This post is coming at you from Ottawa, after a few days hard slogging in the National Archives, so bear with some tired eyes and a short text.
This time there were 66 books on offer and most were of lower or very low grade. Would the auction for these books support the strong results of the last ComicLink Whites auction in February, or would the results fall flat because of the lower grades and not many really key books?
Well, it looks to me like were still not in Kansas anymore when it comes to WECA comics or as they are commonly and affectionately known, Canadian Whites. These books are making their own statement and are definitely coming into their own. More and more collectors seem to be getting clued into this as more becomes known about them and their scarcity becomes better appreciated.
Here are the results and I leave the comments to you. There are some eye-opening results for some books and the total for all sales was $35320.
|Triumph 13||4.0 Q||1,600|
|Wow 15||3.0 Q||1,600|
|Better V3 N4||3.0||1322|
|Bing Bang V6 N4||6.5||1270|
|Better V5 N9||2.5||1100|
|Better V6 N1||5.0||900|
|Grand Slam 56||6.5||850|
|Bing Bang V3 N6||6.0||775|
|Lucky “7” 1||6.5||749|
|Canadian Heroes V2 N5||4.5||653|
|UN War Heroes nn||3.0 R||645|
|Bing Bang V5 N2||3.5||605|
|Three Aces 6||1.8||555|
|Spy Smasher 2||1.5||550|
|Wow 2||0.5 R||550|
|Three Aces 5||2.0||508|
|Canadian Heroes V3 N2||5.5 Q||500|
|Lucky V3 N10||2.5||500|
|Canadian Heroes V5 N4||4.5||450|
|Weekender V1 N1||2.5||440|
|Grand Slam 3 Aces 49||8.0||425|
|Funny Comics 10||2.0||358|
|Commando 14||5.5 Q||331|
|Grand Slam 55||4.5||300|
|Wow 14||7.0 Q||300|
|New Dime nn||1.8||280|
|Weekender V1 N2||4.0Q||276|
|Three Aces V2 N12||3.0||255|
|Grand Slam V4 N2||2.5||239|
|Young’s Whittle Craft||4.5||235|
|Lucky V5 N6||0.5||227|
|Great Stories nn||3.0||225|
|Three Aces v3 N2||1.5||185|
|Three Aces V2 N3||1.8||180|
|Freelance V3 N27||5.5||175|
|Robin Hood V2 N6||1.5||175|
|Spy Smasher V2 N7||2.0||175|
|Canadian Heroes V2 N4||0.5||166|
|Grand Slam 3 Aces 47||3.5||165|
|Captain Marvel 12||2.0||160|
|Spy Smasher V3 N3||2.5||160|
|Freelance V3 N29||5.0||155|
|Lucky Coyne 1||1.8||135|
|Spy Smasher V2 N9||0.5||120|
|Grand Slam 3 Aces 47||3.0||115|
|Grand Slam 3 Aces 48||2.5||70|
Here are some questions that might be asked.
- Why are beat up and incomplete books still getting solid prices?
- Why are the relatively common, full colour late Anglo-American books getting these prices?
- Why did the beat up, reprint of American content, New Dime nn., get what it got?
Most puzzling result: Grand Slam 56 at $850.
I think there is no one answer.
It was a combination of completionist collectors doubling down on their current investment of Canadian books and new collectors who may find four colours preferable to two.
I wonder if there are American “speculators” who follow the comic news ticker tapes voraciously looking for the next big thing and don’t as complete a knowledge of WECA books as they should. They may have deep pockets and these amounts don’t mean that much to them. The results of the New Dime and the Grand Slam 56 indicate this for me. The result of the chewed up Triumph 9, which finished second, is a little harder to explain. Why does such a disfigured book command such a price?
Those CGC 0.5 grades were getting stupid prices only because that was all there was to choose from. I’ll go out on a limb and say prices would have been only marginally higher had all the .05s been 1.8s and the 1.0s had been 2.0s. It was the utility of ownership at play.
That’s why I knew the Triumph #12 would be the top book. Still a dog Triumph #7 CGC 0.5 with all kinds of pages missing gets $850, wow!
