THE ultimate Spider-Man collection is up for sale and it makes me realize that perhaps I never dreamed big enough as a collector. Steve Levine has been collecting all things Spider-Man for the past fifty years, including every comic book that even hints at the web-slinger (like Daredevil #1 – why is Spidey on that cover?). It takes a lot of passion, determination, money, and time to make something epic like this come together. And now it is up for sale. Check it out! The collection is expected to sell for well over $1 million, thanks to books like an Amazing Spider-Man #1 graded at 9.0. The comics are certainly cool, but I think that the books aren’t even the best part of this story.
The Secret to 50 Years of Collecting
I asked Michael Brunner of FairWay Comics & Collectables, who is working with Steve on this project, for one secret as to how Steve has managed to keep up this passion for all these years. He tells me that, “Steve’s wife has always been supportive of her husband’s hobby.” That is clearly one benefit of starting to collect in his pre-teen years; his wife started out with a clear understanding of his passion for all things Spider-Man. Michael also mentioned that Steve’s wife has her own little hobby of collecting fashionable shoes and purses. I’m sure that a rare pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or a first edition Prada (if there is such a thing) might rival the value of Steve’s Amazing Fantasy #15.
Tips for Collecting
What other lessons can the rest of us mere mortals learn from watching someone like Steve create such an incredible collection?
Be patient – Buy the things that really bring you joy. There is no need to rush. I think we can all relate to this. I remember buying an X-Men #3 that was in horrible shape. A year later I ended up selling at a loss. This is because after the initial rush of having the book, I wasn’t very proud of it.
Strive for special – Collect the best quality you can. Hunt down the key issues that relate to why you love to collect. Many collectors have dozens of long boxes of books stuck in closets. Only a few special comics are worth showing off or discussing. Focus on those special items.
Network with other collectors – Collecting has changed a lot over the 50 years Steve has been collecting, but the fundamentals of art and storytelling are as important today as ever. The passion of collecting can be a singular pursuit sometimes, but it is really better when people come together. This hobby has evolved from rummaging in antique stores and scouring eBay to today’s abundant resources and grading services. Now more than ever, the joy of collecting comes from the connection many of us get discussing (sometimes arguing) live or over the internet about stories, art, and valuations. Have fun, collect those things that speak to you, and remember to share your passion with others.
The Most Impressive Thing – Courage and Love
The completeness of Steve’s collection is inspiring. The toys and cross-over items include things I had never imagined could carry a Spider-man image and the valuations are eye-popping. But the most admirable part is that Steve is selling this collection as he is losing his battle with cancer. Steve is an attorney, as I have been. I’m sure he has seen countless situations where surviving spouses or families are left with strange but valuable stuff. Amid stress and loss, families often have no idea how to deal with a garage full of antique cars, a warehouse full of replacement parts for a family business, or any number of other difficult-to-sell assets.
What I admire most about this situation is that Steve is liquidating his collection now, for the benefit of his family. I can only call that a display of courage and love. That, my friends, is as good as it gets. I hope that the powers at Marvel’s parent Disney, find a way to acquire this collection – it seems like something Stan Lee or Walt Disney himself would want to do.
PS – several of us in my old neighborhood grew up collecting and playing poker for books. If you ever did that, you should check out the Spider-Steve Collection Comic Book. Steve Levine certainly deserves a seat at that illustrious table.
*Update* Sadly, Mr. Levine passed away on Wed, 2/17/21. His memory lives on through his family and his love of collecting.
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