Determining whether or not old Life magazines are worth more than their cover prices is a matter of time and patience. Some vintage issues of Life command premium prices, while others are worth only a dollar or two, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Certain issues of Life are always valued more highly than others. For instance, the May 1, 1939, issue with Joe DiMaggio on the cover often sells for $150, while the April 13, 1962, issue featuring Liz Taylor and Richard Burton on the cover is priced at $200. The reason the latter is valued so highly is owing to a Topps baseball cards insert within the issue, so copies without this are almost valueless. The average vintage issue of Life sells for only $1 to $10.
The Cape May County Herald reports that other relatively valuable issues of Life include covers featuring Jean Harlow (May, 1937), Marilyn Monroe (April, 1952) and Shirley Temple (March, 1942). Issues with covers designed by Maxfield Parrish also tend to be valued higher than average. While the value of most vintage magazines depends on who was on or designed the cover, it may also be affected by the overall condition of the copy.