Did you hear the one about the 1938 comic book that sold for $3.2 million? That may seem like the beginning of a clever joke, but as you well know, when it comes to antiques and collectibles at auction, anything is possible.
News of the potential record-setting sale spread like wildfire even before the eBay auction for the Action Comics No. 1 concluded on Aug. 25. It seemed, for a few days, the auction was a popular spectators’ event — with people posting bid-by-bid reports on blogs and online news feeds. In the end, two New York comic book dealers teamed up and posted the winning bid, becoming the new owners of the “nearly flawless” 1938 comic book that featured the debut of the first superhero — Superman.
As I was discussing this with Print Editor Karen Knapstein, she summed up the situation in a short and sensible manner, as she is so apt to do, saying, “It’s all about what someone is willing to pay for it, at any given time.”
Check out this fascinating video about the origins of Action Comics No. 1, posted on the Huffington Post.
Considering that another Action Comics No. 1, albeit graded in less pristine condition, previously held the record, selling for $2.1 million, seems to support the idea of “any given day, anything is bound to happen.” Especially, as Karen notes, if you are in a situation where at least two highly competitive people are vying for the same “prize.” Then all bets are off. I think that’s what most coaches are banking on when they put together their roster of players each season as well.
As you would expect, this record-setting auction also generated chatter among the ranks of die-hard comic book collectors. Although perhaps not just for the reasons you suspect. One thing to come out of this is greater awareness of Darren Adams, operator of the Pristine Comics shop, and the man who sold the Action Comics No. 1. Although Adams has been in the collectible cards business for more than a couple decades, this was the first time some in the comic book community had heard of him, explained Richard Brown, a life-long collector and a member of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide advisory board. It also gave Brown the incentive to reach out to this fellow collector to “talk shop” about comic books, and other collectible topics, as both are diverse in their collecting, Brown added.
Although news of the sale certainly brings even more attention to the comic book collecting market, as Brown does his due diligence in preparing for the next Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, he’ll bump up his recommended assessment of the Action Comics No. 1 to $2.5 million, up from his recommended $2.1 million in 2013, but still remaining conservative, as to not be “driven entirely by the market,” he added.
Long story short, it doesn’t really matter what the “it” item is at the center of a bidding battle, because anything can happen on any given day. Which it why we often say collect what you admire and love, and the value of that investment is something you can define for yourself.