Collecting comics and speculating on which ones may gain value over time can be two different things. An apt speculator will use all of the tools and information at his/her disposal to make the proper choices when adding to a collection. Over time I have found one truth in collecting and speculating…you can’t own them all. I know, I’ve tried. Sites like GoCollect.com are here to help with the data and confusion that can come with collecting. Math is our friend, and I am here to help you make sense of the whirling mess of numbers called the CGC Census.
The CGC Census (census) is simply a log of all registered graded comics that have been graded by Certified Guarantee Company (CGC). You can see quantity by all the various grades, restored and Signature Series (SS) copies by grade, and get a snapshot of how popular a comic may be to collectors. As I like to say in business when working with large data sets; “I can make the data say anything you want.” Many times, I take a look at census data, formulate a rational decision, and throw it immediately out the window because, well, I want it. However, census data can be helpful in choosing between two seemingly equal choices.
For the sake of base-lining our discussion, I will use Amazing Spider-Man #101 which features the first appearance of Morbius the Vampire. As you can imagine, this is a popular comic book, it has over 2200 CGC graded copies in existence. Look forward one more issue to ASM #102 and you see only 917 graded copies. You don’t have to be an ad wizard to see which book is more popular with collectors. Amazing Spider-Man #101 has the type of census distribution that one would expect to see. A high number of mid-graded copies and fewer at the higher grades. In fact, of the total, only 31 grade 9.8 copies exists…and remember that is all page colors (not part of the census, but more on that topic later). This is equal to 1.5% of graded copies, making a 9.8 extremely rare, and therefore (hopefully) extremely valuable.
Amazing Spider-Man #101 has a Fair Market Value of $12,000 at 9.8 grade. The open market saw a copy sell around $9,000 over a year ago, and a recent Comiclink sell went for $14,000. Some might say Whoa $14K?? But with an extremely low census, at 9.8, and speculation for the character continuing to drive prices, that price jump may be warranted in the long run. The truth is, when it comes to a comic that is popular and few on the census at top grades, you either have to pay the asking price or miss out and I believe you are seeing more of this buyer mentality on the market. This fact will remain true with older comics that continue to be graded…even if a collector tried to keep a comic pristine, there is no guarantee of a high grade and there will not be an influx of 9.8’s on the market…probably ever. A few copies may make the grade, but that 1.5% number should hold solid for years to come. Any collector holding a high graded copy of Amazing Spider-Man #101 can expect to eventually cash in on a potential movie and prove out the census math.
What low census books do you think are sleepers on the market? Do you believe I went the whole blog without mentioning how awful Jared Leto is? Any other characters you want to see on the big screen in the future? Drop your comments and join in the speculation!