A National Geographic magazine is valuable as a collectible only if it is rare and in good condition, which usually equates to older copies of the magazine, explains A Guide to Selling National Geographic Magazines. The rarer National Geographic magazines may be sold to a dealer or online after consultation with an expert for current pricing information.
National Geographic magazine was first published in 1888, and by 1940 over a million copies of each magazine were printed each year, making the magazines printed before 1920 the most valuable. For example, a copy of the first issue magazine, October 1888, sells for just over $6,000. XYZ Collectibles states that 1891 issues sell for between $465 and $510, while 1900 year issues are valued between $100 and $200. AGSNGM lists general pricing guidelines for individual magazines in good condition with intact covers by decade: 1910s - $28, 1920s - $13, 1930s - $10, 1940s - $7.50, 1950s - $5, 1960s - $2 and 1970s - 50 cents.
If a collection consists of primarily late 20th century magazines to the present day, there are a few options, all involving donation rather than selling. Libraries, schools, hospitals, and doctor's offices may accept a donation of National Geographics. One final note about modern values is that National Geographic magazine single back issues remain available directly from National Geographic.