TGIF

In last week’s post I wrote about CGC having way less comic book submissions and questioned how they were handling it financially. This week I’d like to turn the same question towards the comic book auction houses. The big players like Heritage, ComicLink and Comic Connect all still put on amazing auctions featuring some incredible books. It’s just that these same Featured or Signature auctions don’t pull in as much money as they did in 2021, 2022 or even the beginning of 2023. Some of the bigger auctions that have closed these past two months looked like they were down close to half of what the take from the “good old days” would have been. I love those glossy catalogues that come in from the big auction houses with those pictures of those books we would do anything (except spend money we don’t have) to get our hands on and with those pictures of all those handsome folks in suits that make up the auction teams. That’s a lot of staffing and the problem is each and every one of them is an importance piece of the success of those houses. These are smart ambitious people obviously doing some great work if we look at how far the industry has come. Commissions from the big auctions might be half what they were just recently: what does this mean for these auction houses? Will there be commission fee hikes? Will there be cut backs? Let’s hope things don’t continue the way they are, if indeed we are near a bottoming out of prices, then I’m sure some modest belt tightening will see us all through.

This had to be one of my easiest cover of the week pick in a long while. I was going through the “to eBay auction” pile and found Friday Foster from 1972, the great Jack Sparling did the cover, which screams early 1970s. This is actually a tough book to snag, should do well on the auction.

Let’s stay with Friday Foster for our splash of the week, Jack Sparling gives us plenty to admire with this beautiful streetscape. For some reason it reminds me of an old Jim Steranko romance comic splash page I features last year. I like this splash page.

So, this is embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped and acknowledged that I was looking at a Mark Jewelers insert ad, most certainly I haven’t seen one since I’ve been writing these Time to Collect posts. I’m sure I’ve come across them over the years but I don’t think I knew the significance and the rarity of them so when I saw this ad in Adventure Comics #427, May 1973, I had to include it as my ad of the week. This insert sure does add a lot of value to comic books!

Last night’s finish to icecollectibles weekly eBay auction ended with some surprisingly strong sales. I was impressed with the finish to our Exciting Comics #53 featuring that great Alex Schomburg cover. Our CGC 3.0 copy sold for $810 USD, the result beat a CGC 4.0 sale from October and was not far behind a CGC 5.5 that sold this month. Nice Golden Age pieces like this have been a bright spot in the market.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

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Spider
Spider
2 months ago

Those Mark Jewellers inserts are such an interesting strain of collecting, people who prize them for their rarity and romance (the idea of a soldier in Vietnam somehow getting his copy of Nova #13 back to his home in the US, both him and the book unscathed, these ideas seem to resonate in our community)…some collectors find them very alluring.

I found a very interesting one in my collection recently; it had it’s mark jeweller insert in the middle of the book (like the photo above) however it had another feature – a second insert, made of cover stock, placed between the cover and the book – all 4 sides of this glossy extra page had GI specific advertisements. I contacted a MJ collector – he’s seen and held several hundred MJ books (has over 400 in his collection and has sold on many more) – he’s seen the extra cover insert 3 times! now that is a rare edition! (Defenders #9 for those that care).

—–

Speaking of auction houses and results; Mark (livefrog), Mel and I are currently discussing the fallout of The Promise Collection (sold at the peak of the boom with what many older collectors deemed to be very lenient grading (i.e. grades are exaggerated)…the sale results of these books were huge at the time, yet within 2 years as they are put on the market the financial losses on a lot of the book are staggering. My favorite example: Detective Comics #146; initially sold on the 19th June 2021 at $28,800, Sold for $19,200 30th March 2023…sold again November 2023….$10,200. that’s a 2/3 loss in 2 and a half years people! (and that is without including all the buyers/sellers premiums into the equation).

Walt, the ONLY ones making money on that book is the auction house…so my ‘thoughts and prayers’ certainly aren’t going to them.

Chris Meli
Chris Meli
2 months ago

Spider, a more striking example is Detective #149, sold $102k 2021, just re-sold at $26.4k. That one about 3/4 loss and much bigger dollar amount.

When this happened I thought it meant the bottom was dropping out. I went back to as-of 2021 price history and population for the book, and I found that my estimate for the book as of 2021 would have been $11k. I never pay 100% of my estimates (because they tend to be enthusiastic), so I wouldn’t have bid more than 70% of this, or $7.7k.

So from my perspective IF I had bought it at this level, I would have had a huge gain. I attribute the actual prices (even the current prices) as insane to wild overenthusiasm.

And of course “the ONLY ones making on that book is the auction house” is clearly wrong – the Promise family made a much larger bucket of money on their sale than they would today.

Spider
Spider
2 months ago

Good point Chris and yes your example is just one on many stories of huge financial losses. The first time I heard of The Promise collection was when it was initially discussed on the board threads that I follow that the books (in certain instances) were overgraded…didn’t seem to dampen the exuberance of bidding!

And it’s been just a stellar week for CGC – with a lovely little fraud scam being discovered where a guy on eBay buys a 9.8 copy of a book, removes it (to later get it reslabbed and sold) inserts a lower grade issue (9.2 for example) with a Mark Jewellers insert – sends it back to CGC for a customer holder – and a MJ notification – the book is then sold as a 9.8 MJ for huge money…the original 9.8 is submitted and sold…and voila – the scammer turns a 9.2MJ into a 9.8MJ – so a $2k book turns into a $15k book. And CGC – who scan every book don’t bother to check the same book is being reslabbed (they just believe the customer that they, the so called experts, missed a MJ insert – despite it adding pages, considerable weight, and a lot of stiffness – missing them isn’t something that’s easy to do). This looks really poor on CGC ‘quality control’, or lack there-of.

I’ve never been happier with my lovely raw books, pressed and cleaned and read and enjoyed.

David Mackay
David Mackay
2 months ago

CGC and other grading services are generally for a speculator market, though there is value for conserving rare valuable comic books. It is and always has been ripe for criminal fraud, and I assure you, this recent Fraud Spider, is just the tip of the iceberg. When there are $thousands to be made, the criminal element will find a way. Until CGC addresses this particular seller, who has also sold HULK 181 cgc items with marvel value stamps, and not noted on the holder, the entire grading industry is questionable.

Spider
Spider
2 months ago

Yes Dave, I just saw the update by Automatic Comics on the Hulk #181 MVS swap – now that is going to hit a lot more people than the ASM#252 MJ, it’s a much more common book…anyone cracking one is going to want to record it…that way they can go back to CGC for compensation…I honestly think that will happen, one of these buyers is going to start a fraud case against the seller – but then things will get litigious with CGC

David Mackay
David Mackay
2 months ago

Spider, Chris and Walt…what did those fleeing criminals see in that up skirt cover? Shades of 2023?

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