Comics are printed in mass and over time there is a long and arduous process that takes a comic from on the shelf, to in a collection, to graded and finally for sale. With a dizzying amount of variants, limited editions, signature series, blank covers, and the like, how does a collector make sure that they are getting something truly rare and collectible? We all check the census and review sales trends, but every once in a while something comes to our attention that makes us use some consideration and do some research. At the end of the day, it is all about the end sale and how you get the most out of your collection.
I had provided some insights into the Mark Jewelers Inserts in a previous blog and have recently seen a steady flow of Mark Jewelers Insert (MJI) and other insert books hitting the market. I will take this time to blatantly spell it out. Mark Jewelers Insert books are extremely rare on the market, as a whole, but if they are at the high grades they are even more desirable and rare. This fact should be well known to any collector, but I feel like the broader market is just getting the word.
Books with inserts were primarily sold on military bases, both domestic and overseas. The books are all newsstand by classification. We should all be in agreement on the rarity of newsstand vs. direct books. If insert books are a sub-set of the newsstand books, and newsstand books are super rare…you can do the math. Much like trying to convince people of the rarity in Canadian Price Variants (CPV), there is going to be some resistance but the market will ultimately decide. What this all comes down to is trying to distinguish your book against others.
Quick note. Not every CPV or insert book is worth more just because of the designation. However, if you have a key that is classified as special, you should see a premium on that price. Thor #337 should be a shining example of this escalation. A direct copy goes for around $500. Newsstand copy goes for $600. CPV goes for $1,000. Mark Jewelers should see a premium above a newsstand copy, similar to CPV. A currently listed X-Men #266 MJI is listed for over $1,500, or 3-4 times the direct copy. I believe it is worth close to, but a little less than that. The question becomes is there value to gain from that point?
Recently, copies of Marvel Team-Up #65, which features the first US appearance of Captain Britain, had been steadily increasing up to the $600 price point for a 9.8 graded copy. A few months ago a copy was posted on eBay that was both a 9.8 grade and contained a Pizzazz insert. I for one have seen various inserts, but this was a new one for me. At auction, the book sold for just over $1,000. Quite the premium for a book that is not very rare at the top grade, with more than 30 in existence. That sale may have also been a flash in the pan because a second copy, by the same seller, failed to achieve a sale despite the price sitting below $1,000. Although I have been big on this book, I do not consider the market value to be the $1,000 price that the insert book received. I do consider the Fair Market Value still around the $600 range and a fair value for an insert book to be near $800, as the market sits currently. We will have to wait and see if that tends to shift over time.
What is the coolest insert book that you own? Do you feel that these variants will make a further market charge as people become accustomed to their presence on the market? Drop your comments and join the speculation!