The purpose of writing is to record life itself, a challenge Life magazine took literally. On the understanding that a picture was worth a thousand words, LIFE launched a new era of photojournalism, stunning the world with incredible images capturing the events of the day. In our internet world we’re used to streaming video of everything from Martian robots to athletic people, neither of which seem to wear clothes, but we’re also drowned in an ocean of images. Life curated only the best, presenting the energy and emotion of the past. And now they can be yours.

A collection of 683 Life magazines, including four copies of the 1936 #1 where they made their defining leap from general interest to photojournalism, is a gallery of the century. The covers alone are an artwork of time, capturing everything from koalas to cannons, Martin Luther King to the men on the moon. For decades it wasn’t just that Life covered famous people, it was that you were only famous if you were covered by Life.

This magazine auction offers a collection of one of the most successful magazine relaunches in history, from the gathering storms of the late thirties to the sunshine generation of the seventies. From the darkness of war to the shining achievements of the space program, this collection captures life as it was lived, not as it was remembered. No musty history book but a vibrant magazine, whose advertisements tell you as much about the age as the articles. Because all these people lived. And they read Life.