40-year-old oversight results in singular trove of rare comics

DALLAS – In 1968 Ralph Chicorel, needing to finance his family’s move from Michigan to Wisconsin, decided to sell the Golden Age comic collection that he had painstakingly assembled as a boy. He invited local dealers and collectors to view the collection and submit bids on the comics he had bought off the newsstands, from 1939-1947, when new comics cost 10 cents. The final bid was $3,500, which to the man on the street at the time would have seemed a staggering amount to pay for old comic books.
Fate, though, had different designs than for the story to end there. Ralph wasn’t able to find all of his comics when it was time to sell. The rest of them turned up later, and by that time, his short-term need for cash was past. His successful career negated the need to sell, and he watched over the course of decades as the price of old comics soared.
In 2009, the comics he forgot to sell are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the long-hidden second half of the collection will anchor Heritage Auction Galleries’ May 21-22 Signature Comics and Comic Art Auction, which will all be sold without reserve. When comic collectors see which comics are offered and what sort of condition they’re in, they will surely have trouble maintaining their composure. Titles like Batman #1, Marvel Comics #1, Marvel Mystery Comics #9, Daring Mystery Comics #1 and Gene Autry Comics #1, all in remarkable condition, populate this amazing, single-owner trove.
“Somebody was watching over me, I think,” Chicorel said. “Go figure.”
“Just when everyone speculated that there were no more great ‘undiscovered’ comic collections, this astonishing collection came along,” said Ed Jaster, Vice President of Heritage. “Lots of people saved comic books, but you almost never see them in true very fine to near mint condition. Also, Ralph had an uncanny knack for buying the ‘key’ issues that would end up being valuable later.”
The collection was so good that when Heritage contacted Al Milgrom, one of the Detroit-area collectors who bid on the collection four decades ago, he immediately remembered Chicorel’s amazing collection all these years later.
“It’s one of the great regrets of my life that I hadn’t enough money to buy this stuff,” said Milgrom, who went on to become a well-known comic artist and editor for Marvel Comics and other publishers. “It was all the very best, very earliest Golden Age books in the best condition I’ve ever seen. “
“I had an aunt who knew the fellow who had the comics,” Milgrom continued. “I drove over to his house, and lo and behold there were all these well-preserved Golden Age comics … runs of all the great superhero stuff from issue #1 on. I really wanted to get them but I had no money. There were early issues of everything … Whiz #2 … he just had everything. All-Flash #1, Flash #1. The condition was unbelievably good.”
Milgrom ended up finding a friend who was willing to be a fellow “investor,” but their pooled funds came up short of the $3,500 winning bid.
More than a few of these single comic issues will likely sell for well more than $3,500 by themselves in the May auction, Heritage’s comic experts say.
“I’m hesitant to put a total value on a collection like this,” said Jaster. “Let’s just say that a major collection like this should bring a substantial number. It will be exciting to watch whether you’re a buyer or an onlooker.”
You can view highlights of The Chicorel Collection online right now at www.HA.com, where you can read detailed lot descriptions and download full-color, enlargeable hi-resolution images.
To view the full catalog of the May auction, go online to the May 21 Signature® Comics and Comic Art Auction Catalog.
For more information, call 800-872-6467 or visit www.HA.com.