For years, I have been buying sports magazines and have been doing so for any number of reasons. They make for wonderful image references and can also be incorporated into a display of a favorite player, team or collecting theme like I mentioned in the Home Run Derby Article. A while back I made a purchase of a nice grouping of League Championship Series Programs. The seller said that he did not know how to grade magazines, but they would probably all be considered Excellent or better. After getting them in the mail, two things occurred to me…first he was probably right about the overall condition…and secondly, just how would you go about grading a Sports Magazine.

When you look at a Sports Magazine, certain things jump out at you much in the same way that features on a card do since the focus is usually on the front and back. Other similarities include wear on the edges or the spin in the case of magazine. Using the “card model” would be fine but there is clearly more to a magazine than just those aspects. I think it’s a safe assumption that a sports magazine would be in its most desirable state if found in the same condition it was when it left the publisher. That being said, I decided to spend some time exploring those things that affect the appeal or collectability of a magazine within the context of what you might deduct points for. Those areas that I would consider minuses are (-):

– % for mailing label

– % for mailing label removed with damage or visible residue that effects presentation

– % medium spine wear

-%+ heavy spine wear or tear

– % for 11-20% of pages having bent corners

– %+ for greater than 20% of pages having bent corners

– % for stains

– % for light or minor creasing

-%+ for heavy creasing or folds.

– % for publications that have been folded and present a more pronounced crease

-% for loose pages

– %+ for missing pages

– % for writing on the inside of the publication (not including autographs)

– % for writing on the outside of the publication (not including autographs)

* Note for autographs, points are not added for them either.

Since some of the above criteria deal in varying degrees such as spine wear, tears, and page condition, this would have to be accounted for in like type variances for just how many points would be lost. In establishing this range for points taken away, you would really have to look at a number of examples and work the numbers out to where a product like mentioned earlier that was in “Excellent” condition would come out someplace in the 70-79 point range. Working off a 100 point range would be a bit of a departure from the current MEARS 1-10 scale, but I think it would be essential given all the factors and varying degrees of conditions for each of those areas.

The other thing that I began to think about was what might be the discriminators with respect to giving plus points to a publication. As much as I hated to acknowledge it, it would have to be the presence of inserts. I know that whenever I get a new magazine in the mail or from the newsstand, the first thing I do is rip the inserts out (no more of that). Since I don’t know what magazines had inserts, you would not loose points for the absence of these, but there would have to be a way to reward true completeness.

The next issue that would have to be addressed is the manner of encapsulation and there are probably a couple of schools of thoughts here. One would be to have the magazine placed in a “top-loader” that would permit the magazine to be removed and used as a reference. This sort of goes against what most “collectors” would be looking for, so this leads to some form of permanent encapsulation or “slabbing”…sort of like cards on HGH or steroids. I guess I would not have a problem with this if I was looking at collecting them much in the same way folks collect cards.

In staying with the card analogy, the issue then becomes what do you collect since cards comes in series or years and magazines really don’t beyond that of the publication itself. This got me thinking about themes that some folks follow already such as:

Team Yearbooks

Team Scorecards

World Series and other Championship Programs

Most magazines that I see offered for sale as collectables outside of the above grouping usually feature or have the value associated with the player on the cover. The issue then becomes how does a “team or player collector” develop a checklist to guide their efforts?
One reference I have always found useful that lays this out rather nicely is the Standard Catalog of Sports Memorabilia (3rd Edition), a SCD Publication. Pages 261-440, spanning Chapters 4-6 provide listings for players on the covers as well as some general pricing information which I suspect is a bit dated. The point here is that this guide can serve as a point of departure for those looking to build a team or player checklist to focus collecting on.

In the end, I have always encouraged people to collect what they like and for them to like what they collect. I have always liked magazines as a researcher but have never given much thought to collecting them as opposed to using them. I may have to reexamine this position, especially if there were standards to help evaluate purchases for items that I don’t get a chance to see first hand… As always, just some thoughts…