Value Of Old Sports Illustrated (With Examples & Ample FAQs!)

Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Alex PT

The value of old Sports Illustrated magazines varies widely. Rare issues featuring iconic events or athletes can fetch hundreds to thousands of dollars, while common ones may only be worth a few dollars. Factors like condition, demand, and rarity influence their prices.

Values Of Old Sports Illustrated Magazines

Sports Illustrated Magazines

We’ve listed and analyzed some of the old Sports Illustrated editions. Let’s see their values in the recent secondary market. 

1. Sports Illustrated #1 

The first edition of the magazine picks the top spot on the Sports Illustrated market. This edition was published in August 1954 and its cover models were Milwaukee Braves’ Eddie Mathews at bat and New York Giant’s Wes Westrum behind home plate. On eBay, you’ll get its raw copy in the $100-200 range. However, be prepared to splash out up to $300 for the ones with a certificate of authenticity. 

2. Sports Illustrated -Tom Brady 

“The Natural” Tom Brady is another edition of Sports Illustrated that’s valuable in the secondary market. You’ll be able go get a CGC 9.8 of the 2004 edition for $1500. However, a CGC 9.8 subscription with an empty white box costs about $1,000.

3. Sports Illustrated – LeBron James 

The February 2002 ‘Chosen One” edition is one of the most popular Sports Illustrated magazines on the market. The latest CGC 9.8 costs about $2,200. By the way, you should know that it was a subscription edition without a mailing label in the white box on the cover. 

4. Sports Illustrated – Mike Tyson 

This is another notable sports Illustrated magazine edition. It was issued in January 1986, and the best offer was accepted on the original $3000 listing. 

5. Sports Illustrated – Secretariat 

A CGC 9.4 of the June 1973 Sports Illustrated edition, costs about $3,120. The Secretariat edition featured the first Triple Crown winner. 

What Factors Influence the Price of Old Sports Illustrated Magazines

1. Age of the Magazine:

The older the magazine, the greater the likelihood of it being more expensive. Collectors often prize early editions of magazines, particularly those which come from the first few years of publication. Sports Illustrated started its publication in 1954, and editions from the earlier years frequently command higher prices.

2. Condition of the Magazine:

Condition is paramount when it comes to collecting any kind of memorabilia. A magazine that is in pristine condition, without any tears, missing pages, or scribbles, can fetch a higher price. Magazines that are kept in good condition or those that are preserved well mirror the collector’s interest in their value appreciation.

3. Featured Athlete in Cover:

The reputation and popularity of the athlete featured on the cover plays a significant role in determining the price. Editions that have popular athletes, historical figures, or iconic moments in sports on their covers tend to fetch higher prices.

4. Autographed Copies:

An autographed copy of a Sports Illustrated magazine is likely to demand a higher price than a non-autographed copy. The authenticity of the autograph is, of course, crucially important. An autograph from a renowned athlete can significantly increase the value.

5. Rarity:

The rarity or scarcity of a magazine issue directly impacts its price. Limited edition issues, discontinued cover designs, or issues that sold out quickly tend to be more sought after by collectors and hence more valuable.

6. Historical Significance:

Issues that cover significant events in sports history, like record-breaking performances, hallmark events, or the introduction of revolutionary changes in the games, are typically more valuable.

7. Market Demand:

The demand and supply theory applies here too. When the demand for a particular issue or edition is high, the price tends to increase. Similarly, the price drops when the demand is low.

What Is The 1st Edition Of Sports Illustrated Worth?

The first edition of Sports Illustrated, published on August 16, 1954, is worth hundreds of dollars, depending on its condition. A copy of the first edition in mint condition has sold for over $1,000 at auction.

The first issue of Sports Illustrated features a cover photo of Milwaukee Braves star Eddie Mathews at bat and New York Giants catcher Wes Westrum behind the plate. The magazine also includes articles on a variety of sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and boxing.

The first edition of Sports Illustrated is a valuable collector’s item for a number of reasons. It is the first issue of one of the most popular and respected sports magazines in the world. It also features a cover photo of one of the biggest stars in baseball at the time. And, it is a piece of history, documenting the world of sports in 1954.

Do People Collect Sports Illustrated Magazines?

