.
But, of course, the magazine wasn’t all about nude photography; it featured, even from the very beginning in the 1950s, interesting interviews of public figures, artists, journalists, film directors, and even politicians and religious figures. But, we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t admit that the main appeal of this magazine was the very cover photo for each new edition. People were left wondering who will be on the cover, and who will be ‘brave’ enough to pose nude or semi-nude for Playboy. This is what sold the magazine. This is what also might make it valuable in modern times, but more on that in the following paragraphs.
So, Are Vintage Playboy Magazines Worth Anything?
Well, the answer to this question is ‘yes and no’. As we mentioned, the value of such a magazine largely depends on the very cover image and whom it features, as well as the very condition of the magazine. People rarely kept their Playboy magazines in nice and visible places, or they rarely covered them in plastic to keep the pages untouched and well-preserved. But, those who recognized an iconic moment once they saw it took care of their Playboy magazines, and nowadays can sell them for thousands of dollars to avid collectors across the globe. Let’s take a look at the most valuable Playboy magazines one can come across or purchase;
- Marylin Monroe Edition – December 1953 Playboy Issue
The 1953 Marylin Monroe Playboy edition was actually the very first Playboy magazine issued. There have been rumors about this edition being sold for thousands of dollars, up until High Hefner himself decided to sell his own Marylin Monroe edition for around 5,000 USD. Nowadays, there are claims that the price can go between 20,000 USD and 55,000 USD. According to Paul Fraser Collectibles, a CGC 9.4-graded Marylin Monroe #1 Playboy magazine was sold for a record 71,000 USD.
- Bo Derek Edition – March 1980 Playboy Issue
Bo Derek is an iconic American actress and model, best known for her roles in movies like Tarzan, Bolero, and 10. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she was at the very peak of her career, crowning her success with an iconic Playboy magazine cover. Nowadays, when in mint condition, a Bo Derek Playboy magazine is old for around 12,000 USD.
- Donald Trump Edition – March 1990 Playboy Issue
Who would’ve thought we would see the 45th President of the USA on the cover of Playboy magazine, but here we are. Believe it or not, Donal Trump was a big deal back in the day, and most respected for his success. He was a cultural personality, appearing everywhere, from TV shows to big cinema movies, like Home Alone 2. His appearance on the cover of Playboy magazine in 1990 simply proved his omnipresence. Nowadays, this magazine issue is sold for around 2,400 USD. Of course, he is not nude on the cover (thank God).
- Yvonne Menard Edition – February 1954 Playboy Issue
Yvonne Menard is a well-known French burlesque dancer, stripper, and overall showgirl. She started her acting career in Paris but ended up in the States where she would perform on burlesque stages across the country. She was on the cover of the 1954 Playboy magazine, which made her globally known. Nowadays, the Yvonne Menard issue is sold for around 800 USD, while there are claims that some auctions have seen the price tag reach 1,500 USD.
- Pamela Anderson Edition – August 1993 Issue
Pamela Anderson ruled the ’90s; she was the ‘it’ girl of the time and she was basically everywhere. Mostly known because of her striking looks, she has made a career as an actress, model, and overall TV and public personality. As such, she landed on the cover of 1993 Playboy magazine, alongside the Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd. The issue became instantly iconic and nowadays is sold for around 75 USD in regular condition. However, it is believed that the current price tag of this issue in mint condition can reach thousands of dollars as well.
- Jerry Seinfeld Edition – October 1993 Issue
Jerry Seinfeld, known for his Seinfeld sitcom, is one of the best-known comedians in the world. In the 1990s, his career skyrocketed and made him highly in demand. So, when the October 1993 issue was published, people were stunned to see Jerry Seinfeld, alongside some of the Playmates, on the very cover of Playboy. Of course, the issue was almost immediately sold out, and nowadays it is valued at around 6,000 USD.
What Makes Vintage Playboy Potentially Valuable?
Before we get into the actual worth of vintage Playboy magazine, we need to talk about the things that could make it potentially valuable, to begin with.
- Semi or Full Nude Covers/Photos of Celebrities
Let’s start with the obvious one; semi or full nudity. It is no secret that people are most thrilled about a Playboy cover when it’s extra ‘uncovering’ (pun intended). The more skin visible, the higher the sales; this is basically old news by now since everything nowadays is sold in direct proportion to the amount of skin visible. But, Playboy did this rather differently; nothing came close to this magazine when it comes to nudity.
Another potentially valuable factor would be the scarcity of Playboy ‘special editions’. These editions usually featured popular and famous personalities, whereas other, more regular editions featured models and so-called Playmates (women who lived and ‘dated’ High Hefner, and were also referred to as Playboy bunnies, etc.).
For example, the Marylin Monroe edition circulation was around 54,000 in the United States. This would make the 1950s, up until 1970s editions probably the most valuable, since the 1980s marked a beginning of an era when Playboy started being sold in millions of copies.
- The Playboy Interview
We would also consider the so-called Playboy Interview factor that could potentially increase the value of a vintage edition. As we previously mentioned, all of the Playboy editions featured interesting interviews and articles about well-known personalities. However, some personalities are always ‘better’ known than others.
For example, Playboy did interviews with presidential candidates (Jimmy Carter, for example, who has admitted to adultery), iconic musicians (John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono), and even human rights activists (Malcolm X being the most notable). Getting your hand on the Playboy editions featuring these iconic cultural interviews would definitely grant you profit.
- The Magazine Condition
This may be valid for anything vintage; the better the condition, the higher the price tag. The same applies to Playboy magazines, especially those featuring iconic personalities of the time. For example, a mint condition Marylin Monroe Playboy magazine from 1953 was sold for 5000 USD, and this doesn’t even come close to the highest value. So, if you come across a Playboy magazine that is in rather good condition, even after all the years, make sure to keep on ‘preserving it’ by putting it in a thicker plastic bag and have an expert evaluate it, or even give you tips of how to keep the magazine in good shape in the future.
Other Valuable Playboy Items
As the Playboy empire grew, so did Hugh Hefner’s hunger for other profitable adventures. The very Playboy Bunny logo made Hefner a multi-million, but the fact that he decided to slap it on almost anything made him basically a legend (and even richer). Hugh Hefner ended up selling merch-like items with the Playboy insignia, including glasses, jackets, T-shirts, photography editions of cover images, Playboy interview books, jewelry, barware sets, and so much more.
Nowadays, these items, especially vintage ones are highly valuable among Playboy fans and collectors. Online auctions offer an insight into the current value of these items, and it is definitely in the several hundred to several thousand dollars realm. We wanted to mention these items just in case some of our readers end up finding them while cleaning up the garage or the attic. Make sure to have the items evaluated by a professional, just to be sure you’re looking at an original item. Playboy ended up being so famous, that many dupes and copies flooded the market, so beware as you embark on this journey.
So, are vintage Playboy magazines junk, and should you get rid of them? Well, the majority of them are probably worthless to collectors and those searching for mint editions of this magazine. However, even when not in mint condition, some issues are so iconic that their value only keeps increasing. Therefore, do not get rid of your vintage magazines; have them evaluated by professionals, or do your own research. As we mentioned, some editions simply stand out, and if you do come across some of the aforementioned issues, then you’re good to go. Overall, we hope this was a fun and informative article, and we wish you good luck in your spring cleaning adventures.