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Sports Illustrated magazine began publishing in August of 1954. The magazine has continued to thrive in the 46 years since, gaining millions of new readers and even collectors of the greatest weekly chronicle of American sports.

Milwaukee Braves' slugger Eddie Mathews adorned the first cover. But the debut issue included something even better: baseball cards; or at least replicas of the '54 Topps set. An insert in the issue, the "cards" have made issue number one a favorite. TIME Inc., the parent publisher, apparently stored several hundred issues back then and recently began selling them at $150-200 each; expensive but about what mint copies of the original are worth. The second issue of SI and two more in 1955 also contained the "card" insert and carry a premium value.

SI is most valuable without a mailing label on the cover. These issues, purchased at the newsstand, increase the value by about 25%. Condition is important. Magazines with water or mildew damage, loose covers or other problems, have little value, even from the 1950s.

Cover subjects will increase the interest and value in a particular issue as well. Any superstars like Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan or Ted Williams will drive the price of an issue upward. However, in the 1950s and early 60s, SI was really a "sportsman's magazine" and carried articles and covers about fishing, hunting, water skiing, and dogs. These issues can be found for $5 and less at sports memorabilia shows and on-line auction sites.

Storing your SIs is easy. Just go to a card or comic book show and purchase a pack of "magazine bags" and "backer boards". Slip the issues inside of these, and store them in a box, preferably indoors and away from humidity and heat.