Yes, many people collect Sports Illustrated magazines for various reasons. Here are the details:

  1. Historical Significance: Sports Illustrated (SI) has been in publication since 1954, and it has documented the history of sports in the United States and beyond. Collectors often value these magazines as historical records of sporting events and athletes.
  2. Iconic Covers and Stories: SI is known for its iconic covers, featuring legendary athletes and capturing significant moments in sports. Collectors are drawn to these visually appealing covers and the stories that accompany them.
  3. Athlete Memorabilia: Some collectors are fans of specific athletes and seek SI issues that feature their favorite sports stars. Autographed copies or those with significant interviews and features can be highly sought after.
  4. Rare and Limited Editions: Certain issues of SI become collectibles due to their rarity or limited print runs. For example, issues commemorating milestone events or featuring exclusive content may become valuable over time.
  5. Sports Memorabilia Market: The sports memorabilia market is substantial, and SI magazines are a part of this broader collecting landscape. As with other collectibles, the value of these magazines can fluctuate depending on factors like condition, rarity, and demand.
  6. Investment: Some collectors view Sports Illustrated magazines as an investment. They anticipate that the value of certain issues will appreciate over time, making them attractive assets for the future.
  7. Nostalgia: For many individuals, collecting SI magazines is a nostalgic pursuit. They want to relive the sports moments and stories that were significant during their youth or a particular period in their lives.
  8. Community and Connection: Collecting SI magazines often connects enthusiasts with a community of fellow collectors. They may join forums, attend conventions, or engage in social networks centered around their shared interest.
  9. Online Marketplaces: The internet has made it easier for collectors to buy, sell, and trade SI magazines. Online marketplaces and auction platforms provide access to a wide range of issues, making it convenient for collectors to expand their collections.


We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers. These FAQs will help you understand everything you need to know about Sports Illustrated. Let’s check it out!

What Is The Purpose Of Sports Illustrated?

The purpose of Sports Illustrated is to give sports lovers the opportunity to read more about what they’ve read about in newspapers or seen on TV. Andre Laguerre, the managing editor of Sports Illustrated helped the company gain millions of new readers and generate billions of dollars in profit. 

What Is The Most Valuable Life Magazine?

The April 13, 1962 issue covered by Liz Taylor and Richard Burton is the most valuable Life magazine. It featured  Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris baseball cards. Additionally, the May 1, 1939 issue with Joe DiMaggio is also reasonably valuable. 

Why Is It Called Sports Illustrated?

It is called Sports Illustrated because the early edition was targeted towards sportsmen. By the way, before the current magazine stated in 1954, there were already two magazines called Sports Illustrated. The first Sports Illustrated magazines were created by Stuart Scheftel in 1936. Scheftel made the monthly publication of the magazine from 1936-1938. 

How Do You Get A Sports Illustrated Cover?

People get a Sports Illustrated cover by invites from major modeling agencies in the United States and sometimes from around the world. To claim a spot on the Sports Illustrated cover, you’ll have to do well in your modeling career. Take, for instance, a top model agency in a major market like New York has to scout you. Once you’ve scouted, then you’ll be recommended to Sports Illustrated. 

Who Is Sports Illustrated Owned By?

The Authentic Brands Group owns and operates Sports Illustrated, which is an American sports magazine. Sports Illustrated published its first magazine in August 1954 with a circulation of over one million.  Authentic Brands Group won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence twice for the first edition of Sports Illustrated. 

When Was The First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue?

The first Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition was published in 1954. Ever since Sports Illustrated has been working to make its swimsuit issues more extensive and substantial. By the way, Tyra Banks won a spot in 1996 to become the first black cover model for Sports Illustrated. 

Should I Throw Away My Old Sports Magazines?

No! Unless the paper has turned brown or tan or the entire book has gotten wet, it is not a smart move to just throw away your old sports magazines. Some might just be valuable and help you fetch some dollars.

Are There Any Playboys Worth Money?

Yes! A few Playboys like Marilyn Monroe Playboy are still worth up to $4,500 in excellent condition and up to $2,100 in good condition.

Are 1960’s Life Magazines Worth Anything?

Yes! The high end of 1960 Life magazines that includes the present year’s presidential race is worth more than you can imagine. On big marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, they typically fetch upwards of $15. 

Who’s On The Cover Of Sports Illustrated 2021?

American rapper, Megan Thee Stallion, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and Leyna Bloom all have been chosen to be the cover models for the Sports Illustrated 2021 edition. The announcement was made on Monday by Sports Illustrated. These three superstars are expected to be on the cover of the 2021 Swimsuit edition. 

Which Player Holds The Record For Appearing In Most Cases On The Cover Of The Sports Illustrated?

Michael Jordan! He holds a cover record of 50 appearances. The most surprising thing is that none of these hampered his accomplishment.

How Much Does Sports Illustrated Subscription Cost?

A Sports Illustrated subscription is just $20 per year for a one-year print while a two-year subscription for $30 total. By the way, a Sports Illustrated subscription offers access to the best sportswriting anywhere. And this includes unique features, profiles, and rigorous investigative reporting on the biggest names in sports.

Final Words

Most Sports Illustrated editions are not terribly valuable on the secondary market aside from Sports Illustrated Aug. 16, 1954, inaugural edition and the successive inaugural Swimsuit edition in 1964. The 1954 edition routinely sells for between $100 and $1,000 on the secondary market. We’ve reached the final session of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know the value of old sports-illustrated magazines. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!


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