As for the “weaker books” scoring big prices, well we have to remember that this is all new. The few of us that have been in the “Whites” game for a while have our preconceived notions of which books should carry more value but in the end it will be the mass market that decides.
These results are fantastic, they make the February results look like bargains.
Oh and by the way, I bid on about a dozen books and was outbid on all except one, man those Maple Leafs went high. I won the Weekender #1 for $440.
Basically, what we witnessed was a feeding frenzy on what may be perceived as the last offering of a large group of Canadian Whites. I can unequivocally confirm that this second offering is the remainder of the collection that has been consigned. So now it remains to be seen if savvy collectors are going to get their Whites slabbed and subsequently consign them to clink. One thing is for sure: new collectors will unfortunately be priced out of this niche arena of collecting. Moreover, existing collectors will have to dig deep into their pockets to acquire new books. I personally was dissuaded from bidding toward the end of the auction and acquired NADA.
All those FCugly or C.F. missing 0.5’s might be on their way to getting married if anyone has a trove of coverless or incomplete Whites. Thats my guess why they got such high bids.
So, Walt, is this the new normal for these Canadian war time books? I tend to think that it is… that comic people are taking a second look at these books because of all the information coming out about these books recently. A lot of people seem to want to have one of these books in their collection and their nowhere to be found (for sale at least). Owning these books in your collection is some thing special, even more so if you are Canadian. I think that that part of it will never disappear.
This is the down side of what is happening in the World of the Whites. Most collectors will have to be satisfied with reprints and will be precluded economically from getting an actual WECA book into their collections. Only a certain strata of books falls into this category and these Canadian war time comics have just climbed up to that plateau, at least according to these two CLINK auctions.
Collectors don’t do that sort of thing, do they, Jim? :-}
I am very interested in the board analysis of auction results. You guys are so knowlegable. As experienced collectors you must see the results as a shift in market forces since you have been following the whites market. Is it not possible that this has been the reality of limited supply all along.
Honestly Jim I don’t think so? You would know better than me but I think people just bid on them because they wanted them and they were actually available. I bid on some of the ugly books. I didn’t win much that’s for sure but I was happy I won a couple books even if I had to overpay for the privilege 🙁 I think Walt was bang on when he said the bids wouldn’t have been all that much higher if the grades were better. People just wanted “a” copy
I think the only reasonable solution is for Stephen to sell us all his collection. That will fatigue the market and bring prices back down. Yup, that’s the only way.
Sounds like a plan Dan. You will need to contact the lawyer of my estate or sanction the hit… LOL
There’s nothing that a hitman or laywer can do that a nice heart to heart with your wife can’t achieve! 😉 LOL
I’m not quite sure what you are asking, Steve. The scarce supply of these war time Canadian books has been recognized for decades. Most are the equivalent of Gerber 7 or 8s. What hasn’t been there has been the understanding of how cool and distinctly Canadian these books are. The Lost Heroes documentary, the Nelvana reprints, and this column have helped to contribute to this understanding. People are now more familiar with the characters that some fantastic creators threw into these books. Collectors want some representative copies in their collections if they don’t have any and those collectors that do have some want more of them.
I can remember when you could buy copies of these books for $10 and $20 each and small stacks of them would sit on dealer’s tables at cons with everybody walking by them. Nobody wanted them. They were seen to be inferior, by default, because they were up against hot marvel silver age books and solid golden age books that everybody wanted. Now that more people know better what they are and that they are a solid little brick in the edifice of our Canadian culture they have become excessively in demand.
I can only see their place in the collector’s market become more pronounced.
You are right Ivan, things have changed and I think there is no turning back for this collecting strain. Steve, I think the thing was before that these things traded within a relatively tight circle of collectors. Many of the books trading hands were being passed between collectors that knew each other or were bought from dealers that has set up through precedent a pricing regime.
Now that these things have hit the open market we are seeing just how insulated this “relatively closed market” was before.
My newest plan is to tear up all of my Canadian Whites and sell them one page at a time to fools. There seem to be quite a few out there. I mean, why sell a mint book when you can get stupid prices for people’s rejects and cast-offs? Yep, I can see the future of this hobby now: buying back the Canadian Golden Age one page at a time!
