Comic book collection fetches £2.2m
Published 23/02/2012 | 08:29
The bulk of a man's childhood comic book collection that included many of the most prized issues ever published has sold at auction for about 3.5 million US dollars (£2.2 million).
A copy of Detective Comics No. 27, which sold for 10 cents (6p) in 1939 and features the debut of Batman, got the top bid at the New York City auction.
It sold for about 523,000 dollars (£333,000) , including a buyer's premium, said Lon Allen, managing director of comics for Heritage Auctions, the Dallas-based auction house overseeing the sale.
"This really has its place in the history of great comic book collections," said Mr Allen, adding: "This is just one of those collections that all the guys in the business think don't exist any more."
Action Comics No. 1, a 1938 issue featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold for about 299,000 dollars (£190,000); Batman No. 1, from 1940, sold for about 275,000 dollars (£175,000); and Captain America No. 2, a 1941 issue with a frightened Adolf Hitler on the cover, brought in about 114,000 dollars (£72,600), Mr Allen said.
Among the 345 well-preserved comics bought decades ago by a Virginia boy with a remarkable knack for picking winners were 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide's top 100 issues from comics' golden age.
"It was amazing seeing what they went for," said Michael Rorrer, who discovered his late great uncle Billy Wright's collection last year while cleaning out his late great aunt's house in Martinsville, Virginia, following her death. Opening up a basement closet, Mr Rorrer found the neatly stacked comics that had belonged to Mr Wright, who died in 1994 aged 66.
Experts say the collection is remarkable not only for the number of rare books, but also because the comics were kept in such good condition for half a century by the man who bought them in his childhood.
Most comics from the golden age - the late 1930s into the 1950s - fell victim to wartime paper drives, normal wear and tear and mothers throwing them out, said JC Vaughn, associate publisher of Overstreet. Of the 200,000 copies of Action Comics No. 1 produced, about 130,000 were sold and the 70,000 that did not sell were pulped. Today, experts believe only about 100 copies are left in the world, he said.
Mr Allen said that 118 of the lesser-valued comics from the collection will be sold in an online auction on Friday that is expected to bring in about 100,000 dollars (£63,000).