The topic of this blog post is Golden Records reprint editions of key Marvel Silver Age books. A reader recently wrote asking my opinion on these books (shout out to Mike for the email). In this post, after going over the data, I’ll try to assess in detail whether or not these reprints are worth owning.
First things first, since the world of American Comic books is large, and new people enter the hobby all the time, I’ll start by giving a summary of what the Golden Records reprints were and why they were published.
Founded in 1948 by Arthur Shimkin, the Golden Records label was a subsidiary of book publisher Simon & Shuster. It was established to distribute books (Little Golden Books) with accompanying records; all aimed at children.
Later on, in the 1950s education records and books (including novels and poetry readings) were released. In the 1960s a deal was struck with Marvel and other comic publishers. In the case of Marvel, Four Silver Age comics were published with records: Amazing Spider-Man #1, Journey into Mystery #83, Avengers #4 and Fantastic Four #1.
These record/comic reprint combos originally sold for $2.49 (for both record and comic). Today, in good condition, they are worth many thousands of dollars, especially if found complete. In what follows I’m looking at the value of the comics alone.
The first objection to buying a GRR is that, as reprints, there are more affordable and newer editions out there. While this is true, and some of the later reprints of big Marvel books have also attained high price points, the GRR are nonetheless more collectible.
Largely this is due to their historical distinction of being the very first reprints of so many Marvel keys. In many cases, also, these comics were reprinted just a few years after the originals. Like the originals they have become hard to find, and so are more rare than later reprints.
The GRR can be really hard to distinguish from the original comics. There are, however, certain tell-tale signs that give them away. First, there is no cover price on the GRR. Also, in general the back cover, as well as the inside covers, promoted the Golden Record LP series instead of BB Guns or Atlas body building ads. Although I’ve never heard the original Avengers record, the voice-acting on other records ranges from good to quite campy. The narrator who reads the story also announces the page number to help the reader follow along (you can listen to an original recording of the Thor comic, here).
Comparing the Avengers #4 GRR with the original, we can note that the total number of GRR copies on the census is 317. Avengers #4, published just a year earlier, has 3, 634 total census copies. One possible reason is that less copies of GRR comics were printed. Another is that less survived, since these were for marketed for children. With a FMV of $3, 600.00 Avengers #4 GRR is the most valuable of the GRR. Returns over the long term have been very strong, except in 6.0 grade (but only 3 sales recorded for that grade). Short term: six month returns show mixed returns since February: best roi has been on 8.5 grade, positive +104% after three sales (last sale: eBay, 08/06/2019 = $520.00). Worst returns: 8.0 -38.3%, after 2 sales (last sale: eBay, 04/07/2019; $216.00).
Total number of census copies = 529, around 200 more copies than Avengers #4, (however, the original edition of FF #1 has 2,284 total). Current FMV for FF #1 GRR in 9.8 grade is around $1, 570.00. The last 9.8, however, sold on eBay for $2, 750.00 on 04/05/2018, so it’s trending up. That should continue since the FF are due to enter the MCU. Long term returns (over the last 15 years) echo Avengers #4, strong in all grades, except 6.5. Short term returns, again, mixed. Best returns have been on 7.0 grades with a positive +34.3% return over 2 sales the past 6 months (last sale: eBay, 07/18/2019= $470.00). Worst return: 9.4 negative -27.3% after 7 sales (last sale: eBay 07/26/2019, = $610.00).
Total CGC census copies of the first reprint of JIM #83 = 528. The original comic = 1,842. Current FMV for JIM #83 GRR in 9.8 grade is $2,050.00. Long term (15 year returns) are again strong but with negative returns on both 4.5 and 8.5 in the case of this comic. Short terms returns, over the last 6 months, show far more negative numbers than the above books. Worst return has been on 9.4 with negative -25.6% after 3 sales. Last eBay tale: 08/06/2019 sold for $499.99. The only positive return has been on 9.0 but it is up by a mere +0.7%, last eBay sale, 05/15/2019, $290.00.
Total census numbers for the reprint of the first Spidey = 588. Long term returns on this comic are very strong, with only 4.0 grades showing any negative returns. The current FMV is $2, 900.00. A 9.8 broke the $3, 000.00 mark in January of 2015, so it’s currently down from its high. Long term returns are all positive except on 4.0 grades. Short term (6 months) returns are mixed but best positive numbers have been on 8.5 grades (up + 16.4%). Last sale of an 8.5 sold on eBay on 07/17/2019 for $698.55. Worst return: 9.2 down -38.7%. Last eBay sale: 07/01/2019 for $827.90. Not bad for a book trending down.