Mention "yearbook" to the average person, and memories of senior year in high school or of college graduation rise to the fore. Mention "yearbook" to a collector, and the words "How much is it worth?" immediately come to mind.
School yearbooks have become hot collectibles. Recently, a Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) fan was willing to spend $661.55 for a 1980 (Montesano WA) high school yearbook bearing Cobain's image. And for $432.50, someone really wanted a 1941 New Trier (IL) Yearbook with photos of Rock Hudson and Charlton Heston. (All prices mentioned in this article were taken from online auctions completed between June 01 and June 22, 2006.)
Are you a sports fan? Would you be willing to spend $436.00 for a 1936 John Muir Technical High School Yearbook with a picture of baseball great Jackie Robinson? Someone did. But then, someone went one better by paying $2024.00 for the 1937 edition. Why the huge difference in price? The 1936 was Robinson's junior year and unsigned. The 1937 was his senior year and was signed three times.
Of course, not just celebrity fans seek yearbooks. Many an individual is spurred by an interest in family history or genealogy. That may be what prompted one person to pay $610.00 for a 1925 Howard University Yearbook, while another paid $110.49 for a 1930 from Detroit's Central High.
Not interested in school yearbooks? Yearbooks are printed for a wide variety of fields.
Are you an equestrian? Then perhaps you'd like a copy of the 1957 Arabian Horse Yearbook for $104.23.
Do you collect toys? You might desire a 1949/1950 Westermeier's Toy Yearbook for $39.50.
And if you're into sports, there's no limit to the collectible yearbooks on the market. Here's just a sampling:
- $303.04 can fetch you a 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Yearbook;
- $393.00 will buy you a 1951 Red Sox Yearbook (a 1950 Yankees' is just $157.50); and
- $587.98 will win you a 1960 Green Bay Packer Yearbook featuring Vince Lombardi.
Realistically, most yearbooks never fetch such rarified auction prices. And a search of online auction sites will show that even for established celebrities, there can be a wide disparity in final values depending on school year, condition, etc. That is why it pays to do your homework, and the following resources should aid in that endeavor:
Collectibles Q&A (collectibles under "Lifestyle").
Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine
"Celebrity Yearbook Values" by Brandon Ross.
Star Wars Celebrity Yearbooks
Gus Lopez gives us a look at his highly-specialized collection.
West Virginia Archives & History News (March 2005)
Interesting article by collector Clay Hamilton on the value of school yearbooks to genealogical studies.