Published: August 8, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers; Photos Courtesy Hake’s Auction
YORK, PENN. — There was a lot of red meat for comics collectors at Hake’s July 25-26 auction, which totaled $3.5 million and was led by Amazing Spider-Man #1, March 1963, one of the foremost copies in the world. For one thing, the comic had the first appearances of J. Jonah Jameson and The Chameleon. Second, it was the first Fantastic Four crossover. And the origin of Spider-Man was retold by the Silver Age super team of Stan Lee (story) and Steve Ditko (cover and art). The CGC 9.6 NM+ copy, a fresh-to-the-market offering from a privately held collection where it had resided for 25 years sold for a record $520,380, leading the overall two-day sale and cementing its stature as the breakout success that led to the creation of the Amazing Spider-Man title, which continues in various forms to this day. “It was a great auction!” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Auctions. “It was a near record turnout. We had a 94 percent sell-through rate. It was the second best auction in Hake’s 56-year history. The final price for ASM #1 was far and away a record. The last 9.6 to sell was November 2022 at Heritage for $336,000. All I can say is the bidding was hot and heavy and among several serious bidders, all wanting to obtain this ‘Amazing’ copy.” Winter added that he was not surprised by ASM #1 result. “You are talking about one of the key issues in all of comics, regardless of era. Add to it all, nearly impossible to get grade of 9.6 and that is what spurred the aggressive bidding.
“Collectors knew what made the book special. It came from the John B Goodrich collection, had desirable white pages and was one of only three at that grade level to reach the auction marketplace in more than a decade,” said Winter. “Everyone in the comic book world was aware that our July auction was a buying opportunity not to be missed, so the result did not surprise us. Now the winning bidder owns one of the world’s top copies of one of the most important books in the Marvel universe.”
It was a trifecta of sorts for consignments from the John B. Goodrich collection. In addition to Amazing Spider-Man #1, there was Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15, August 1962, which introduced the Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker) to comic audiences as well as featuring the first Spider-Man cover appearance. Fans were also introduced to Peter Parker’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben. With the Stan Lee story, Jack Kirby cover and Steve Ditko art, the CGC 7.5 comic sold for $170,844.
The first appearance of Spider-Man’s arch nemesis, the Green Goblin, and the first meeting of the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man were both documented in Amazing Spider-Man #14 July 1964. Also from the Goodrich collection, the comic featuring the story by Stan Lee, cover and art by Steve Ditko, was bid to $38,616, a new auction record for the title/grade.
There were two notable Star Wars results in the sale, one of which far exceeded the firm’s estimate and now an auction house record for any Kenner Star Wars sign. The first notable result was logged for an AFA graded and encapsulated 3¾-inch-tall unpainted prototype of the infamous rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from Kenner’s popular 1979 Star Wars toy line, which came up to $99,297. It was cased with an L-slot rocket-firing mechanism clearly visible from the back of case though the rocket was not included.
The second was a surprise when a large and impressive Star Wars (1979) toy center store display left its $5/10,000 valuation in the dust and commanded $42,690. Measuring 25 by 40 inches, the double-sided store display featured large “Star Wars Toy Center” text. It was designed as a hanging display or as bin header display and featured images of the Death Star looming in the background while Darth Vader leads a squad of TIE Fighters into battle against approaching X-Wing Fighters.
Original comic book art fared well as the category continues to attract collectors. Highlights included Neal Adams’ original pen-and-ink art for Page 19 of the DC comic book Green Lantern Vol. 2, #80 (October 1970). Inked by Dick Giordano and Mike Peppe, the page was an action-packed depiction from the “Even An Immortal Can Die!” storyline. Green Lantern’s power ring is in use in all four panels and is viewable in three of them, including a closeup view. The art board was a must-have for Neal Adams fans, the first time it has been offered at auction, and it finished at $25,057.
Fetching $19,210 were eight art boards containing 15 pages presenting the 1976 “Pull Of The Prodigy” storyline by Ann Robinson, a one-shot PSA jointly released by Marvel Comics and Planned Parenthood, with pencils by Ross Andru and inks by Mike Esposito. The story includes a plot to gain a large crop of new child laborers for the home planet, and the Prodigy, an alien in human disguise, attempts to convince teenagers to have unprotected sex by denying that there are risks and consequences of teen pregnancy and venereal disease. Spider-Man steps in before the Prodigy’s teenage victims can fall for his ploy.
Also a comic book art highlight, an illustration board with pen and ink original art for the cover to Super-Team Family #15, published by DC Comics in April 1978, realized $17,653. Art was by José Luis García-López, and the cover features The Flash as well as Orion, Lightray and Metron of the New Gods.
And outside the comic book realm, a Ken Kelly paperbook cover original art painting for Sword Woman (Dark Agnes) took $16,225.
Cartoon bad boy Bart Simpson was represented in this sale by an interactive 1993 Skybox Simpsons base set, which had 80 base cards with several different insert sets, including temporary tattoos, Wiggle lenticular cards, animation cel cards, glow-in-the-dark cards and, the crowning ingredient, limited Art DeBart cards featuring original artwork by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. In addition to an embossed gilt frame design on front of the card and the black felt tip pen original art portrait of Bart Simpson by Groening, each set had redemption cards randomly inserted that expired June 30, 1994. For those redeemed before that date, Groening would then draw on the gold-embossed cards, which would be mailed back to the consumers. A total of 14 bids brought this set to $13,769.
A store display featuring lively graphics of DC Comics’ superhero and villain characters left the gallery at $15,706, three times its high estimate. The 28-by-34½-inch die-cut, double-sided display for Kenner’s Super Powers Collection action figures and toys, circa 1984, showed Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Aquaman, The Flash, Batman and Robin, as well as Brainiac, Lex Luthor, The Penguin and The Joker.
Pop culture hits gave way to historical political fare as a Harrison And Reform 1840 presidential campaign silk flag, 22 by 28 inches, crossed the block at $21,845. Today, we say “Keep the Ball Rolling,” perhaps unaware that the phrase originated with the Victory Ball, a massive sphere of leather and tin covered in campaign slogans that was rolled from town to town to spread the word about the candidate, noted in the catalog as “a not so simple task given the terrain in the rustic countryside of 1840 America.”
A 7-by-7-inch display card with seven Hayes and Wheeler badges, produced by E.D. Smith & Bro. for the 1876 campaign found a buyer at $10,773. It was one of the most disputed and controversial presidential elections in American history, pitting Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden against Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, with wide allegations of electoral fraud, election violence and disfranchisement of predominantly Republican Black voters.
A notable baseball-related lot was an early Twentieth Century postcard from the 1910 PC796 series and depicting two future inaugural class of 1936 Hall of Famers, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, shaking hands during the 1909 World Series that had Cobb’s Detroit Tigers playing against Wagner’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Tough to find, the postcard went out at $12,591.
Honus Wagner again prevailed in a 1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel set consisting of 25 cards with a checklist printed on the reverse. Wagner was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. It reached $10,709.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, 866-404-9800 (toll-free), 717-434-1600 or www.hakes.com.
October 3, 2023
October 3, 2023
October 3, 2023
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