“With great power comes great…” well you know… Amazing Fantasy #15. Besides being a comic EVERYONE would love to have in their collection, it rises above all other Silver Age comics. The first appearance of Spider-Man is the landmark of all landmarks from the era. So you might think I had webs in my head If I offered you a near-high grade copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 for under twenty grand. You would do a spider-flip if I offered to throw in Amazing Spider-Man #1 and the next nine issues. Also in superb condition. And just for good measure Strange Tales Annual #2 PLUS Stan Lee’s autograph. All this for just under $20,000. Oh, there is a catch. You can’t offset the cost by selling just some of the comics, like maybe that Strange Tales Annual. That’s because the whole group comes as one book, just the greatest set of Silver Age Bound Comics EVER! AND yes, in 2019 someone bought the whole set for $19,200 through Heritage Auctions. Overstreet VG 4.0 value: $24,966 IF able to purchase separately for 2018 list values.
Silver Age Keys Bound like Library Periodicals
In Part 1, I focused on some unbelievable Golden Age treasures. Even though I argued bound volumes of Action Comics 1-24 were possibly as unique as original art, clearly the demand failed to rival expectations. Is the same true for bound Silver Age comics? The Spider-Man set suggests that possibility.
However, let’s review some captivating past sales and some items currently in the market. Perhaps you will describe the offerings as novel but nothing you would collect. Alternatively, you may decide these fifty and sixty-year-old tomes could hold a place of distinction in your personal library.
A set of three books collected the first seventy-five issues of Daredevil. Though they appear to belong on a university library bookshelf, I bid on them hoping to get them on mine. The VG 4.0 appraisal reflected a supposed value of $2,786. The eventual sale price of $1,680 finished below where I was willing to go, yet I wavered since the earliest issues had some damage. Could this be one of my collecting regrets, or will other opportunities come around?
Some Sets are Organized Differently Than Others
Not every bound set is one through ten or organized strictly based on publication year. The Marvel Silver Age Annuals set is comprised of specials from multiple years for various titles. Pictured is the Fantastic Four, issues 2 – 8 included. But annuals for Spider-Man, the Avengers, Thor, and others join together to form a novel survey of Marvel in the sixties. At VG 4.0, the list value for the individual comics tops $650.
The final sales price including the buyer’s premium of $338 betters the halfway mark by just a little. Bound comics selling at a discount is a recurring theme. Great for buyers, not too good for sellers, and a question mark for investors/speculators! Again, these comics appear to be much nicer than VG 4.0, BUT they suffer in condition from the trimming and binding process.
Sneaking in a Silver Bronze Age Bound Set
Continuing the theme of organization, one collector pulled together key issues related to Adam Warlock into two bound volumes. The contents included Fantastic Four #66 and #67, issues of Thor, Marvel Premier, Warlock, and others. Of course, one thing you can’t do with an investment-grade slabbed comic (most people anyway): crack it open to read it with your morning coffee. Perhaps this collector adored Adam Warlock, especially with his morning “joe”. That is one of the beauties of binding, it preserves the contents and allows reasonably easy reading.
Was it a good financial decision? Well, like grading and protection services, binding is not as cheap as buying poly bags. Heritage Auctions must have thought highly of the condition of these comics. Unlike its typical approach of providing only a VG 4.0 value, they also indicated the FN 6.0 value. Those amounts came to $548 and $822, respectively. Even though I rarely drink coffee, I wouldn’t mind having these two books on my coffee table for the final hammer price with a premium of $156. So, it appears likely someone suffered an opportunity-loss compared to keeping and selling the comics individually.
In the Market for Silver Age Bound Comics?
I can’t give away all my secrets. Despite the gloomy prognosis from a speculative point of view, there’s still some magic in collected, readable books. So, just to make sure you are not bidding against me, I’ll hold back a little info.
However, I reached out to one collector with a lot of bound books for sale in the past and present. This eBay seller expressed a little regret in his descriptions about the opportunity cost of binding his Silver/Bronze age comics rather than keeping them in their original high-grade condition. If he is willing, I will share his story later and direct you to his future sales.
My observation is that he is reaping good returns based on a VG 4.0 outlook, but not as good as if they were sold separately. For example, Iron Man issues 51 through 60 sold for a final bid of $271. Who knew that Thanos would become HUGE back when he was introduced in issue #55?
An Afterthought on Graded vs. Bound
I’m sorry that I’m 900 words into this blog and just getting around to talking slabbed vs. bound. I think the differences are clear. For investment potential, do NOT bind your comics! For readability, bind them and LOVE them–or just polybag them. With this type of collectible, it’s better to be a buyer than a seller. Unfortunately, at some point, we ALL become sellers. There are as many ways to organize your binding as there are ways to organize your bookshelf. Big difference, once bound, don’t bother changing the order!
Even though I try to focus my articles on original art, there’s more to say on this topic. In Part 3, I’ll talk about bound comics as readers. Be sure to check out Part 1 on Bound Volume Comics. Just be sure you are in a comfy chair, it’s the Homer’s Iliad of blogs. By the way, today’s feature image comes from a listing in 2019 for Twenty-One (21) bound volumes of Amazing Spider-Man running from issue 32 to 283 with a bunch of annuals thrown in. This guy left a lot of money on the table, BUT WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SET! The final price with a premium of $2,760 compared to a notional value of $3,929. What a great collection!