Nowadays if you have valuable Golden or Silver Aged comics it’s not unusual to get them officially graded and slabbed (encased in plastic). This means, of course, that you have to break them out of the plastic if you want to read them. Luckily, the same stories are quite easy to find in reprinted format. If you really want to go all out, and say read an entire run -or several story arcs -of an older comic, you may even decide to pick up the Omnibus edition. These oversized hardcover reprints feature cleaned-up extra-sized pages, often with additional bonus material (like selections from the original letters page, or early unused artwork, as backup features).
Back in the 1970s, by contrast, the closest thing to an ‘Omnibus’ edition of your favorite comic would have been the Treasury or Collector’s edition reprints. The Treasury Edition or Marvel Treasury Special and DC Collector’s or Special Series Editions are what I want to focus on here. Oversized editions were, of course, released by other comic book publishers (such as Archie Comics), but here I will narrow my focus to only DC and Marvel titles.
These oversized comics are devotedly collected by some people, but that trend seems like a niche to collecting regular sized (so-called floppy) issues of comics. That doesn’t mean that these comics cannot be valuable.
In the comic book collecting world, as is the case with other collectibles, it is demand that drives prices and dictates the monetary worth of an item. Of course, an over-supply of any highly desired comic can work to diminish price if that same comic becomes too easily and widely available. In the case of older comics, like the ‘Treasury’ or large-sized editions however, even when supply is high, the number of units still in high to mint grade condition tends to be quite low.
In the case of the Treasury and Special editions it was the oversized format that especially contributed to their scarcity in high and mint grade condition. These comics were hard to store, easy to ding-up and tear and, in general, more accident prone than a normal sized comic. I’ve still never actually seen a CGC graded Treasury edition, and if this trend continues high grade copies of these comics will become even more-scarce in the future.
But if you’re interested in owning a Treasury Collection where should you start?
The first oversized editions were published during the Bronze Age and most consisted of reprinted stories in the larger, oversized, format with specially commissioned covers.
DC began the trend with its line of ‘Limited Collectors’ Edition‘ comics. These were published from 1972-1978 and variously numbered from 20-59 all prefaced with a “C” (for Collectors’ Edition). The series was almost exclusively made up of reprints of older DC Comics and also included the off-shoot ‘Famous First Editions‘ (#s C-26, 28 and 30, and F-4 to F-8: all exact reprints of classic Golden Age debuts, i.e. Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, Whiz Comics #2, etc.).
The “C-” preface was also used before the ‘DC All-New Collectors’ Edition‘ (#’s C-53- C-62) which, as the title indicated, were new stories and not reprints. And finally, there were the specially indicated: ‘DC Special Series‘ (#’s 25-27 with no “C” preface). The special series were also never before published works and included a photo-comic with set-photos from the film ‘Superman II’ as well as a DC-Marvel crossover event,
DC Special Series #27: Batman versus the Incredible Hulk (October 1981), by Len Wein, José Luis García-López, and Dick Giordano.
The most valuable of the DC Limited Collectors’ Edition are probably: Limited Collectors’ Edition # C-20: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (December 1972) which reprints DC Comics, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer #’s 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. A VG+ copy sold on Ebay for $98.00 on Sept, 1, 2018.
Also valuable is the original story published as: All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-56: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978), which included a Whitman variant version, and can sell for up to $200.00 in NM condition (Best offer on an Ebay sale of August 8, 2018).
The first oversized comic put out by Marvel, by contrast, was published in 1974, that comic was: Marvel Treasury Edition (Treasury-Size) #1 – Spectacular Spider-Man (1974), which was to become the first of twenty-eight Treasury Editions released by Marvel that by the end of their run would include oversized reprints of everything from The Fantastic Four, Thor, Conan, Howard the Duck and many others.
The first Spider-man Treasury in NM- condition sold for $89.98 on Ebay, September 03, 2018.
Close to the end of the run, new stories were also included in the Marvel Treasury imprint. Two never before published stories can be found in Volume 25: Spider-Man vs. the Hulk at the Winter Olympics (1980) and Volume 28: Superman versus Spider-man (1984), which was another DC-Marvel crossover event and can fetch up to $30.00 in higher grade.
The only other new story in larger size was published as a spin-off of this series released under the indicia of: Marvel Treasury Special #1: Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles (1976) [not to be confused with Marvel Treasury Special #1 (1974), which was a Superhero ‘Holiday Grab-Bag’ reprinting several older Super-hero stories from various Marvel comics).
A high grade copy of Marvel Treasury Special #1: Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles sold for $56.00 in an Ebay auction completed July 22, 2018.