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Vintage Star War's action figure tops $76K in record-setting sale

The 'force' certainly was strong during Hake's Americana & Collectibles final auction of 2017. A sale that saw two vintage Star Wars action figures surpass $50K, amidst other record-setting moments.

YORK, Pa. – Hake’s Americana wrapped its 50th-anniversary year with a November 14-16 auction that set multiple company and auction-industry records. It crossed the finish line at $1,754,464, with vintage action figure leading the way. All prices quoted are inclusive of 18% buyer’s premium.

Capping 50th Anniversary Year

“It was a sale for the history books,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Americana. “First and foremost, it was the highest-grossing individual sale of our half-century in business. It also capped our most successful year ever. That's in terms of the grand total for all sales conducted within a twelve-month period. There was a very strong bidder turnout, and virtually every category met or exceeded expectations, from antique political items all the way through to original comic art from modern-day artists. Many significant records were set for individual items and categories.”

The centerpiece of the record sale, the 100% AFA-graded Russell Branton Star Wars collection, produced one of the event’s top lots: a Kenner Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi double-telescoping action figure. Presented on its original blister card, the coveted 1978 figure sold within its estimate range for $76,700. 

Star Wars Action Figures Dominate

Obi-Wan action figure blister card

Kenner Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi 23 Back-A, AFA 80 NM double-telescoping action figure on blister card, 1978, $76,700.

From the same collection, the highest-graded example of a 1978 “Yellow Hair” Star Wars Luke Skywalker figure was hotly pursued to $50,622. This is against a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$20,000. Its astonishing price set a new record for any Luke Skywalker figure. In addition, another highlight was the Anakin Skywalker prototype figure. It is from the 1985 toy line for the film Star Wars: The Power of the Force. It garnered 17 bids before settling at $34,981 against an estimate of $10,000-$20,000.

Always one of Hake’s strong suits, political and campaign memorabilia was unstoppable. The category was led by an extraordinary rarity: a 1920 “Americanize America Vote For Cox And Roosevelt” jugate button. One of only four high-grade examples known and possibly the best of any in existence, it landed just shy of its high estimate, at $47,279.

“The Cox-Roosevelt jugate was an outstanding performer. It not only achieved a record auction price for a button of its specific type but also for any sort of button, political or otherwise,” said Winter.

Bidders Turn Out For Comic Books

There was yet another category whose top seller eclipsed all others: vintage comic books. A CGC-graded 7.5 VF issue of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15 exceeded expectations. An expectation of reaching $100,000 or more. Published in August 1962, the sought-after issue introduces The Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and is the first to show him on the cover. In conclusion, sixteen aggressive bids propelled the Silver Age classic to $140,760, a world record auction price for the title in its enviably high grade.

Another ephemera lot deserving special mention was the December 1953 issue of Playboy #1 featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover and inside as the publication’s first-ever centerfold. CGC-graded 8.5, it sold for $29,205.

In addition, 0riginal comic art was in demand across several sub-genres. Charles Schulz’s art for a 1957 Peanuts daily newspaper strip was bid to $25,441 against an estimate of $10,000-$20,000; while John Byrne’s 1986 cover art for the Fantastic Four #289 comic book finished well within its estimate range at $24,727. Furthermore, Daniel Clowes’ edgy work for Dark Horse Comics’ Urban Legends #1 (June 1993) was on target at $19,800.

Sports Memorabilia Attracts Bids

Homestead Grays real-photo postcard

Real-photo postcard of 1930 Homestead Grays, Negro League Baseball; includes four Hall of Famers, $17,523. (All photos courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles)

The enduring interest in Negro Leagues baseball memorabilia was evident during the sale, as well. For example, a real-photo postcard of the 1930 Homestead Grays drove in $17,523. The card's lineup includes four Hall of Famers. 

“We could not have been more pleased with the results of our third auction of 2017. The excitement and high prices it generated told us in no uncertain terms that the state of the market for high-quality, impeccably provenanced vintage collectibles is stronger than ever,” said Winter. “We can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will be like for the memorabilia hobby and for our business.”

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