Rarity Rules!

by Michael Vlachakis

127710_c5a2d7bbd77e9227b51b88785109d5d0cde5de51-196x300 Rarity Rules!

There seems to be an overriding sense of “being a collector” when you are trying to speculate about comics and make some money on the market.  Sometimes I watch the value of a comic go up and I say to myself “why is this happening?”.  It doesn’t make sense because…there are hundreds of them on the census, they are always for sale, and I can always buy one.  So, as a collector, what makes it special and why would I want it?  But then there are some comics out there that hold rarity above everything else, and for me these are where the real gains can be made.  Let’s take a look at a couple.

When a character becomes popular, you tend to witness a tremendous gain in value for their first appearance book.  If you happen to hit THE nexus (where your comic hits a popularity peak while also possessing rarity)…you will have a very good day.  And I will say it again: all things being equal, the rarer a comic the better.  When Black Panther was released, the first sale of a 9.8 graded Jungle Action #6 (which features the first appearance of Killmonger, and there are only 7 copies on the census) nearly doubled all the previous sales.  The next sale doubled again, and the next.  Market prices have finally settled around the $5000 mark, but recently no sales have happened despite copies being available on the market.

Many books can be considered “rare” by the measure of the census, but what does it really mean to be considered such?  Avengers #145 is a comic that I have wanted to see hit the market in a 9.8 grade for quite sometime.  This book has the first appearance of The Assassin and has a great classic cover by Kane and Adkins.  Of the 77 graded copies (in the good old blue label) only 7 exist in the highest grade.  7 copies seems rare, and by any account it is, but those 7 copies represent approximately 9% of the total graded copies.  For me to consider a 9.8 rare, I always like to aim for a ratio closer to 5%, or lower, of the total graded copies.  But this book has not had a recorded sale at a 9.8 grade in a over a year…which may be a better indicator of how rare this particular book might be.

A better real-world representation of comic rarity would be Marvel Premiere #1.  With the hype around Warlock growing steadily since the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, most titles associated with the character are seeing gains on the market.  If Warlock does make an appearance, you can expect Marvel Premiere #1 to be a prime recipient of the value pop.  This book is the first appearance of the Warlock persona (in a transition from the “Him” character) and is a highly desired title among collectors.  Now lets talk rarity…of the 1221 graded copies on the census, there are 9 copies at a 9.8 grade.  That works out to a ratio of 0.7% of copies at the highest grade.  For anyone holding one of these copies at the moment in time when Adam Warlock is confirmed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it will surely be a spectacular day for a speculator looking to cash-in.

What is the most rare book that you possess?  Is there a certain rare comic that is taking your attention for Phase IV?  Drop your comments and join the speculation!

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Michael Stinson August 30, 2019 - 2:00 pm

Hey, Michael, when positing rarity one cannot go by census in my opinion. In the case of Avengers 145, I doubt many were submitted for grading/encapsulation. Who cares about this book? Not a big interest. Going strictly by census your premise is indeed valid though. But I would want to inject a rational sense of overall desirability and therefore a push to encapsulate. Just a thought. Your comments and articles are engaging and thoughtful. Carry on!

Anthony Tothe August 30, 2019 - 3:18 pm

I think more than anything else, demand drives what books are on the census. I think you can pick various Archie books from, say’ the 2000’s and look to see if they are on the census. Probably will not find many simply because there is no demand for the book. There are plenty in dollar boxes everywhere! So they are not rare. Obviously this can change, as certain Archie books have become sought after.

So I agree rarity is a key factor in driving values. I am a big PCH collector! So I agree…I think it just hard to determine what is actually rare and don’t think looking at the CGC census is the final word on rarity.

falcon760 August 31, 2019 - 10:20 am

The census make give an indication of the book’s population, but demand should play into it too. Also, the reason why people collect key issues is because there is a chance the demand might increase. So you collect Avengers #145 because there’s only a couple on the census? I suppose from a financial perspective but you better not overpay for the raw copy plus, because that’s quite a risk for an investment into a comic that nobody wants. But I agree with you that the gold standard for collecting is a comic of great rarity and very popular (in demand), but that’s not Avengers #145.


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