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Prints Charming--on eBay

Updated on August 24, 2013
1946 Vintage Print--Michelangelo's Delphic Sybil, Greek Oracle, in the Sistine Chapel
1946 Vintage Print--Michelangelo's Delphic Sybil, Greek Oracle, in the Sistine Chapel | Source
1926 Vintage Print--Hashime Murayama's Fantails
1926 Vintage Print--Hashime Murayama's Fantails | Source
1925 Vintage Print--Edward Herbert Miner's "Water Buffalo"
1925 Vintage Print--Edward Herbert Miner's "Water Buffalo" | Source
1971 Vintage Print--Philippe Weisbecker's Painting of a Mortally Wounded Duck in Flight
1971 Vintage Print--Philippe Weisbecker's Painting of a Mortally Wounded Duck in Flight | Source
1958 Vintage Print--Bing Crosby Mentoring Son, Phil, in Musical Debut
1958 Vintage Print--Bing Crosby Mentoring Son, Phil, in Musical Debut | Source
1947 Vintage Print--Giant Guardians of Siam
1947 Vintage Print--Giant Guardians of Siam | Source
1960 Vintage Print--"Migrant Mother" by Photographer Dorothea Lange
1960 Vintage Print--"Migrant Mother" by Photographer Dorothea Lange | Source
1947 Vintage Print--Rojas Ponce's "Ai Apaec--Mochica God of Fertility"
1947 Vintage Print--Rojas Ponce's "Ai Apaec--Mochica God of Fertility" | Source
1946 Vintage Print--Michelangelo's "Jeremiah the Prophet" in the Sistine Chapel
1946 Vintage Print--Michelangelo's "Jeremiah the Prophet" in the Sistine Chapel | Source

Recycle Dirty Old Magazine Pages and Make Some Mad Money

At the rising climax of stump politicking time, I'm perched on my own sawed off sycamore tree trunk, shouting out to one and all--"Hey, people! Don't throw those old magazines away! Recycle page at a time!"

No, I'm definitely not a green environmental fanatic. But I am crazy about the green that can grow in one's billfold.


I'm not saying you can be rich overnight, but you can definitely tap into an endless source of mad money by realizing the value of things you've long taken for granted.

Like the stash of old Life, Saturday Evening Post, Look, Fortune, Scientific American, Esquire, National Geographic, and other magazines that you found in your parents' home shortly after either or both of them transitioned into an assisted living or nursing home.

Or the overpriced periodicals at the estate sale you attended that you so shrewdly haggled down into a sensible "I'll buy the lot of them for $20!" conclusion.

Or how about that heavy box of stuff that elderly lady in church asked you to haul to the dump for her?

All I'm saying is that there's contemporary treasure in yesterday's trash. And if the thought of rifling through vintage ephemera initially turns you off, I heartily encourage you to try it--you just might like it.

My Passion for This Line of Work

Why am I so passionate (some call it pushy; others use obnoxious; and I've been known to utter the squirrely adjective, nuts ) about this?

Because I've proven to myself in the current Jekyll and Hyde economy that one man, scorned and covered with scars (thanks to Joe Darion for my slippage into his Impossible Dream lyrics), can actually generate an income through the resurrection, marketing, and sales of vintage magazine prints. And you can do the same, whether it's in your spare time or as a full time entrepreneur of nostalgia paper.

Aside from the ways of obtaining magazines that I've mentioned above, you can also find lots, or sets, of magazines on eBay for reasonable prices. Remember, you're on the same team with these vendors of old periodicals...the difference is that you are doing the detail work and can therefore command higher prices per unit. Finding one or two vendors that you can build a long-lasting, trustworthy, and mutually beneficial business relationship with will ensure a never-ending inventory supply.

Where to Sell Vintage Prints

Regarding the sites that you can sell your prints on, the basic global marketplaces are eBay and Amazon. However, with the advent and increasing enthusiasm for and pragmatic applications of SEO business practices, it appears that new online markets are popping up all the time. Just when you think you've heard about the ten latest marketplaces, a hundred more are discussed in literary sharing sites like the fabulous HubPages! (How's that for a self-serving plug?)

Startup Capital

Startup capital will not make a major dent in one's family budget. I accidentally got involved in the business when I purchased a couple of boxes filled with old National Geographicmagazines from a Walla Walla thrift store a few months ago. I paid $32.50 for about a hundred of the old periodicals dated in the 1920's and 1950's. My initial idea was to sell the magazines, one at a time, but when I discovered the glut of these magazines that existed on eBay, I decided I would be better off selling individual ads gleaned from them.

As I began to manually cut out the ads, I got caught up in looking at the beautiful photographs and illustrations that graced each issue. I even began saving entire articles (of which I've sold a handful).

In time, then, instead of experimenting with one new niche--vintage original ads--I was involved with the marketing of two more niches--prints and articles.

My next big haul was the purchase of 200+ vintage magazines (like Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, and Ladies Home Journal) at a local estate sale. This purchase cost me $117.

