What's It Worth?

My wife was poking around in the basement, the other night, looking for things to throw out. For more than 15 years, we've accumulated all sorts of junk, and when something outlived its usefulness, instead of being taken out to the curb, it went downstairs, to our black hole of stuff.

This summer, we made a great effort to throw a lot of that crap out, making room for a place for our youngest daughter to practice on her drum set and for us to finally have that home gym we've been talking about for almost as long as we've lived here.

"Take a look at this," she said, as she held up an old magazine. It was a copy of Tribute Magazine, from spring of 1983. It bore an orange border, and in the centre, an iconic image from arguably the best of the Star Wars movies, Return of the Jedi.



I remembered the first time I saw that film, in an Ottawa theatre that is now gone—it was either the Elgin cinema or the one on Somerset: it doesn't matter, now, as both are long closed and transformed into another business or torn down, replaced by a downtown condo.

I knew I had had one of those magazines, had picked it up in the lobby and read through it before the previews started. Usually, I didn't hang onto them, but Star Wars was pretty big and I did collect a few things over the years.

"What do you think it's worth?" my wife asked, carefully flipping through the pages.

"Nothing," I said. "If it was in mint condition, unread, it might be worth a little bit, but there are crinkles near the spine, some creases on the cover." I pointed to a smudge, possibly left by a buttered popcorn finger, on a white space of the photo. Time had turned the smudge a light blueish-purple. "I don't think something that was free would suddenly be worth money."

"I think you're wrong," she said. "Maybe, someone would pay $100 for it."

I laughed. "You wouldn't get that even if it was untouched, like new."

We looked through the pages. A promotion for Superman III; an ad for a Mercury Cougar, for audio cassettes, for rye and cigarettes; Spacehunter in 3-D, Psycho II, Porky's II, The Terry Fox Story, The Man With Two Brains. The latest in technology, a Commodore VIC-20, was listed at the incredible price of $395.95.

The coverage of Return of the Jedi was extensive, with plenty of interesting facts.

The back of the magazine revealed a beer ad, for Labatt's Blue, back when it came in stubby bottles.

"It's in great shape, for it's age," my wife said. "Surely, with the new film coming out this week, it would be desirable for somebody." She flipped through the pages again, and settled on page 34, at the back. "Oh," her tone dropped.

"What is it?"

"This was my magazine," she said, turning the page towards me. The Show-Stopper Crossword filled the page. Barely visible, some of the puzzle was filled in, in light pencil. "This is my handwriting," she admitted.

"Now, it's worth even less," I said. "If it was even worth anything in the first place."

"We'll never know unless we see if anyone's interested."

So, here we are. What do you think? What's it worth?

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