Saturday, July 14, 2012

Trading Triumphs and Tragedies

Doug:  Today's conversation centers on your personal collecting triumphs and tragedies.  Quite simply, when have you staged the coup of the century -- purchased or traded for some killer swag without giving up the farm.  Or, and maybe this occurred when you were younger and not-so-wise, when did you just get taken?  Maybe an older kid did the ol' "I'll give you these 30 (read: current) books for those three (that have the 12c price on the cover)."  By the way, the latter happened to me when I was 10.  But I sure got a lot of Thors!

Doug:  I may have told this story before, but my biggest "victory" was the purchase of a longbox chock full of Batman-related titles -- back in the summer of 1989.  Batman, Detective Comics, Batman Family, The Brave and the Bold -- you name it, it was all Batman.  I bought it at a flea market for the low, low price of $30.  Later, I picked out of the box and made many small sales to a co-worker who was wanting to purchase some vintage stuff to enhance his son's growing collection.  I made him the deal that I would grade them, and we'd use a price guide that was three years old, to simulate what we both considered to be a fair market.  Over the next few years, I sold off most of that box for literally hundreds of dollars.

Doug:  So how about you -- care to share your tales of wow and woe?


Redartz said...

So, Doug, did you keep a few of those Batman gems for your personal collection? I hope you found a few keepers...

As for me, success has largely been found hitting flea markets. Like you, Doug, I bought a box at one such market a couple years ago for 60 dollars. It held about 150 silver age books; many in rough shape but some goodies= Fantastic Four 21, Flash 175 (second race with Superman) and Batman 181 (first Poison Ivy).

My 'downer deal' happened as a naive 15 year old at my first comic con. One dealer had a copy of Silver Surfer #1; priced at a then-exorbitant 8 dollars. It looked like a nice copy, though, so I bought it. Opened it later to find at least 3 pages missing and the cover detached. Returned it to the dealer, who basically said "let the buyer beware". Learned to examine more closely since...

J.A. Morris said...

My biggest coup was stumbling on a used book store in Tampa/St. Pete. It was operated by 2 older women. I found copies of a half-dozen Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-men issues...for about $5 a piece. I paid about $20 for $100 worth of comics. It was obvious the owners had no idea what they were selling, hopefully they never found out.

Also, one of my childhood friends turned 14 and decided he was too old for comics, sold most of his collection. I picked up a copy of Hulk #180 (first "cameo" appearance of Wolverine) off him for $3.00.


I could've bought ASM #129 for $20. This issue features the 1st appearance of the Punisher. I didn't have a lot of money as a teen, but I probably bought something else that's worthless today instead. A month later, the same issue was $60. It's worth a few hundred bucks today.

(Is anyone else having spell check issues here? Every word I typed here is marked as if it's misspelled.)

Chuck Wells said...

As my three children were being born in the late 80s, and with the resulting need for cribs, diapers, formula, and household bills that couldn't run late (lest we all end up on the street), I sold the bulk of what I had collected since the early 1960s. I'm talking long, complete runs of Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, X-Men, Justice League of America, etc. Virtually all of the key stuff from those runs that you would find desirable and damn everything as close to pristine as it could get. You have to realize that back issues ordered from ad page vendors during the early bronze age years, were technically file copies. Plus toys, games, models and a 90% complete run of bee-yoo-tee-full Doc Savage paperbacks. Conan's, Tarzan, sci-fi, lotsa goodies; gone but not forgotten.

So, family comes first, and I sold stuff off in clumps to pay the bills. I quickly realized that Overstreet price guides were for the benefit of dealers only and that your gem of a book was only worth "guide" for the dealer. Through esoteric mumbo-jumbo that still doesn't make sense, the snake oil salesman mentality of shop owners means that they have to make three times what they are willing to give you.

A process of elimination led me to a small group of dealers, ebay sellers and network of friends who know my preferences and price range and I've reacquired most of my favorite stuff (and then some), but I still hold Overstreets multiple of guide mentality, CGC, and the big auction houses in contempt for running what is essentially a rigged game. Oh, and none of those sources will ever get my shit again.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

About twenty years ago my mother told me about some comics for sale at a farm. I don't remember who offered them to her (coworker or something) but she said they wanted $100. That was a princely sum for me back then, but the lure of treasure won out.

She came back with this large crumpled cardboard box with a lift-off cover, and I delved in. Inside were a couple hundred comics dating from the late 1960s! This collection had been put together by a girl (her name had been written on a few), and they were well-read (average grade VG). I was thrilled.

The funny thing is, while I was over the moon over the handful of Batman books (including Batman 155 and some Batgirl issues), Superman titles (many issues of Lois Lane -- including a Catwoman crossover -- and Superman 199, the Flash race), and a couple dozen Wonder Woman (including the first plainclothes issue, 178) it was years later that I began to truly appreciate the other gems. Most of them were Dell or Gold Key. There were lots of TV and movie adaptations that didn't thrill me (I've sold most of those), but there were multiple issues of Mighty Samson, Tarzan, Korak, Kona and lots of oddball titles that I am now glad to have a copy of...they provided new galaxies to my personal comic book universe.

My only other large "find" was a stack of about a hundred or more comics by late aunt gave me at a family gathering. Lots of Archie, Scooby-Doo and other Harvey comics from the early 70s. Great stuff (to me anyway)...I'll always remember her for that.

Wishing everyone another find can happen. Look at the story that just made the rounds in the news about the box of million dollar baseball cards discovered in a family cellar!

david_b said...

