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Collecting Old Pageant Magazines and Covers 1950 1960 1970

Updated on February 28, 2015
Provocative Pageant Cover Title
Provocative Pageant Cover Title

My Introduction to Pageant Magazine Collecting

So every so often I get into collecting one thing or another. There can be a variety of reasons but typically I see something old at a yard sale or somewhere selling second-hand goods that I really like, then I start collecting. I'm pretty good at not hording and tend to stay around or under a dozen or so items, usually anyway :-)

So I enjoy watching the show Mad Men because of the old 50's, 60's themes, and Don Draper is kinda cool in an oh, so wrong way so why not ? One day I'm in a thrift store and I notice some old magazines and Pageant Magazine caught my eye. There were some from the late 40's, early to mid 50's and one in the 60's, so I started collecting.

OK, not super cool for a guy I supposed to pick up a variety magazine (more on that later) but I did like how the articles took me back in time.

Pageant Magazine Contents

Pageant Magazine was published by Hillman. It ran from 1944 until the last issue was published 1977.

Each issue had plenty of pictures and a wide variety of articles ranging from science, glamour, fiction, riddles, jokes, celebrities, movies, books, etc. etc. I liked a lot of the earlier editions as, not only were they more valuable to collect (all things being equal) , but they also would have some sensational articles about new and/or scandalous things that we take for granted now. Salacious topics in the 1940’s, 1950’s (as well as 1960-1970) etc that we almost take for granted now like women getting divorced in Las Vegas, technology that can tell the sex of an unborn child, how men lose interest in sex (yikes :-), as well as more benign topics mentioned earlier.

Pageant Magazine Look and Competition

A typical issue of Pageant measures about 6 x 8 inches (15 x 20 cm).... actually if you want to get technical the actual size was 5 1/2 wide x 7 3/4 inches tall. Around 160-170 pages depending give or take.

The look and layout of the magazine very much resembles readers digest, though I like the content of Pageant better ... must be that vintage nostalgia, plus better to collect than Readers Digest in my opinion. I have heard thought that their main competitor though was not Readers Digest but rather Coronet Magazine which I have not yet owned but I'll presume was a similar variety magazine.

Contrary to popular belief many magazines today rely more on advertising in the magazine to generate revenue than subscriptions. Yes you may pay a subscription but what really keeps the publisher in business is the ads. Pageant had a much different model in that they carried no advertising and relied on readers purchasing the magazine. Some magazines still do this today. Ever pick up a National Geographic magazine? Very little advertising in NatGeo, not quite like, um ad packed Maxim (better wildlife photos too :-). Pageant was virtually all articles and many pictures and illustrations.

Late Great Character Actor James Whitmore Piece
Late Great Character Actor James Whitmore Piece

Where to Find and Buy Pageant Magazine

Do you like to hunt around Thrift Stores or consignment shops? You can find them there in the magazine sections. As disorganized as thrift stores can be some of them actually do separate out magazines that look more vintage and collectible. Stores that do this you should be able to find your favorite vintage collectible periodical like Pageant more easily. The downside is you might, though not always, have to pay a little more than if you had to rummage through an Everest sized pile of magazines.

Even if you have to pay more my guess is you'll just pay a buck or two. Often though magazines at these places run anywhere from a dime to fifty cents give or take.

If you want to find them more easily, you can look on line at Ebay or other online stores. You won't necessarily find a great deal but it is an easier way to search especially if you are looking for a specific issue in a certain condition.

Scandalous behavior of the 50's :-)
Scandalous behavior of the 50's :-)

Value of Pageant Magazine Back Issues

So what is the worth of Pageant Magazine copies? I was able to sell off most of my collection. I typically collect just enough to learn about something, then I consider if I can make a little money, so I posted and sold just about all of them. You've heard the saying, "Don't quit your day job." while I didn't make much, I did make a little more than I bought them for. There issues that are not worth much at all but some are desirable and you can make a couple bucks and even more.

