I haven’t hit a home-run recently on the circuit, but I’m always amazed at what I see.There have been several times the past month where I wished that I had my comics up for sale at an auction, as the crowd was paying more than enough to keep me happy. Looks like there is a market for back issues still!
A few weeks ago, at one of my regular haunts, they had 8 lots of approximately 5 – 9 comics per group – all 10 centers! Arriving early, I carefully examined all of the lots, made notes, went out to the car, pulled out Mr. Overstreet and came up with my maximum bid for each lot. Of the 8, 4 were of particular interest to me – superheroes and horror related. The first group went for $10 more than my “magic number” and since it wasn’t one of the big 4, I let it go. Next came one of the ones that I had my eye on. I won the bidding for $10 LESS than I had budgeted, a mere $110. The third lot had early Action and Detective comics as well as Marvel Mystery Comics #86 and a couple more. I was willing to go 300 bucks, but got it for $180. Sweet! (I sold the MMC 86 for $300 alone on eBay within one week!). That left 5 more lots to go, but evidently, my going $180 woke up the crowd, for the remaining ones went for WAY more than I figured their worth. I was happy, though.
The following week, the same auction house had a shot on their website of a short box of comics, with a few from the ’80s showing. After registering, I started my search for the comics. Checking both large rooms, they were no where to be found. Reason being: they were right next to the auctioneer and ready to up for bids. Having not had a chance to see what was in there, but feeling a little froggy, I did go to $60 for the box. It sold for $160! Like many auctions, they deliver the items to the winning bidder immediately, so I stood slightly over the shoulders of the two guys who bought them. Obviously, they were new to the game because they seemed excited by what they saw – a number of # 1′s (all really insignificant, except for a Defenders #1). When they saw two comics with $60 price tags on the covers, you could tell that they really thought they hit the mother load. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Fantastic Fours in the high 300′s were not worth anywhere near that. It was a younger guy and perhaps his grandfather, who probably were enjoying their last foray into investing in comics.
Although they do not have a weekly auction, Sellersville Auction company seems to specialize in fun collectibles – toys, comics, games, dolls, etc. A recent one showed many flats of some Silver/Bronze Age comics, as well as many undergrounds from the late ’60s to early ’70s, including many Robert Crumb issues. Again, I had the wish that I had some of my comics at that sale, for all of the lots of “regular” comics went for more than l could go as a reseller. The undergrounds – that was a different story. I was the ONLY person in the room who had any interest in them. Sounds good, eh? But, someone left absentee bids on all of the lots, each containing 17 issues with the last one having 26 comix. Note: Spellcheck underlined “comix”. Bidding on behalf of the absentee, each lot started at only $25. 17 undergrounds for only 25 bucks? As Frank, from American Pickers, would say, “I’d do that all day long!” Evidently, that bidder had a max of $75 on all of the 17 copy lots and a little higher on the 26 issue group. No one in the room, besides me, raised their hand, but I pushed him on all of the lots. The group with nothing but Robert Crumb issues, the group with nothing but number 1 issues, and the last lot with 26 went home with me. These will make their appearance in the shop shortly. Ya gotta be 18 to view!
At this particular auction, I saw two people whose actions disturbed me. An older guy was checking out the comics and would practically throw them down into the flats. Not only that, but he held the group by the thumb and forefinger at a corner and flipped them down. None of the comics were bagged and boarded. Worst was a rather VERY large gentleman who talked throughout the auction. When I say that he talked throughout, he was holding all of the conversation. His companion basically just listened. I was in the second row up front and he was in the last row, about 10 rows back. This is particularly annoying to people like me who can’t filter out background noise. It seemed to be a matter of everyone one being too “PC” to say anything, so we all put up with his rudeness. He had a walker due to his incredible girth and they found an over-sized stuffed chair for him. He did not seem to notice people turning around nor the workers staring and glaring. It spoiled the experience.