Well I had a few things like that happen.. When I was 12 or so, my Dad's girlfriend (a few years after my parents split..), gave me a boxfull of comics mixed in with Mad mags her grown son had. Most were worth much, but it did have FF 125, 1st issue of Marvel's Warlock, and GL/GA 89. Not too bad of a haul, but only have a few left.

As for ASM 129, that's an interesting story. I vividly recall buying it when I was a kid, enjoying it as another issue. I knew about 10 yrs ago obviously that the Punisher origin issue was a nice commodity to have, but he really didn't mean too much to me as a character. In some forum, some guy offered me a hundred for my Fine+ copy, and told me he was getting Andru's autograph at some con, so I figured (if the story was true..), that he'd get far enjoyment out of it than me having it just sit in my basement for another 10yrs, so I sold it to him. It was about the going price, so I didn't feel like I got taken. I just wanted some other collector to give it a good home.

I wouldn't consider it a tragedy; sure, some days I wish I would have held onto it. But I'm more happy to think some fan got it autographed and it's sitting on some mantel (instead of a basement..).

Garett said...

Hey Anonymous, you're not the only one who loves Archie from the '60s and '70s! I think that's the best period for art and stories--Dan DeCarlo, Samm Schwartz who drew the best Jughead, and the distinctive look of Harry Lucey.

Garett said...

My best finds have been with art books. Richard Schmid Paints the Figure, which is worth hundreds on Amazon, I found for less than $10--twice!

My misery was passing up buying Conan the Rogue graphic novel by John Buscema for $10, because I only had exactly $10 on me. I went back later that day and it was gone, and then I found out it was selling on ebay for upwards of $100. Eventually I got a copy at a decent price after much ebay watching--and it turned out it was a guy in my hometown selling it, so at least I saved on shipping.

Roygbiv666 said...

I was born in 1969. Around ... 1975/76 my uncle brought over a basket of , I dunno, 50 comics from the 1960s. I think it was mainly DC. They were given to me and a few other kids. Mine found their way into my collection, and, eventually, a copy of Batman #160 previously in the care of my neighbour who gave it to me. Still have it.

My cousins seem to have been big fans of Superboy and the Legion because they had a lot of early 60s Adventure and Action comics with the LSH. Loved reading those when I visited.

When I was about ... 10, I had gotten my first set of comic long boxes and came home one day to find some of them missing huge number of comics. Turns out my brother had ... borrowed them ... for a comic sale across the street. I wasn't too pleased. I got most (some?) of them back, other showed up in some convenience stores and I bought them back. Among the missing ... ASM #129, which has been mentioned twice upthread. Bummer.

Doug said...

Redartz --

I do have a NM copy of Detective Comics #400, but the rest of the box is long gone. Some of the keys that went out so I could finance my complete run of Avengers included B&B #59 (first Batman team-up), the aforementioned debut of Poison Ivy, a couple of copies of the Riddler's first Silver Age appearance, lots of Adams books, and so on. It was all midgrade or lower, with a few exceptions. I'll be honest -- I was a complete capitalist about the whole thing; perhaps I should have been a bit more sentimental.

I thought of another story. When I was in elementary school we had a family member who always set up at local flea markets. On Sundays after church we'd always go out to say hi, and check out the month's wares. One time there was a dealer who had many longboxes of Silver Age DC stuff. Being a Marvel Zombie even in my youngest years, I was like, "meh...". But my mom and dad knew I was excited about the vastness of the collection. As we certainly weren't rich, I think my dad inquired about a deal but then took a wait-and-see approach. Of course, the next month the same guy was set up, sans collection. When I walked up to his booth, I distinctly recall him saying, "Oh, you're the little guy who I think I've disappointed about the comic books." He'd sold them later that same day, a month earlier.


Rip Jagger said...

I don't really have any "coup" stories. But what does occur to me is the time I found an out-of-the-way thrift/antigue store which offered up some offbeat things, including a gaggle of Charlton back issues.

At the time (1975), comic book shops were only just beginning in the larger towns and there was nothing like that in my neck of the woods, especially for back issues.

Finding a bunch of Charlton horror comics filled with lush Don Newton, Tom Sutton, Joe Staton, and Steve Ditko artwork was a real treasure. I had just then leapt into the revived Charlton (they were trying to make a show with George Wildman at the helm). So finding some back issues really cemented my interest and gave me a solid cornerstone of comics to begin to build my collection.

I'm still building it, with Charlton being the only company I still get back issues for, for the most part.

Rip Off

Al said...

As I type, I know for a fact that there are several boxes of silver age DC comics in the basement of my aunts home - collections of Superman, Action, Detective, Batman and World's Finest - almost all are in very good to near mint condition. My cousin collected them when he was a child and they've been sitting there ever since I first discovered them back in 1978. My cousin died several years ago and I've never been able to convince my aunt to let me have them. Someday.

Chris said...

I can't recall many bargains but I am glad that I managed to collect a long run of Amazing Spidey before the prices got too high. I've a VFN copy of issue 15 bought for £15 and a couple of years later it was £150. Also got NM/VFN copies of #s 39 and 42 which would cost me an arm and a leg to get these days.

But I'm really posting to mention a recent "bargain" I've acquired from ebay. I bought a VFN copy of Iron Man 55 for £20 late last year.

Have you seen the price of it now following the Thanos appearance in Avengers movie? Crazy.

I think I've got a bargain althought it was the going rate at the time.

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