Looking into Pedigree Books

by Ariel Lazo

aa16_book_lg-191x300 Looking into Pedigree BooksWhile checking to see what are the highest valued comics, I came across the term Pedigree. Pedigree Books are from exceptional collections that consist of vintage, high-grade comics that have been acquired by one single owner. These classic Golden and Silver age books usually bring in extremely high bids at auction whenever you can actually find them. Many of these books hold their value due to being some of the highest graded books in their field. Even though they are in amazing shape are they worth the prices?

 

What makes a collection a Pedigree?

pedigree-label Looking into Pedigree Books

For a collection to be deemed as a pedigree it must meet certain criteria. The four criteria according to CGC are:

  1. Must be High Grade – For the few silver age collections allowed in, they must be about 9.2-9.4 and above. Golden Age comics should be the highest grades in existence.
  2. The collection is from Original Owner – In other words, they were bought off the newsstand from a single owner. As CGC states: “a collector cannot buy a high-grade run of 1940s comics from various sources and expect it to be considered a pedigree.” However, the original owner does not need to own the comics for it to still be considered a pedigree.
  3. A considerable number of comics – For the collection to be considered you must own at least 1,000 books or if less they must be older and higher graded books.
  4. Must be Vintage – Prior to the White Mountain auction by Sotheby’s, only books considered were Golden Age books. Now some, and I mean some, very high-grade Silver age books are being allowed.

Here are two of the most prominent and notable Pedigree Collections:

Church/ Mile High Collection

edgar-church-6-300x173 Looking into Pedigree Books

Edgar Church was an artist and avid collector. He amassed a huge collection of Golden Age comics that he kept in amazing shape. Church started collecting in his basement from 1937 till 1957 and kept his collection till his death in 1977. In his collection, he had almost every run imaginable from the Golden Age. After his death, his collection was sold to Mile High Comics who sold off pieces little by little. Today this collection is known as the biggest and first collection to be named a Pedigree. The highest graded Action Comics #1 resides within this collection with only a handful of people seeing it face to face. Steve Borock from CBCS has had this pleasure and rates it about a 9.4. You will find a premium with these books due to them not changing hands as often as other collections.

White Mountain Collection

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This collection is known as the first Silver Age collection to be named a Pedigree. It was collected by Kennett Neily between 1948 and 1964. This collection was well maintained with beautifully white pages. Although many copies of these books existed, none really compared to the quality found here. It received notoriety during an auction run by Sotheby’s where it saw sales of unprecedented amounts making comic history. This collection is also known for its collection of video games and video game memorabilia.

Other Pedigree Book Collections

CGC currently recognizes 59 collections as Pedigrees and has even created a special label for them. If you click HERE, you will be directed to their list. If you plan on jumping into the world of Pedigree Collecting you will benefit from checking this page out. They even list some of the marks left behind on the books by the individual owners to better identify their collection. Unfortunately, I do not see many other collections being added to this list. At this point, many collections have been lost or split into many pieces that it would prove to be difficult to find another.

Are Pedigree Books worth it?

Now, this is the magic question. Many of these pedigree books are selling for 2x-5x the price of their counterparts, leaving people wondering if they are worth the price. To be honest, this all depends on the collector. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to say about owning the most perfect copy of Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27, but the premium you pay is beyond astronomical. My thoughts on this are: If you can afford a Pedigree book in a grade not found anywhere else, then yes by all means go for it. However, I would not spend the extra money to buy a Fantastic Four #49 in a 5.0 just because it is part of a Pedigree collection. To me, a 5.0 is a 5.0 regardless if it is a Pedigree or not. That’s just me though.

I hope this helps you a little in your collecting journey. Have you ever bought a Pedigree book or maybe have a collection worth being a Pedigree? Drop me a line below and let’s get talking!

Till Next Time, Happy Hunting!

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11 comments

Jake Zawlacki June 16, 2020 - 5:09 pm

I had no idea about any of this, Ariel. Thanks for an informative write-up!

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Ariel Lazo June 18, 2020 - 2:49 pm

Thank you so much Jake! Means a lot to me!

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Brett The Comic Guy June 16, 2020 - 7:22 pm

I live in Australia, how do I register to be a pedigree collector?

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Ariel Lazo June 18, 2020 - 2:54 pm

Hi Brett!
If you want to just collect Pedigree books then you can just do a search for them. Most big Comic auction companies and Cons will have them. You may also have to look at big name auction houses like Sotheby’s and Heritage.

But if you have a collection and want it evaluated for Pedigree Status, you can reach out to Giovanna from CGC directly with your list, the condition of books, and highlight all the major keys for them. Afterwards the CGC team will contact you and speak to you directly about the next steps needed. Her email is: gperez@ngccoin.com

Hope this helps!

Reply
RJ Taylor June 17, 2020 - 6:43 am

Solid writ content, Ariel.. Loved every word in this article..

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Ariel Lazo June 18, 2020 - 2:48 pm

Truly appreciate it, means a lot! If you have any ideas on other posts you would love to see just let me know! 🙂

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David H June 17, 2020 - 1:10 pm

I own three Mile High comics from the 1940’s. They are beautiful and pristine – great page quality and color. It would be very tough to find any golden age comics of this quality and they are all almost certainly the best copies that can be found. Not only did Edgar Church store them carefully after buying them, he also had the advantage of living in Denver, the mile high city. Apparently the air quality of that city is conducive to paper preservation. They were sent to CGC and two came back 9.2 and one is 9.6 (with an L.B. Cole cover, no less). Well worth the pedigree price, I say.

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Ariel Lazo June 18, 2020 - 2:47 pm

Hi David! Wow that is awesome! Don’t get me wrong, a high grade, vintage, pedigree is absolutely worth every penny. The only time I don’t think the price is worth the status, is when I can find the same book, in the same grade for less. For example, the White Mountain Collection has some silver age books but not the highest graded, silver age books. In that case, why spend the extra money. Now Mile High has some of the most AMAZING Golden Age books ever! I would buy a Mile High pedigree anytime! Those are known for being the highest graded books to exist. That alone makes it worth every cent. Congrats on the 3 you own! Hope you get many more! Thanks for reading and responding!

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David H June 18, 2020 - 6:18 pm

Thanks, Ariel. And I agree with what you say about the silver age White Mountain collection

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Billyjockey June 17, 2020 - 9:35 pm

I’d like to see more about Golden Age and investing.

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Ariel Lazo June 18, 2020 - 2:43 pm

Absolutely not a problem. There are some beautiful Golden Age comics that I would love to talk about. Is there anything in particular that you would like for me to cover? As in which top 10 Golden Age Comics are great investments? Or are they two separate topics like you want more Golden Age and more on investing? I can even do both actually. Let me know Billyjockey and I got you! Thank you for reading as well!

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