Last Tuesday, I hit two auctions, but only one in person. There is an auction in Denver, PA that is very upscale, where every lot starts at $25 or more, with bidding increments starting at $25. They have an extremely nice set-up, as described in an earlier blog, and help pay for that by requiring a 20% Buyers’ premium! Tuesday’s auction had one lot that caught my interest – a group of Superman-Tim redback dollars from 1945. I’ve owned some of the comics produced for the Tim stores, but had never seen these redeemable “dollars” before. Here was a group of them, but this was not a comic book related auction and its a long trip for one lot. So…for the first time ever, I placed an online absentee bid. That freed me up to attend one of my local auctions – Bunch Auction on Rt. 202. For those not familiar with them, they have a “showroom” section where they display the hoity-toity stuff and a warehouse section where anything might be found. Typically, they sell books in the later part of the afternoon in the warehouse. As mentioned before, it is encouraging that so many book dealers attend each week and are willing to pay some big bucks for individual volumes. Occasionally, they have comics to offer and these are found along with the books. This past week, they noted in their description and posted pictures of 1,000′s of postcards and were also going to have 3 binders of baseball cards from the 30′s to 50′s, offered as a lot. Now even commons from this era are a pretty easy sell, so if they went relatively cheap (I haven’t seen cards there very often), I was going to go for them. Knowing exactly where to find the binders from the shot they used on the website, I signed in to register and headed back to thew warehouse. The auctioneer in the back was working in the normal order and i figured on having at least an hour to check out the cards before they came up. They weren’t there! I looked all around, went to the other room, and still couldn’t find them. Finally, I saw a sign saying that the cards had been moved to the showroom and would be sold at 3:00 PM. Sure enough, hidden behind glass, almost behind the auctioneers stage, were the cards – now separated into about ten or twelve groups of sheets of cards. Without actually getting to view them, from what I saw, I knew I was going to be a spectator only. They were nice and had some major stars included. As promised, the cards were brought up at 3 PM. They started out with a group of newer cards that brought relatively little. Then came the Big Boys. A lot of 1950s Bowmans brought several hundred. One bidder thrust his hand and card up and kept it there to let everyone know he was in it for the long haul. I like that! Some groups of Goudeys and Playballs from the late to early ’40s brought spirited bidding and our demonstrative bidder won a few of them – several lots bringing upwards of $800 (NOT counting the 13% Buyers Premium). The final lot was a group of 1940 Playballs which had not one, not two, but FIVE nice Joe DiMaggios, A Ted Williams, and other HOFers. The auctioneer started the bidding with an absentee bid of two thousand samolians. Immediately, the card thruster shot his hand up and kept it there again as the bids increased by 50 dollars per bid. I guess exasperated by the time it was taking, when it was around $2800, he yelled out, “$4,500!”. Undaunted, a bidder across then room stayed with him as the bids were now jumping by 100 dollars and shortly yelled out, “$7,000!. The auctioneer quickly changed the bid increments to $500 and it wasn’t until it reached $14,000 that the card thruster dropped his hand…but only for a brief moment, as he shot his hand back up and agreed to $14,500. The other gentleman immediately went to $15,000 and it was over, but not until the room gave a big round of applause. Yeah, I was definitely a spectator.
Returning to the warehouse, I won a binder full of cigarette cards depicting military uniforms from all over the world for $25 and an entire shelf for $2.50, which included 14 big little books from the early 70′s, 9 Philly sports team photos issued by the Bulletin in the 70′s, 4 Bulletin issued photos of Pope John Paul I & II, a nice booklet with parchment reproductions of the famous historical documents of our country ( you know – Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, Gettysburg Address, etc.), and two nice 48 page booklets about Mount Rushmore. Yes that was two dollars – fifty cents.
Oh, that online bid that I made – I won it! You should see them in the store sometime soon. They’re being sent to me.
If you’re looking for back issues, be sure to mark these dates on your calendar – Memorial Day and the 4th of July, CBH Comics will again hold what has become our annual Flea Markets. We are currently accepting rentals for the Memorial Day event. Sign up NOW if you want a table, as we have sold out every time! Just $15 per spot. Also, Sunday, June 30th, there will be a comic book convention, First State Comic Con, at the Embassy Suites (across from the U of D stadium on 896). Tables are still available. Contact Rick Comer at 410 – 287 – 6695 for more info.
Finally, for those of you who wanted confirmation and one of those “I KNEW it!” moments, I just returned from a doctor’s appointment and happened to look down at the print-out I was given as I left. This wasn’t mentioned to me during the exam, but there it was under the diagnosis -”SENILE NUCLEAR SCLEROSIS”!