ComicLink President Josh Nathanson is reporting the recent sale of an Action Comics #1 in CGC 6.5 for $625,000. This is the highest sale ever for an example of Action Comics #1 or any other comic book in the condition of 6.5, and the third-highest amount ever paid for any example of Action Comics #1.
“This is an important record result for a monumental issue and demonstrates the continuing strength of the market for top-end material” says Nathanson. “Action Comics #1 introduced Superman to the world and ushered in a new age of superheroes. The influence of Superman and the wave of heroes he inspired over the next 80 years are so great that this comic transcends the boundaries of any particular hobby and stands as one of the most important cultural icons of the 20th century. Because of this, examples continue to accelerate in demand and rise in price. This may seem like a lot to pay for a comic book, but we actually have a backup buyer for the 6.5 and buyers waiting in the wings for others!”
Only two examples of this landmark premier have ever been certified by CGC at the 6.5 FN+ tier and just three in total have ever been certified higher (single examples in CGC 7.5, 8.0 and 8.5). Not only is the CGC 6.5 one of the top five examples ever graded, but it is also one of just 50 in the world ever certified by CGC in any condition. Of those 50, only 28 in total have been graded CGC Universal, meaning that Action Comics #1’s significance is equally matched by its scarcity.
“It is extremely unusual for a book of this caliber to change hands, so it is always exciting to see one find a new home!” says Nathanson. “This result reinforces the standing of Action Comics #1 as the most important and sought-after comic book in the world and clearly shows the willingness of ComicLink’s client base to aggressively pursue items of this value level.”
As the press release states there are only 28 Universal graded (unrestored) copies of Action Comics #1 and there are only 3 graded higher than a 6.5. The actual grade here is irrelevant; the buyer has bought a copy that is top 5 in grade.
Let’s look at how this Action Comics #1 did in relation to the Guide.
The 6.0 Fine value is $240,000 while the 8.0 VF value is $600,000.
According to the formula Action #1’s Guide value should be $330,000 (see formula below) so this ComicLink sale fetched just below double Guide. The book is one of the hottest collectible properties period and this 6.5 sale has more to do with relative scarcity of grade than with the buyers love for the 6.5 grade. The price does not seem crazy once you have all the data.
This is a great result and can do nothing but raise even more awareness to the potential profitability of collectible comic books.
This Action #1 sale got me to thinking about the 6.5 grade so I want to go off on a tangent a bit.
I hate the CGC 6.5 grade. To me no other grade is as frustrating for what it gives and does not give.
The Overstreet Price Guide usually gives modest even increments for all the grades leading up to the 6.0 Fine grade so if a book is $20 in 2.0 Good then its $40 in 4.0 VG and $60 in 6.0 Fine. If I was buying a 5.0 VG/F I’d be looking at the middle of the 4.0 and 6.0 grades and coming up with a Guide value of $50.
The gulf in Guide value between the 6.0 Fine grade and the 8.0 Very Fine grade is all over the place and can sometimes be close to 3 times the 6.0 Fine Guide value. A heavily traded comic like Amazing Spider-Man #129 has a 6.0 Guide value of $120 and an 8.0 Guide value of $314. To figure out the 6.5 grade Guide value we usually take the 6.0 and 8.0 difference then divide it by 4 (the number of grade increments between a 6.0 and an 8.0) then add this amount to the 6.0 Guide value. So here we have 314-120=194, 194/4=48.5, so 120+48.5=168.5. So we have a 6.5 Guide value of $168.50.
So in the above Spidey example I’d have to pay $10 extra to upgrade ½ a grade from a 5.5 F- to a 6.0 F but I’d have to pay an extra $48.50 to upgrade ½ a grade from a 6.0 to a 6.5.
On books like Amazing Spider-Man #129, Hulk #181 etc. is this worth it? These are common books in mid grade. Yes, you’d shell out good coin to go from a 9.2 to a 9.4 or even from an 8.5 to a 9.0 but from a 6.0 to a 6.5?
I’ve historically found the 6.5 grade very difficult to sell. It doesn’t look that much better than a 6.0 and you seem to be paying too much for the small improvement.
The market should be driving these 6.5 prices closer to a 6.0 value but from auction results I’ve seen this isn’t happening. May’s ComicLink auction had a few solid CGC 6.5 issues up for grabs. These were not stellar super rare top 5 in existence grades nor were they the high end books like Amazing Fantasy #15, Action #1 etc. I looked at a couple of basic run Golden Age Action Comics #s 60 and 85, Avengers #2, Journey into Mystery #84, Fantastic Four #5 and Amazing Spider-Man #9.
The only comic whose price was pushed down towards the 6.0 guide value was Amazing Spider-Man #9, the rest all exceeded their 6.5 Guide value! These were not hard books!
I have to revisit all my nice mid grade books with a price gun!