Ahh, no need for that Mel. The newest thing is just take any old golden age comic that’s not selling and get it slabbed with a “Bell Features” on the label and you’re all set to make money.
Check this Wow #1 Fawcett comic as an example:
As long as the slab says Cdn. you can charge what ya like.
Ah, Mel, I can see how this feeding frenzy appals a true collector and honest lover of these books. I’ve resigned myself to being priced out of the market and have to stand pat with the few examples I have.There is nothing nostalgic or hobby-like about this monetary elbowing of collectors out of the way by some with deeper pockets in the rush to possess copies of these books.
Are these prices just a flavour of the day result or are they going to stick? I’m scared it’s going to be the latter and there’ll be no turning back and I don’t know how we take this hobby back again?
I’ve seen some mistakes by CGC but nothing like this. There’s no Wow Comics #1 Bell Features in 4.0 in the census and no Fawcett Wow #1 in the census so I don’t know what this means. CGC put Bell Features on my copy of Wow 1 when it should be Commercial Signs of Canada.
Crikey! that is appalling indeed. More proof positive, if any is needed, that CGC is a profoundly inept third-party grader. Where do they get their employees? In the schoolyard?! Any supposedly reputable agency that can mix up an American Wow with a Canadian Wow and even manage to attribute the Canadian version to the wrong publisher needs a thorough overhaul if you ask me. No one should feel comfortable with this kind of nonsense. I hope somebody actually buys the damn book and then sues them for misrepresentation. I know I would if I could pony up the cash. This market is a joke, and not a very funny one.
There is a new third party grading company on the near horizon with a top-notch grader back in the pilots seat which hopefully will pay more attention to details.
It would be nice if they reached out to actual collectors, not just dealers who hardly turn an inside page these days, to tell them what is actually inside beyond some simple text on a label and if they can incorporate a digital version of whats inside the slab so we can see beyond the front and back cover and also give us a real time price guide portal to go with it but now I’m just dreaming.
Slabbing books are, at best, a means of a professional grade and restoration guide prior to a sale but useless to a true collector. A digital version of what is between the pages is not a lot to ask these days or else deslabbing is the only option if you are a true collector at some point in the modern collecting experience.
Canadian comics may have reached their peak this year and become the Big Little books of the future as all the collectors of the older generation move on and the media formats leave it behind.
This is the year where the stories live or die depending on what we do to support them.
Sorry to comment so late on this thread, I believe like Walt said thatpeople were willing to dig deep and pony up just to get a copy for their collection of the hot thing on the market, as for prices reached some of us who are used to dealing with Whites when books we are used to paying 20-80 dollars for all of a sudden hit 850, let me tell you I started eyeballing my doubles later that evening as for more hitting the market if they are in better shape I almost dread seeing what astronomical prices they achieve this time. Maybe we should put a hit out on Stephen to start the next auction off, I think Deathstoke is cheap to hire since his books sell for less than our treasured Whites
“Astronomical prices” indeed. The game has changed for most of us in mid-play. I was lucky enough to pick up a lovely copy of Nelvana a couple of years back for only $500. Imagine my surprise when a similar copy of the damned thing leapt to $13,750 in the previous ComicLink auction. You might think I would be thrilled to realize such a potential profit, but I’m not interested in selling. However, I feel so sorry for the people who truly love these characters and have been frozen out of ever owning an original copy. This must be where the desire for beat-up crap comes in. “Oh sure, I’ll pay through the nose for that Triumph your cat barfed on because that’s the best I can do.” Don’t be a sucker!!! Wrecked books are wrecked books no matter how you cut it. If people keep paying stupid prices for garbage that will become the norm.
You may prove to be right in the end, Jim, but I have a strong feeling that the WECA books are going to stick as solid and distinct pieces of Canadian culture. The turn out to be a short-lived fad with American collectors, but I don’t think Canadians will ever let go of them. They are truly books we can call our own and this lends them an incomparable worth.The more people who find out that we really did have a set of rich, creative, and entertaining comics embedded in our culture , the more people will want to know about them and have them in their collections.
Good point, Tony, but the question remains as Jim put it in his comment, are the whites going to turn out to be a “pet rock” or Howard the Duck of the 21st century, or are they going to stick. The prices people are willing to pay now may be considered reasonable or even cheap in a year or two from now.
