Published: March 16, 2004
“The beginning of a new year is always exciting,” said Heritage Comics (HCA) director of auctions John Petty, “but this year in particular is starting with a bang.”
The February 6-7 Signature Sale, the gallery’s first of 2004, attracted more than 2,400 bidders, 552 of whom actually won lots. The auction grossed $2,342,248 from 1,736 lots sold out of 2,167 offered, with additional after-auction sales still coming in.
“We decided to experiment with smaller, more frequent Signature Sales this year, and based on the results we saw this weekend, the experiment seems to be working out well,” said Ed Jaster, Heritage’s director of acquisitions. “The comics market appears to be quite healthy indeed. This was also the first sale held in our new office space.”
The gallery plans a total of six comics and comic art Signature auctions this year, plus separate sales for other popular culture rdf_Descriptions as well as sports collectibles.
Highlights included Captain America Comics #1 Mile High pedigree (Timely, 1941), which sold for $64,400. This comic features the origin and first appearance of Captain America and Bucky by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Perennial nemesis the Red Skull also makes his first appearance. Undeniably one of the most important comic books of all time, this issue is currently ranked at number six in Overstreet’s list of the Top 100 Golden Age Books.
Action Comics #1 (DC, 1938), featuring the introduction of Superman, single-handedly raised the comic industry from a second-rate medium of strip reprints to a legitimate business whose sales would eventually surpass even the best selling magazines. Action #1 is the holy grail of comic books, lusted after by virtually anyone who considers him- or herself a collector. The comic sold for $57,500.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel, 1963), which brought $52,900, was a stunning copy with razor-sharp corners, a beautiful spine and deep colors. Next to Amazing Fantasy #15, this is the second-most-demanded Silver Age comic. This is the first Fantastic Four crossover into another title, as Spider-Man tries to join their group. The cover is by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, but interior art is all by Spider-Man’s co-creator, Steve Ditko. To date, only three copies of this issue have been graded higher by CGC.
Finishing at $47,150 was Superman #1 (DC, 1939). The origin of the Man of Steel is retold here by creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, and Shuster provides a pinup for the back cover. Ranked by Overstreet as the fourth most valuable Golden Age comic book, it features one of those covers that quickens the heartbeat of any serious comic book collector.
Marvel Mystery Comics #9 (Timely, 1940) sold for $42,550, while Wally Wood’s original cover art for Weird Science #9 (EC, 1951) brought $39,100.
Other notable lots were: Marvel Comics #1 (Timely, 1939), $37,950; Wonder Woman #1 (DC, 1942), $32,200; The Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel, 1962), $29,038; National Comics #7 Mile High pedigree (Quality, 1941), $20,700; and Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, original cover art for Star-Spangled Comics #8 (DC, 1942), $19,550.
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