What to Look For When Determining Value

If you are considering selling your items on sites like Ebay or your own website you might need to try a little trial and error. Do some good old fashioned web research as some are harder to find than others and, as with anything it will set the price. Check completed sales on Ebay and current auctions and you'll have a good feel for what is moving out there.

If you want to look for some specifics that give some potential value to your copies these are some guidelines I was following that generally worked (though I cried out loud when they didn't : ) In general if you have one with all the pages and the cover intact with reasonable wear and tear price weighs most on celebrity and date.... let's talk about these characteristics...

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Which Pageant Magazines are Worth The Most

Here are some characteristics to look for that makes the issue more collectible. Of course rarity and condition certainly apply as with all collectibles but I've found more collectors seem to be interested in these characteristics.

Celebrity Legend Icons: Look for Iconic celebrities featured on the cover and in the magazine. Especially in the 1940 - 1950s range.

Pageant did a terrific cover of Marilyn Monroe, with brown hair no less (oh Norma Jean), in 1947. One of the best issues to have I've seen it sell for $100-$200 though lately I'm seeing more posted so they aren't moving as quickly but still a great issue to have. Kind of the Cadillac for collectors as it has maybe the most famous celebrity and an early issue .

Ava Gardener, Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Dietrich, etc. don't come close to the value of the blond bombshell but their respective issues from the 1950s can get you $8-$10 dollars each. Not bad if you bought them for pennies each.

Issues In the 1940s: Pageant began in 1944 so no surprise issues in the 1940s are harder to come by. Even if you don't have an iconic celebrity you can usually get a few bucks each for these at a minimum if there are in decent shape. All things being equal (and they aren't always depending on content and condition :-) 1944 to early 50's are more desired than the 1960s and 1970s issues.

How Sexy The Issue Is: Well, sex sells I suppose in the 40's and now. I've seen issues with nothing to offer other than an especially sexy cover and some pin up-esque pictures inside sell for at least a few bucks each, even more if there isn't a celebrity identified with the shots.

Pageant Lots / Bulk Sales: People wanting to get their collection going can (and should) buy in bulk so to speak. Sellers group Pageant mags that they don't think will sell well in lots of three or five or even ten if they have them. You can get into a lot like this, especially if the issues don't have especially desirable subject matter for anywhere from $3.99 to $10

Old Competitor Coronet and some other period magazines
Old Competitor Coronet and some other period magazines

Don't Forget to Enrich Your Collection with Competition and Related Mags

When you collect something I think it is best to stay focused. If you collect rare books for example you might stick with rare books about cars you might want to stick with this field until you get familiar with it and develop a good core collection before branching out into books on Indian motorcycles etc. Baseball cards.... stick with Major League Baseball for a while then branch out into the Minors or football etc.

Same goes with Pageant. Stick with Pageant but after a while if you are considering branching out, pick up some other 'related' issues. Coronet Magazine for example was a long time competitor to Pageant. I recently attempted to consign an old Coronet (the shop wound up scrapping it for me... nothing to be had there) but it was good to have a couple competitor issues that likely sat side by side together back in the day.

Classic Vintage Mad
Classic Vintage Mad

Mad Magazine's Relationship to Pageant

Old Mad Magazines are just cool. I had a couple of these. Mad was not always a magazine, it started out as a comic book but was inspired by Pageant Magazine's format to become a magazine. I had purchased an old Pageant that did an article on Mad ... only to find out I was wrong and bid on the wrong copy... it happens... would have been cool to have that issue. Check out the picture of an old 1958 Mad issue I had. I only got a couple bucks for it (and gave the other two I gave away) but it was great to have them.

So What Happened to My Collection ?

I had probably 33 issues at one point with a few others.. Coronet, Mad, Life plus a couple of old Readers Digest too. If you display them they take up space and after a while I started to consign some, auction, etc. Nothing I can retire on but some made a couple bucks. I did recently find a couple more (one of them is pictured) that I'm in the process of selling. I regained some space to start other collections and hopefully found them a nice home.

Thanks for stopping by!


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