Sell High!

Back in the spring of 2021, I was having a real tough time buying comics! My ICE site went from around 600 CGC books in inventory to somewhere near 170 at the height of the madness to buy graded comics. Everyone wanted to buy off me but nobody wanted to sell to me, they were holding on to their books because prices were spiralling up on almost everything.

Fast forward 6 months and I can report that people are selling! I’m getting collections offered to me left and right, my peers on the east side of Toronto and my boys in Montreal concur, books are becoming available. I’ve been getting offered both graded and raw collections, I like both though the CGC stuff is less work but the trade-off is I’m paying a higher percentage for them.

We’ve slowly got our ICE inventory back up to about 550 CGC books, my goal is to hit 1,000 by the new year but the issue I’m having is that they sell quickly so I’m going to have to find a lot more CGC books to go in to offset the volume leaving. I’m going to try real hard not to let the inventory fall like it did this past spring.

I don’t kid when I say there has never been a better time to sell, again though, we may be saying the same thing this time next year as well. At least for the people having to sell these are good times and it is obvious that there are many more that don’t really need to sell simply willing to cash in on some profits.

Economics 101 tells us that when supply increases prices should drop and we may have seen that in August, I’m smart enough now to know how dumb I am in this market so I can’t even venture a guess as to what will be going on three months from now.

I do believe online sales will continue to be strong as the world enters an uncertain Fall with its forecast fourth wave of the pandemic. My advice is for you to be active in the marketplace even if it is just picking up cheap fun books you want to collect. Focusing on and having fun with our hobby can only be good for our social and mental health, just take extra care in managing the budget.

In the meantime I will keep buying, I’ve been around long enough to know that things are not always this plentiful and when the next dry spell of supply hits I’ll have boxes and boxes of great comics!

Speaking of great comics I’d like to feature one that closed on our internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction that ended Sunday night. Amazing Spider-Man #258 at CGC 9.6 with White Pages sold for $147.50. ASM #258 has just lied there dormant for decades, nobody willing to see it for what it is, an Amazing Spider-Man key issue. In ASM #258 we learn that the costume is an alien symbiote leading the way to all kinds of future goodness.

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1600

12 Comments

  1. “I’m smart enough now to know how dumb I am in this market” – I’m not quite smart enough but I’m trying to learn. Look at this past weekend’s Heritage Auction and understand my difficulty.

    The bad news: Incredible Huk #181 CGC 9.2 ow-w sells for $11.4k – this was a horrible 67% of my estimate based on fairly recent data. This is an end of February price, down from the highs of April-June that maxed out at $19.8k. Not a bad relative to the moribund 2018-202 level of around $7k, but otherwise very ugly.

    The good news: Tales of the Unexpected (remember that one?) highest graded from the late fifties to mid-sixties selling for around $1k up to nearly $3k. Yes these are highest graded of books that are already rare in high grade, but otherwise completely off the radar. I think these and similar results say the long-term, deep-pocketed collectors are still seeing the whole Golden Age/Silver Age market as repricing upwards.

    As I said in a prior comment, I think we are seeing value slosh out of the books that went up by multiples earlier in the year and into the rest of the market. I would rather the rising tide lift all boats, but I think it is encouraging that these bad results for books like Hulk #181 and GSXM #1 don’t seem to be stopping people from bidding up many other books. I also think the market seized on your “buy Silver Age DC” almost before you said it. Like these Silver Age Unexpecteds, any really nice Silver DCs that I’ve had my eye on have gone for very healthy prices. At this point these books have nothing to gain from Disney/Marvel mania, so I again I think there are a lot of collectors going in for the long haul.

    The middle news that I will probably kick myself about later: a very top example of Showcase #17 sold in this auction for $13k. This book had so much going for it (Overstreet lists this as their #1 SF book), and a Marvel first appearance of this high grade and vintage (if there was one of this vintage) would probably go for ten times this price, but sales in lower grades suggest this was a fair price. If I wasn’t already exposed to Showcase I would probably have bid above this sale price.

    My read is the increase in supply is “profit taking”, which is a terrible term for what is just portfolio rebalancing. Rough if you really believed Hulk #181 was going straight to the moon, but otherwise indicating a healthy market. I don’t buy the “summer doldrums” argument for weakness in the three caballeros one bit. There isn’t one ASM #129/GSXM #1/Hulk #181 speculator who is saying “I am not going to pay attention while I’m at the beach” – it is simply too easy to keep up on the handful of super high grade sales. The big sales April-June were fought out by a handful of enthusiasts, some of whom who have now lost their nerve. The majority’s view is what is important, and this member of the majority would have paid last year’s $7k for that Hulk #181 9.2, given what I see in the rest of the market.

    Overall I think the picture is good: balanced supply/demand, broad strength, and interest going out into all corners of the market. But of course I am dumb in this market, so….

  2. I love your analysis Chris and your optimism in the overall market makes sense because I see signs of it as well. Do two dumbs cancel each other out?

