I’ll get back to my regular Undervalued Spotlight posts next week. This weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing a relatively new and exciting segment of the market so I thought I’d put some thoughts down into words and share them.

It used to be CGC 9.9s were anomalies, random lottery winnings that brought the lucky submitter a nice influx of cash. I used to quickly rush any books that came back 9.9 to auctions wanting to cash in as quickly as possible, hopefully before the next CGC 9.9 made it onto the CGC Census.

Today I’m seeing the beginnings of what I predict will be a thriving CGC 9.9 marketplace.

It’s all about supply as in you need a certain amount before an actual market in the stuff can exist. A supply will lead to transactions and in turn these transaction results will rise or fall and be influenced by many of the same market factors that affect all other grades with an obvious extra weight being put on Scarcity of Grade.

Which books emerge as the foundation to this new market will be dependent on a numbers game, I’ve come up with a rough vision of this initial market that can obviously be totally wrong but it makes sense to me so I’ll present it.

CGC 9.9s are where the big boys will want to play, collectors and investors at the highest levels always target the best of the best so this will be their domain.

Scarcity models I see for Gold, Silver and Bronze Age comics seem to follow a formulaic pattern that has books becoming scarcer as the grades get higher, this happens at rates our brains can process and accept. Examples;

Batman #1 (Golden Age) has 1 CGC 9.2, 2 CGC 9.0s, 3 CGC 8.5s and 5 CGC 8.0s.

Tales of Suspense #39 (Silver Age) has 1 CGC 9.8, 4 CGC 9.6s and 20 CGC 9.4s.

Incredible Hulk #181 (Bronze Age) has 1 CGC 9.9, 114 CGC 9.8s and 272 9.6s.

Now to me these numbers make sense, the Golden Age top grade doesn’t have that many books below it because the 2nd best and 3rd best grades are scarce too.

With the Silver Age we see things open up a bit below the top grade so while the CGC 9.8 Tales of Suspense #39 may be off the market the 24 9.6/9.4s act as the top of the market. A market with only 24 copies floating around is a tight market and prices realized for CGC 9.4 Tales of Suspense #39s are impressive.

Jumping over to the Bronze Age we see things open up even more. Yes the lone CGC 9.9 Hulk #181 is off the market (as is the lone PGX 9.9) which leaves the 114 CGC 9.8s the absolute top of the market for Hulk #181. So for the big boys a CGC 9.8 White Page Hulk #181 is the best possible book they can own and demand still outstrips supply by a massive margin.

This above pattern/model basically falls apart once we his the Copper Age/Modern Age.

Let me show you the CGC numbers for New Mutants #98 as of this post;

New Mutants #98, there is 1 at CGC 10.0, 11 at CGC 9.9, 2,556 at CGC 9.8. For this book the current high end market is CGC 9.9, there are simply too many CGC 9.8s to make them an effective high end item meaning supply is controlling the price to below $1,000 – heck even I can afford one. So for deep pocketed fans of Deadpool and for high end investors in the comic market CGC 9.9 is the new high end standard for this book and that is something we could not have said a decade ago.

Worried about CGC 9.9s eventually not being scarce? Take heart, as of this post there have been 12,329 CGC Blue Labels graded meaning for every 1,120 books sent down 1 gets a CGC 9.9. There would have to be 25,000 graded copies out there for the CGC Census to reach 24 for New Mutants #98 at this rate.

Why did I pick 24 ? So I can compare New Mutants #98 to Tales of Suspense #39.

Quick, which is the bigger character/worldwide phenomenon? Deadpool or Iron Man? The answer might depend on the age of the person you ask but the point is that both characters are huge global franchises.

So why does one of the 24 best copies of the 1st Iron Man get over $100,000 while one of the 11 best copies of Deadpool get only $11,000?

That was a question I asked a friend of mine when I was explaining all this back last fall. I think I explained a little too hard because he went out and bought a CGC 9.9 New Mutants #98 for $11,000 and change. He was one happy camper when that recent copy went for $23,000 plus.

Still, why the huge gulf in price? The characters might have the same level of popularity, Deadpool is twice as scarce yet only gets a fifth of the market price? Is it because New Mutant #98s are so plentiful? I think that is why but in the end it shouldn’t matter because for the very top of the market Scarcity of Grade should be the ultimate barometer. Does the CGC 3.5 price for Tales of Suspense #39 affect the market for the CGC 9.4s? Does the CGC 8.5 price for New Mutant #98 affect the market for the CGC 9.8s?

Maybe this is something the market needs time to grasp?

Anyway, back to the budding new CGC 9.9 market. Currently there are 10 CGC 9.9 copies of Amazing Spider-Man #300, enough I hope to start seeing some consistent sales.

Imagine a collector hunting down all the Spider-Man Black Costume/Early Venom books in CGC 9.9. I bet there are a few on it as we speak. Amazing Spider-Man #252, 258, 298, 299, 300, 315, 316, 317, Spectacular #90, Team-Up #141, Web of #18, Secret Wars #8… talk about an untouchable registry set!!

So how is this market going to develop? Spawn #1 may be a good barometer – there have been a lot of CGC 9.9s (65 of them which is a lot relatively speaking) for a while and they trade heavily – the pattern is that the prices have been trending up and have doubled over the past 2 years and I think it could do even better as more Copper Age/Modern Age key issues join the “I wanna own 9.9s” party, issues like X-Men #266, etc.

Anybody out there starting up a 9.9 collection? Anybody selling them as soon as they get them?