So, aside from my initial investment of about $150, I also picked up office and mailing supplies--Scotch tape, packaging tape, acid-free plastic sleeves and backing boards (to protect the ads, prints, and articles during shipment), and large mailers. Essentially, I had three different sizes of ads and prints to mail--the smaller National Geographic size; the medium-sized Scientific American; and the large size for Life and similar magazines. These added supplies, also purchased on eBay (hey, I totally support the hand that feeds me!), cost me another $150.

When I first started, I carefully removed the staples and, in some cases, the binding glue, and then cut everything out by hand. This was tedious work, to be sure. Eventually, I learned how to work smarter, not harder, by investing in a Dahle paper trimmer--not the guillotine cutter reminiscent of high school days, but a really efficient rotary, self-sharpening trimmer. I picked one up for less than $60--again, on eBay.

Okay, so we're talking about $350 to get started. Naturally, I wrote every expense off. In addition, my personal testimony is that I quickly made every cent back in less than three months. Plus, I've only tapped the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of my magazine inventory. With each major magazine yielding anywhere from a dozen to twenty ads--more, if you count the partial page ads (and, yes, I've sold a few of those, too), and, as a conservative estimate, five to ten prints ( National Geographic yielded the most because of their liberal usage of famous painter's prints as well as photographs, and Life was a close second), I have scores of magazines yet to dissect.

A Rewarding Venture

Make no mistake--there is an amount of labor involved in this occupation. But--call me biased--it can be a lot of fun, and the rewarding feeling one gets when finding value in something that was micro-millimeters away from being tossed into the garbage is priceless. I never cease to draw a spiritual parallel from this experience--who am I to discard these beautiful vintage photograph and art prints when I myself am God's recycled entity? It might sound a bit corny to some, but I truly ponder just how blessed I am as I'm busily engaged in this activity.

There are so many individuals who have been doing this sort of thing for years. I'm literally a newbie on the block, but I'm willing to share my experiences and limited insight involving a pastime that I can maintain long into my retirement...which, as I'm reminded as I look into the mirror at the quickly spreading wrinkles and gray, is just a stone's throw away.

With a global village perspective at heart, then, I'm certainly open to anyone's questions or comments about this topic.

Just remember, though...if you try to contact me and I don't get back to you right away, it's probably because I'm desperately trying to crawl out of an avalanche of paper clippings and assorted grafitti.

Which reminds me...I just gotta get me one of those GPS thingamajigs that skiiers use. My wife's getting sick and tired of having to dig me out at suppertime.


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  • hawaiianodysseus profile image

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Good for you for helping the niece and other family members out. I love thrift stores and yard sales, but it's those estate sales that hold some cool surprises. Bargain-wise, nothing beats church rummage sales. Just sold a fly fishing (steelhead) paperback book on eBay for $39.99. Even after the costs, I'll net over thirty dollars. My purchase price? 50 cents. Unreal! After months of attempting to talk her into getting started on eBay, my wife finally gave in and joined up last December. 11 months later, she's kicking my butt on some days. As we approach the holidays, there appears to be a flurry of activity in the eBay waters. : ) Thanks so much for stopping by to read this hub and for your wonderful comments. By the way, are you on Bubblews? Talk to you later, Brandi! Aloha, and have a wonderful week!

    Proud to call you friend!



  • CraftytotheCore profile image

    CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

    Hi Joe! Isn't that amazing that we can sell just almost anything! LOL When my daughter was born I started a children's boutique. I had found a couple of suppliers and started selling clothing, toys, party stuff, etc. I would get a shipment, list the stuff, and sell it out by the following week. It was nuts. But, it was a different time too! I closed my shop a while ago to take care of other priorities in my home, but I noticed recently online selling isn't what it used to be. There still is hope.

    It takes a lot of work and patience. Time is crucial. Having the time to do it right is also challenging. I'm so glad it works out well for you my friend.

    I used to work for a law firm and I primarily worked on estates. We had clients who had no idea what their distant aunt's estate was worth. One time I was working on this estate. The client had no children. She owned a modest home with no mortgage. No debt. I went in to do an inspection so we could order an appraisal. I noticed antiques in the living room. I called a local appraiser friend. It turned out that aunty's gravy boat was worth $10,000. She had a complete set of some rare Japanese dishes. Upstairs there was a walk-through attic. It was loaded with rare memorabilia. She netted a few million after I ordered the apprasials. The relatives said she lived like a pauper.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image

    Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    My treat if you're ever in Walla Walla! : )

  • clairemy profile image

    Claire 5 years ago

    You are for the coffee I like a good Italian espresso or Cappucino.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image

    Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Clairemy! I'm honored by your feedback. And it was great fun writing the Hub while enjoying a Mocha Coconut Frappucino at the Starbucks coffee shop on Main Street in Walla Walla. LOL! Thanks so much for your wonderful comments!

  • clairemy profile image

    Claire 5 years ago

    Well done, what great ideas, something worth considering for the future.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image

    Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    You are such a faithful reader, wetnosedogs. Thanks for all the encouragement. Aloha, and have a great weekend!

  • wetnosedogs profile image

    wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

    Thanks for giving the step by step success. Continued success for you.