Are Golden Age Comic Books within Reach For New Collectors?

by Jestin Davis


052821B-300x157 Are Golden Age Comic Books within Reach For New Collectors?Comic Book collecting can be daunting when you first enter into the marketplace and one of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself before spending money on books is; what era am I going to focus on? Can a new investor afford to buy Golden Age?

Many collectors that have been in the comic book collecting space for years have a pretty good handle on what age is best for them. Or they have preconceived notions about certain eras that limit them from branching out any further than what they are comfortable with. I want to help new collectors broaden their horizons and at least consider whether golden age comics could be a fit for them. 

For sake of this article, we are going to focus on collecting books from the Golden era, which spans from 1938 to 1956, but if you want to dive further into the specific comic book ages check out this recent goCollect post on that very topic. 

250px-Action_Comics_1-205x300 Are Golden Age Comic Books within Reach For New Collectors?The Golden Age

Back to the beginning, where it all began. Action Comics #1 kicks off the superhero genre that we all know and love today and has also become the most valuable comic book in the world. Obviously, most new collectors will not be going after an Action Comics #1, but I would not rule out golden age books entirely. 

Sure, most people know the aforementioned Action Comics #1 (first appearance of Superman) and Detective Comics #27 (first appearance of Batman) are key books that are very valuable, but why are they so valuable? I would argue that there are multiple reasons. 

Scarcity

Most Golden Age comic books were read once or twice. Then, they were thrown out due to them being considered just another pulp or newspaper strip variation. You also had paper drives in the 1950s to raise money. Those coupled with the comic book scare started by “Seduction of the Innocent”. We saw churches, towns, and other institutions gathering to burn comic books due to their bad publicity during that time. 

clean-9-198x300 Are Golden Age Comic Books within Reach For New Collectors?Iconic Poses

If you look at many of the comic books from the golden age era, you will notice that the covers feature heroes in iconic poses. Even the title headers are iconic in their own right. Titles like Action Comics, Detective Comics, Adventure Comics, and others had iconic names and iconic covers which makes them sought-after collector’s items. 

Historic Value

Many of these books have historic value as well as collectible value. Take Captain America Comics #1 as an example. The cover of this comic shows Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in the face (talk about American Pride). This appeals to collectors of World War 2 memorabilia and historic collectors in general, not just comic book collectors. 

Collecting Golden Age Comics

Back to the original question, are these books within reach for new collectors? The short answer is yes, there is always a book for every budget. You may find yourself collecting books in lower grade/quality compared to newer age books. However, you should also consider the scarcity as well as what constitutes investment grade for the golden age. 

Batman #1 (1940, first appearance of Joker & Catwoman) for example lists 278 copies graded by CGC on their census, which makes any book in a 6.5 grade or higher considered investment grade! In comparison, in order to obtain an investment-grade Incredible Hulk #181 (first full appearance of Wolverine), you would need a 9.2 grade or better. When dealing with this era you need to look at the data and do your homework. Still, there is definitely an opportunity for new investors to get into golden age books!

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6 comments

Nick Begin May 30, 2021 - 11:36 am

It used to be that budget collectors could buy in age if they we were willing to compromise on the grade. Now, a lot of low grade sales are hitting 4 digits for graded books. The low hanging fruit have dried up for the most part.

Reply
Jestin Davis June 5, 2021 - 7:17 am

Agree, it’s tough right now!

Reply
Adam T Huffman May 30, 2021 - 4:23 pm

How does one determine investment grades vs copies graded by CGC? And which ones are considered those? Like Thrilling Comics 68 has only 34 copies in various grades, are all considered investment grade because of rarity? Same as Tally Ho Comics (1st Frazetta comic art) as there are only 27 copies does that mean all are investment? If you could explain and enlighten that would be awesome. Thank you for the article and your time.

Reply
Jestin Davis June 5, 2021 - 7:20 am

Investment grade is top 15% of a given book/collectible, but there needs to be a fair amount graded to know what that number is. If too few are graded, it’s hard to say what investment grade is for that book. Also, just because something is considered investment grade, doesn’t mean it will increase in value. For example, an obscure book with an unknown character may never appreciate much in value because there is no future demand. You have to consider both investment grade AND collectibility. Hope this helps!

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Steven Chaifetz June 4, 2021 - 8:55 pm

Just a quick Note. Inc Hulk 181 is an Investment Grade comic in most any Grade.It’s not just 9.2 specific.
These are some of the CGC facts to support my thesis.

2019 Avg Price. 2021 Recent sales.March to May)

2.0 = $1050.00 2.0 = $3000.00
4.0 = $1700.00 4.0 + $3700.00
5.0 = $2000.00 5.0 = $5200.00
6.0 = $2400.00 6.0 = $6200.00
7.0 = $2900.00 7.0 + $7400.00

9.2 = $6900.00 9.2 = $14500.00

In any Grade that you can afford, this book, it is a worthy investment due to its incredible popularity.
As well as it’s Importance.

Not to take away from the chance of owning Golden Age books any Grade Batman #1 is worth owning.

I did enjoy reading your article

Reply
Jestin Davis June 5, 2021 - 7:16 am

Thanks Steven!

Reply

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