There are certain events in life you remember where you were and what you were doing. They are distinct memories that you have and that you will never forget in your lifetime. January 14, 2021, was one of those days. Ironically, I was in a comic book shop digging through the back-issue bins and I get an alert. Then I get a text. Then another alert, another alert, and another. I said to myself what is going on? The thing is, when you are active on social media and a member of various comic book groups, your phone will blow up on certain news. Add to it close friends that love the hobby as yourself then your phone will blow up even more. That is what happened here. The news, Batman #1 (1940) just sold for $2.22 million at Heritage Auctions. Wow!
With every comic book, there is always a story behind it. Especially for a comic book that is nearly 80 years old; if comics could only talk! The story behind how it was acquired by a collector from a renowned comic book shop in Houston is amazing to read and you can find it here. After reading it I think everybody wants to know more about the seller. Who is this collector? I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to speak to the seller.
His name is William Giles and we had an amazing conversation. From the start, I immediately could tell William’s passion for the hobby and his enthusiasm for comic books. We could have talked for hours. Here is our conversation about the finest known copy of 1940’s Batman No. 1 starring Bruce Wayne that recently sold on Heritage Auctions’ four-day Comics and Comic Art event for $2.22 million. Please enjoy:
What made you want to sell your copy of Batman #1? Graded CGC 9.4, it stands alone as the highest-graded copy in the CGC Census.
There are a couple of things that came to mind that helped me make my decision to sell. One, I am reaching the age of retirement and I have no children. I’m approaching my 11th wedding anniversary and it’s all about enjoying life. I thought it’s been in the family long enough and it was time for someone else to enjoy the book. When I did a quick internet search and discovered Heritage Auctions as their website seemed most interesting to me. I have a 40k comic book collection and Heritage is going to help me with that problem. Heritage Auctions has helped me every step of the way and I am truly thankful. It was Heritage’s idea to get my father’s books CGC graded to include Batman #1 and I fully obliged.
How long have you been a comic book collector?
I’v have been collecting comic books for over 55 years. I like to collect Batman, Spiderman, and Daredevil modern titles if they interest me but for the most part, it’s Golden and Silver Age comic books. I’ve a Spiderman 1-200 collection that I cherish. I used to have two copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 but gave one to my father years ago to help him with his business. My father was more into the business. A couple more memorable sales that come to mind from my father’s collection was Avengers #57 CGC 9.8 (1st Appearance of Silver Age Vision) sold for $26,400, Captain America Comics #1 CGC 7.0 (1st Appearance of Captain America and Bucky) sold for $186k and Superman #1 (Premiere issue of solo Superman title) sold for $144k. I can’t read all the books I got!
You mentioned how your father’s passion had turned professional and what he did to get that book and how he took care of it would have made him proud for others to know. Please explain.
Funny story, for the first 10 years owning Batman #1 it was in my room on top of one of my shelves. Then when we moved from Shreveport, La., to Texas, my father and I decided to put a few comic books in lock deposit boxes at a local bank. I picked a few from my collection and my father picked a few from his collection. Needless to say, he had more valuable books than me and used 10 lock deposit boxes. And that is where it has been for all these years, just in a mylar comic book bags, no backboard, no backing. Just sandwiched between two other sturdy comic books.
The last question, there are many new collectors joining this hobby every day. Young kids, teenagers, and even young adults, they are coming into the hobby with vigor and passion for certain characters and specific writers and artists. As a collector in this hobby for over 50+ years, what advice would you give them as they embark on this journey of collectibles?
That’s easy, BUY what YOU like and READ IT. Don’t buy for investment. That’s easy for me to say but really, buy for yourself. Take care of your comic books AND enjoy them. The trick is to like the comic book. If you like the comic book you can’t go wrong. I must admit, I didn’t read Batman #1, but I did flip through the pages to make sure it was all there. I thought it was too nice to read. For what it’s worth, I did read Millennium Edition Batman #1. It was the same exact interior art and story from the original.
Thank you, William, for your time and candor in doing this interview. It was great to hear the story behind the Batman #1 comic book and your sound advice for new collectors joining the hobby. Good to know for everybody in the hobby let alone the newbies. Wait, did you just say no backing board, no fullback, nothing for the Batman #1 for 20+ years? Wow! Thank you for sharing and I (we) look forward to hearing more about your amazing sales in future Heritage auctions!
Please share your thoughts and comments about the recent record-breaking sale of Batman #1 CGC 9.4. Did you place a bid in the auction? Do you have a copy of Batman #1 in your collection? Do you read your comic books? I would love to hear from you. Until next time you comic book junkies…
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