Friday, June 22, 2012

Superman: Collectible Premiums

Action Comics Number 1
 A CGC-certified 9.0 copy of Action Comics #1, which featured the first appearance of Superman (before he was the star of his own comic book), was sold a few months ago by on November 30, 2011 for (get this) a total of $2,161,000, the highest price ever paid for a comic book. It became the fifth comic book to sell for more than $1 million, with two of the others being 8.0 and 8.5 copies of Action Comics #1.

In the pulp collector world, no pulp is more prized or expensive than the October 1912 issue of All-Story magazine, which features the premiere of Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan. In the comic world, nothing is more valuable or sought after than the premiere issue of Action Comics. The mainstream press has been fascinated by the record-breaking prices and I read somewhere that no more than 250 copies of Action Comics #1 are known to exist. Their value is all dependent on the condition of the comic.

Although ComicConnect did not publicize actor Nicholas Cage as the collector from whom the highly prized copy was stolen in January 2000, it has been widely reported as being the one he acquired from the company’s sister firm, Metropolis Collectibles. It was recovered earlier this year among the belongings inside an abandoned storage unit in California, then graded and placed in the auction.

Sparkle City Comics recently wrapped up its showing of rare, vintage high grade Golden Age comic books with the sale of a CGC 7.0 EP copy of Action Comics #1, for $120,100.

"As always, everything was offered with no reserve on the most fair playing field available, eBay,” said Sparkle City’s Brian Schutzer. Schutzer said he had been traveling non-stop to acquire collections the past few months and that the company would be offering more original owner Golden Age and Silver Age collections in the coming days.
Action Comics Number 1

On a happy note, a struggling family facing foreclosure stumbled upon what is considered to be the Holy Grail of comic books in their basement – a fortuitous find that could fetch upwards of a quarter million dollars at auction. A copy of Action Comics # 1 was discovered as they went about the painful task of packing up a home that had been in the family since at least the 1950s. The couple, who live in the South with their children, asked to remain anonymous. "The bank was about ready to foreclose," said Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of and Metropolis Comics and Collectibles in New York. "Literally, this family was in tears. The family home was going to be lost and they're devastated. They can't figure out a way out of this. They start packing things up. They go into the basement and start sifting through boxes – trying to find packing boxes – and they stumble on eight or nine comic books."

The couple learned online that had brokered the record-breaking sales of Action Comics # 1 copies for $1 million in February and then $1.5 million one month later. They immediately texted a cell phone picture to the firm's co-owner, Stephen Fishler. "You couldn't have asked for a happier ending," Zurzolo said. "Superman saved the day."

Among the most amusing news item came about last month when Metropolis Collectibles and announced they would offer “The Check That Bought Superman.” Many were at a loss as to what to expect. The check was written from Detective Comics, Inc. to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for $412, $130 of which went to acquire the rights to one of the two most famous characters of all time. Compelling arguments could be made for what its value should be. Even Stan Lee got into the act, saying anything under $100,000 would be “a steal.”

The Check That Bought Superman
The check sold for $160,000, making news all over again.

One of the questions that still does pop up, though, is where did this check come from?

“While I was building for our Winter 2011 Event Auction I received a call from someone who wouldn't tell me his name, wouldn't tell me what he had but told me he had something very special. It was a very intriguing way to start a conversation and I must admit, my Spidey senses were tingling. We talked in vague generalities for about five minutes and finally he hinted as to what he had. My jaw dropped,” said Vincent Zurzolo, Chief Operating Officer of Metropolis and

“There was an immediately clear picture of how important this item was. I had the Action Comics #1 CGC 9.0 and a bunch of great Superman material in my auction and I wanted "The Check" as well. The consignor was a bit reluctant and instead of selling immediately we put a one page advertisement in our catalog about the piece. Needless to say there was a lot of interest. The consignor was very impressed with the $2,161,000 sale of the CGC 9.0 Action #1 and decided to put his check into our next auction with no reserve,” he said.

I received a large response from a Superman posting I made a few weeks ago. So... here's some more Superman fun for you.

In a separate press release issued by ComicConnect, the company said, “The check—thought to have been lost over time or thrown away— was recently consigned to by the heirs of a DC Comics employee who had the foresight to save the check. In fact, the story goes that in the early 1970s, after DC Comics had won one of its many legal battles against Shuster and Siegel, the owner told employees to throw out a box of old court documents. But one of the employees found the check and decided to keep it. For 38 years, the check sat in the employee’s dresser drawer.”

“My consignor was extremely pleased with the results. To my knowledge we hit another world record for the most expensive check ever sold. Remember, this is the check that started it all. Without that check being written there is no Superman and consequently no Batman, no Spider-Man etc.,” Zurzolo said.
In closing...
Now that Superman's no longer wearing his trademark red undershorts, in either the comics or movie versions, you might have wondered what's become of them. And apparently, they're in Malaysia, where they're a hot-selling item. According to the New Straits Times, residential neighborhoods in Tampoi have been plastered with ads for "Superman's Underpants," which are supposed to be able to cure sexual problems. The special undergarments, which come equipped with magnets, are supposed to be able to cure impotence and increase penis size. A photo of the advertisement is included for your amusement. Anyone who says Superman isn't generating buzz or saving the day, even in down times like this, needs to reconsider the value of the Man of Steel.

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