I really agree with this, Mel. Wrecked and incomplete books are junkyard scraps unless some speculators raise this to another absurd level and start marrying these carcasses into profit making Frankensteins.
Mel, I was just thinking about this more and I sort of feel bad that my desire to get knowledge out to a wider audience about these books in the form of this column and the article that will be published in this year’s Overstreet, has led to such a “mutation” in the field of collecting these war time Canadian comics. I felt that it would contribute to creating more of an interest in these books and the people who created them but what it looks like it led to was an hyper-demand for these books and a feeding frenzy whenever they come up for auction. Maybe the blame isn’t fully mine, and I’d be a little puffed up to think that it was, but it the degree to which this has happened is neither anything I intended or wanted.
I wouldn’t beat myself up too much if I were you. This feeding frenzy is more the result of a perfect storm of info. Comics Book Daily’s informative posts, the Lost Heroes documentary, the Nelvana reprint project and your article for Overstreet wich seemed inevitable to me. Add to that a horde of deep-pocketed speculeeches and the historical/cultural significance of these books takes a back seat to cold, hard cash.
Ivan you are at the very forefront of this push to raise awareness for the Whites. As Mel mentions above there are now thankfully many fronts on which the awareness battle is valiantly being waged.
I can’t see how an increase in prices brought about by an increase in demand can be seen as anything but a positive. These are early days and increases in prices usually dislodge hidden supply thus tempering further price increases. Will this happen? I hope so for a couple of reasons, first demand can be satisfied and second it can be satisfied at a lesser price.
In the 1950 and 1960s there were small communities of comic collectors in the US that knew all too well the importance of comics like Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27. Comic book culture’s strong push into mainstream pop culture has made books like those beyond the budget of these core collectors.
Initially these comic purists had access to these books at cheap prices, once demand grew with the casual public prices skyrocketed.
I’ll go so far as to add that that early wave of collectors from the late 1960s into the early 1980s were looked upon as ruining a good thing for those hard core purists that had the books to themselves for the 2 decades prior.
Was this a bad thing that more and more people wanted to own early Batman and Superman comics?
Perhaps we would be in a better place if these comics did not become so sought after and that they remained niche for the purists?
Ivan. Your efforts have EDUCATED and enlightened many new collectors and historians. You have done a good thing here, my esteemed colleague. I await each week with anticipation for your next “Whites” blog. Without your efforts, it would be conceivable that much of the record could be lost. You have give us so much insight into this otherwise lost history, and you have absolutely no reason to feel that you have driven up the prices. As Mel stated earlier, there are several impetuses in place that may have driven up the demand. Take heart with your labours of love: these blogs. Kudos and accolades to you!
Thanks for this sobering perspective, Walt. Of course you are right. The “market” is an entity all of its own operating almost independently from, often in diametric opposition to, the “hobby” or “love” of just collecting. It reminds me of one of those pre-hero Kirby or Ditko Marvel/Atlas monsters that, on occasion, rear out of a swamp or the ocean and terrorize humanity for six pages until things settle down again. Eventually, things will settle down and the monster will become a price guide and in this “tamed” sense, disgruntled in the giant electrified pen of CGC grading, we’ll come to contain and accept “The Wrath of WECA – Terror from the Tundra” and live on in this tentative equilibrium.
Thanks, Stephen. Appreciation from you, Mel, Walt and so many other readers of this column are certainly reassuring. My lament for the hobby is a bit naive and the irony that my exploration of these books may have partially contributed to larger market response to them really operates independently of my efforts. I want knowledge and appreciation of our first truly Canadian comics to extend to a wider audience and market forces be damned. I do want people to “profit” from the things I’m finding out, but not necessarily in the way that it seems to be happening.
I agree this is feeding frenzy by speculators and dealers eager to have a piece of the action on a new, “undiscovered” corner of the market most of them hadn’t heard much about before. For a time there really were only a handful of dedicated Whites collectors on the hunt. I remember overpaying for many common books until I gradually educated myself as to what was out there. I just wanted to get my hands on anything and expand my knowledge.
You are so right, Robert. I also want to see if there’s any bump after the Overstreet article comes out at the end of July.
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