Making Sense of Pence: A Look at UK Pence Variants

by Luke Smith

090922B-12-1024x536 Making Sense of Pence: A Look at UK Pence VariantsHave you heard of UK pence variants? As a UK comic book collector, I find myself in a very unique position when it comes to comics of a certain age. Specifically when it comes to Silver and Bronze Age Books. You see, things were very different on this side of the pond back in the early years of Marvel and carried on that way for many more thereafter.

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The Long Journey Across the Sea

The majority of superhero comic books were being published in the U.S; many exports had a long journey ahead of them in order to make it across to European shores.

This meant that in order to ensure their safe arrival to UK stores on time, many of these books would have likely been the first off the printing press, being packaged and shipped out as quickly as possible.

The REAL First Prints

But how can we know this for sure? Well, the truth is, we don’t…

But over the years of collecting, I, along with many other collectors, have noticed that a lot (not all) of these pence copies of Marvel comic books imported here to the UK have brighter colours to them. 

They appear to be a lot richer; they have deeper blacks and sharper lines, implying that this was at the beginning of a particular printing run on the press when the machine’s ink would have been filled or topped up.

Later issues from the printing process (those that likely remained in the US, due to not needing additional shipping time) are often discovered to be lighter in colour tone. This indicates that the inks were (at that point at least) running low on the machines.

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So what are the Differences between a US Cent print and a UK Pence?

Honestly, almost nothing! The only difference between these two books is the Price Plate used, but that’s just the early American import comics! As the years (even decades) went on, here in the UK, we also had our own publications printed of these “Amazing” Stories!

I genuinely believe the UK had more options for reading comic books than any country worldwide!

Using Spider-man as an example, because that’s what I remember most fondly from my childhood: We had “Weeklys” and Completes.

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Leading into the early seventies, the UK began reprinting some of the more classic Marvel Spider-Man tales in larger newspaper format. 

Due to the low quality of the paper and inks used at this time, many of these books are rather scarce these days.  Many were thrown away shortly after use or used as packaging material for parcels. 

Moving on into the eighties, the UK went back to a more standard US comic book size and style, combining Spider-Man stories into one book.

You see, at this time in the US, Spider-Man had really found his audience and had multiple titles running at the same time. 

In fact, there were four Spider-Man titles per month at one point. Those four were compiled into one book here in the UK, titled “The Complete Amazing Spider-Man.”

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I myself have fond memories of this particular UK series. They were released one to two months after the initial US release.  This series consisted of stories from each of the four main titles at that time.

Spiderman – Todd McFarlane’s now classic run.

Spectacular Spider-man.

Web of Spider-man.

And of course The Amazing Spider-man. 

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This then brought us onto the nineties and a now-classic period for Spider-man. This time period gave us story arcs such as the Clone Saga. It also introduced us to characters such as Ben Reilly and Kaine.

Along with these stories came a new UK-printed Spider-Man comic book titled: “Astonishing Spider-Man,” by Panini. But alas, not all UK Pence books are created equal.

Should all UK pence comics be worth more than their US counterparts?

No, Of course not. 

The Weeklys, Completes, and Astonishing Books are all reprints and SHOULD be treated as such. BUT, those original exported books from the US back in those early days SHOULD most certainly be cherished.

These pence books have a lower print run than their US counterparts. They have survived shipping across the seas. Have survived the passage of time (much like their US brethren). They have deeper, more vibrant colours and are quite literally the definition of “Hot off the Press”.

Over the years, we collectors have seen many Canadian price variant books demand much higher prices than their more common American Counterparts. Isn’t it time the UK pence variant had its time at the top?

Want more International Variant spec?

Are you a fan of pence variants? Let us know in the comments!

Upgrade2_Footer Making Sense of Pence: A Look at UK Pence Variants*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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1 comment

dosselmeyer September 12, 2022 - 11:14 am

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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