  3. If your dumb Chris…I must be catatonic!
    I want to believe that eventually, raw comics will be more of an exciting investment prospect then simply buying graded books. Yes… I agree with Chris’s assessment that a graded book is a sure thing for an investor. Raw comics are like betting on the ponies, but a darned lot if people gamble and the reason is… its exciting! Tell me how many great finds in large collections have surfaced graded… I bet few and far between. Now I am not against grading books… but the current role model… mainly CGC is lacking do to insufficient ability to grade the number of books that make there way to Florida. I have a friend who gets a lot of books graded… some took nearly a year to get returned. To me this is not a good business model. CGC needs to have more facilities then the one down in hurricane alley ( I wouldn’t send anything there during hurricane season)! They should probably have a Northeast facility and a west coast facility so greater number of books can be graded and turn around times reduced as well as saving on shipping costs. Yes… I know there are other graders… but they can’t be that good if they are so rarely mentioned!
    The reason I bring this up is my feelings of needed to liquidate most of my collection and wondering what the best way to do it is. I might not have a huge number of high grade books but I do have quite a number that do have value. While I would love to have many CGC’d, the turn around time becomes very problematic. That git me to thinking about all those collection ‘finds’ and the fact people were excited about them and guess what… they are raw books! The new Wild Cards of comic collecting! I await your sage responses….

  4. Gerald, you brought up a key problem that I don’t see any good answer to. I wish the marketplace had embraced CBCS, but it didn’t. I see clear reasons for this, but the punch line is that CGC owns the market and now is a huge bottleneck. Raw holders have two bad choices: sell raw and get a bad price, or wait a year for grading and see where the market is then. This should be a good market for knowledgeable dealers with capital, because they are the main outlet for raw sellers who want or need to take the first option. I think consignment is probably the way to go if you want to sell now – that way, if the dealer can’t offer you what you think you can get, you can at least float the book out there and see if anyone bites. On this front, it might be worth talking to MyComicShop (sorry Walt if I am talking up the competition). I think they will take the book, assign their grade, but give you latitude in pricing. They have a reputation for very conservative grading, which in some sense works against you, but on the upside this seems to attract risk-seeking buyers who think they will get books that are way better than MCS’s assigned grade.

    I think CGC is aware of the issue but they have an inconsistent flow problem. This past year has brought unprecedented flow (speaking of hurricanes), and if they expand too much they might end up with a lot of excess capacity soon. This is why it would be better to have a bunch of smaller operators, but it is what it is. If you are willing to pay more for your highest value books to be graded, CGC offers expedited services – this is presumably what was used for those “finds” you are talking about. If you don’t have to sell immediately, I would suggest tiering your books and sending them to CGC. I would say pay up to even 20% of what you think the value of the book is for grading – I am almost certain you will get that back for any book worth $100 or more. (I wouldn’t bother grading books worth less than $100, it’s a loser’s game.) So if you have a $1000 book, pay up to $200 and I am sure they will turn it around quickly. You are going to be much better off paying that premium (which won’t be $200 generally) to have a graded book to sell. Send your ~$200 value books for standard grading and wait until next year. Prices may fall, but in the end I think it is much more likely that you will end up with more money if you wait for them to be graded. Grading opens up direct online selling (via eBay) to you. If they are not graded you will take a massive hit (in most cases).

    Also I wouldn’t worry about CGC being in hurricane alley. The facility is not just CGC but all of CCG, and I have been there (they weren’t thrilled about letting me in). They are ready for a lot of disruption, and I’m sure their insurers review this often.

  5. CGC should franchise.

    I would happily send books to a Toronto-based CGC franchise, saving the hassle, of cross-border fees, declarations, worries about the books’ safety and security during their travels in the U.S. (with all the hurricanes, tornados, flooding, fires, blizzards etc).

    Canada is a safe haven (weather-wise) when compared to the U.S.

  6. Thanks Chris… thats just the kind if incite full response I was looking for! Of course I agree with Klaus… CGC should franchise… yes more employee cost… but offset by more revenue! If your reading this CGC… get a clue… you can do MUCH better! ( Hopefully Chris Owen is wrong that there ARE only five of us reading CBD)!

  7. There are more of us lurking around here Gerald, just too lazy to post.

  8. Has anyone come across ‘If it was CGC’ed’ sellers?

    I encountered the odd one over the years; mostly at yard sales and flea markets. You see some books for sale but they’re priced way over guide. For example, a book which guides at $100. priced at $500. The seller says, “if it was CGC’ed, that book would be worth $1,000. Yeah, right.

  9. I have seen sellers of raw books who apply a CGC type grade to them… but if course its simply their opinion. However they usually don’t price it AS having been graded. Your seller has wishful thinking I believe….

  10. Klaus… was it the Richie Rich “Chips in the side pocket” cover… how could you pass it up at THAT price???

  11. The seller wanted what he felt was half the CGC price IF CGC had graded them, which they didn’t. He didn’t want to sell them for guide, believing he could get more for his stuff.

    They were late 50s Batman and in reasonable shape. I did a quick visual grade and figured they were about Fn and guided at about $100. a piece. He had 6 comics, priced at $500. a shot. I told him that CGC would have to grade them for him to be able to say that they were worth that and he just brushed me off, so I left.

    There were a couple more guys I met over the years that used that same idea. They probably suckered somebody into buying them.

    I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the Richie Rich comic you mention.

  12. It was a joke Klaus… there is such a book but its late in the run of a not very well collected title… well… unless your Chris Owen!

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