Many CGC collectors are engaged in an activity called “pressing”, which can greatly enhance the value of your comic books. Unless you own a perfect “10”, all comics have some degree of flaws. But, there are good flaws and bad flaws. Pressing is a process in which certain flaws can be literally squeezed out through the application of heat, moisture and pressure.
Pressing was very controversial about 10 years ago. Many purist collectors claim this is a form of restoration. But, the problem is that pressing is not detectible. Unlike traditional forms of restoration such as colour retouching, trimming or tear seals, the key differentiator with pressing is that nothing is added or removed during the “pressing” process. Collectors with a keen eye may suspect that a book may have been pressed but there really is no distinguishing evidence to differentiate a book that has been professionally “pressed” from a book that has been stored for many years under pressure in a tightly packed box. As such CGC does not consider “pressing” to be restoration and even purchased Matt Nelson’s “pressing” company, Classics Incorporated back in 2012 to augment their revenue stream.
Despite this, many people remain critical suggesting that “manufacturing” high grade books devalues the “real” high grade books. Case in point, back in 2011, the highest graded copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 broke a world record selling for $1.1 million dollars. At the time it was the only blue label copy graded at CGC 9.6. Shortly there after, CGC board members noted that another copy of an AF #15 graded 9.6 appeared on the census while a 9.4 copy had quietly been removed. It seemed pretty clear that the second 9.6 copy had been “manufactured”. Many collectors wondered how this would reflect on the value of the first 9.6 copy. Its impact still remains to be seen but I’m inclined to believe that this particular book, in this grade is still rare enough for the value to hold. As long as we don’t see a flood of AF#15’s appear there should be enough demand for this book to actually increase in value over time. Interestingly a third CGC 9.6 blue label has appeared on the census since then.
There are many well-trained book works professionals, including Tracey Heft of Eclipse Paper Conservation who has written several insightful write ups for us.
Matt Nelson who now works with CGC under the new banner Classics Collectible Services (CCS) is a well-known source for CGC collectors.
Joseph Grisolia, is or was the “go to” person amongst CGC board members for “pressing” due to his more economical price points. However, now that he’s teamed up with the newly formed CBCS, his relationship with CGC is unclear.
Susan Cicconi of the Restoration Lab is another great source.
I’m less familiar with Mike DeChellis of Hero Restoration but he is another option.
Stephen Solomon of American Comics and Collectibles also offers pressing service, although his business seems to be currently on hold.
The United States is the biggest comic book market so it makes sense that many related businesses would also be based in the US. However, with the Canadian Dollar fluctuating between $1.25 to $1.27 USD, I’ve had to rethink my comic related purchases. A 25% premium, on top of shipping charges and possible duty is a huge dent in our pockets. As such, I was delighted to discover a local pressing service.
Kevin Polidano is best known as the Comic Doctor within the convention circuit. In addition to being a collector himself, he offers a pressing and cleaning service at very competitive rates. But best of all, he’s local and you can find him set up at comic shows like the TCBS this coming February 22.
Whether you believe that pressing is a form of restoration or not, it has become a fabric of the collecting market. CGC board members have instilled an unwritten rule to disclose pressed books in the spirit of fair play and transparency. I fully support this voluntary action but of course there is no way to enforce this behaviour. As such, any large CGC collection will most likely contain some pressed books.
If you’re planning on selling your books and want to get the maximum value for your collection, you may want to give your books a good press. Not all flaws can be ironed out so be sure to consult with Kevin or any of the other experts before submitting your books. I’ve got a small pile of water soaked books myself which I’ve been meaning to have flattened out so I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.