The Silver Age is not cheap to own. Take an early appearance of Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #42. The last recorded grade (9.6) sold for $10,755. Even the mid-grade 6.5 will cost you $300 dollars to buy-in. Can low-grade keys be the ticket to the high price entry fee for most Silver Age keys? Are low-grades cheap enough when compared to their long-term value? Let’s do some dumpster diving for Silver Age damaged keys and see if the numbers add up. I recently purchased Tales of Suspense #42 in a very beat up condition. Was this a bad speculation purchase or a really great long-term investment? Let us see if we can determine the efficacy of buying and investing with damaged keys, the low-grade stuff. You know the junk your pressing company won’t do because the book nearly has a detached staple or some such.
This is the fourth appearance of Iron Man in Tales of Suspense. It was created by a massive team of artists and writers, namely Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber, and Joe Maneely (pencils). The script was all Stan Lee back in 1963. In my example, the book condition I purchased was below average either 0.5 or 2.0 at best. It had the greatest hints of damage: color fade, spine damage, abrasions, corner damage, ripples, dirt, the paper was only off white to cream. The cover depicts Iron Man bashing through a wall; if I didn’t know better it looks like he is trying to escape the comic book’s condition. Still, it is a gold suit Iron Man not exactly growing on trees nowadays.
- Grade 9.6 $12,000 FMV returns positive +40%
- Grade 9.2 $2,500 FMV returns negative -31.4%
- Grade 8.5 $900 FMV returns positive +29.9%
- Grade 6.5 $260 FMV returns positive +21.6%
- Grade 2.0 $100 FMV returns positive +28.3%
- Grade 1.8 $95 FMV returns positive +57.1%
- Grade 0.5 $80 FMV returns positive +11.2%
I paid $34 for Tales of Suspense #42 at my local retailer, more than likely too much. I got a ten percent discount and also paid tax. So now I am sitting there with a book that looks like crud and is making me no money. I send it in to CGC with several other books at a cost of $37 (Value $27 + Fast Track $10). This does not include shipping (but I am sending it as one of many books) and of course the dreaded tax.
CGC grades it a 1.8; slabs it, and sends it back to me. After several months I now own a beat-up copy of an early Iron Man, a story that people want, and a key that has value on the high end at $12,000 FMV for grade 9.6. But my key is only a puny grade 1.8 worth only a mere $100 have I made a good deal? Let’s take a closer look at the expected return on this dumpster dive.
Dumpster Dive Return
Cost = $32 price tag +37 CGC = $69
Value =The book returns a grade of 1.8 and has a current value of $100.
Not a bad deal in my book. After all, that is a $31 profit. It works out to about 20% after taxes give or take. But the current value is not what matters. The real value is its future value. That is what the dumpster divers are counting on. Grade 1.8 has a $100 FMV and returns net positive gains. Don’t worry about how little that gain is, any gain works. That is a 20% short-term return with very little risk after taxes and fees.
The future value we can expect for grade 1.8 is 57.1% not too shabby for such low risk. Now let’s say I overestimated the value of my book, and instead of grade 1.8, it returns grade 0.5 at $41. I cover the initial cost of my investment but not much of the grading and slabbing cost. However, I do retain the nice +11.2% return. The inevitable profit is only a couple of years away. Meanwhile, any Marvel movie or news is a potential selling event. Even Iron Man couldn’t rig a better system, right? Now, err, wait a minute; that is going too far. Tony Stark probably could build a better profit source. However, the efficacy of low-grades is gaining credibility, right?
Dumpster diving has its moments.
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