Tracking CGC Census: An Experiment

by Patrick Bain

Iron-Man-1-Ross-Variant-Edition-195x300 Tracking CGC Census: An ExperimentWhat if it’s true that supply and demand affect price?  For graded comics, think about the awesome power for buyers and sellers to have a count of comics in each grade! What could be more logical than measuring that supply against price?  An experiment formed in my mind…why not start tracking the CGC Census of a particular comic along with changes in price?

CGC Census Experiment Anyone?

Venom26-194x300 Tracking CGC Census: An ExperimentFor a time, I taught math in college.  The nice thing about teaching… I can “suggest” a group activity.  Of course, students who want an “A” have to embrace my suggestion.  I don’t have that power with GoCollect readers, but I hope you will indulge me.  Join me in tracking CGC census for 3 to 10 modern high grade comics.  We will graph the census count for 9.8 comics against the Fair Market Value.  The objective: determine if huge increases in 9.8 slabbed comics supply results in plateauing or decreasing Fair Market Value.

Tracking CGC Census Breakdown

Venom-26-CGC-Census-247x300 Tracking CGC Census: An ExperimentHere’s where I started.  GoCollect provides a list of most actively sold comics in the categories of New, Modern, Bronze, and Silver. You can also look at all of them together.  Let’s focus on New comics since they could see the most volatile change in census numbers.  Of the top 100 comics listed, I grabbed the number one from Wednesday December 9.  Venom 26 held that spot.  Tiggomverse 1 claimed spot 100, so I selected that comic as well.  And then I selected a few in between.

Four of those five comics are variants.  Census counts vary from as low as 17 slabbed 9.8’s to 1,054.  None can boast a Fair Market Value above $100.  For me, I harvested data first on Wednesday December 9th.  Each Wednesday I will gather the same data points.  I focused only on the Universal grades class choosing 9.8 since the vast majority of graded new comics are in that range.  Fair market value is my proxy for price, GoCollect Starter Model works fine.  Each week I can gather more data points to test my hypothesis that as supply increases, the FMV reflects less price growth.

Star-Wars-6-Christopher-Action-Figure-Variant-199x300 Tracking CGC Census: An ExperimentVenom 26 – FMV $32 – CGC Census 1,054
Batman 93 Jimenez Variant (9.8) – FMV – $50 – CGC Census 164
Iron Man 1 Ross Variant Edition (9.8) – FMV – $90 – CGC Census 80
Star Wars 6 Christopher Action Figure Variant – FMV – $30 – CGC Census 30
Tiggomverse 1 Venom #7 Crain Edition (9.8) – FMV – $46 – CGC Census 17

Variations on a Theme – Thor 5

Thor-5-Ribic-Variant-193x300 Tracking CGC Census: An ExperimentFive more comics (or versions of the same comic) are worthy of my study.  All feature the Thunder God in Thor 5.  First, it’s important to recognize that this is not Thor 1998, 2015, or 2018.  Our subject comic hails from the 2020 Thor series.  Each of the versions below is for Thor 5.  Of course, no one is surprised that even more versions exist but I did not bother to include them in the study.

From these, we may ascertain the impact of multiple variations and printings on price.  Particularly, what impact does increasing supply of high grade specialty versions have on the price of your comic?

1st Printing (basic cover) – FMV – $120 – CGC Census 1,362
1st Printing Ribic Variant – FMV – $400 – CGC Census 266
2rd Printing Virgin Edition – FMW – $60 – CGC Census 91
3rd Printing – FMV – $34 – CGC Census 634
3rd Printing Virgin Edition – FMV – $60 – CGC Census 84

Summary and Marching Orders (Request?)

Thor-5-2nd-Printing-Virgin-Edition-195x300 Tracking CGC Census: An ExperimentTwo months is all I ask.  I’m going to track a minimum of eight weeks just to see what happens.  If enough people are interested in the experiment, some meaningful conclusions may emerge.  So, please join in, and when you do, find comics (preferably new or modern) of interest to you.  Then, once a week log the FMV and the census count for 9.8 comics of your choice.  Also, you can comment on what you observe or send your data to me for consolidation. Leave a comment with your comics under study so we don’t all choose the same ones.  Finally, it’s possible we’ll find something interesting when tracking CGC census.

So remember, each comic is as unique as a snowflake–mass manufactured from a single mold.

If you enjoy analytics, you may be interested in my Silver Age Original Art Index.

Addendum to the CGC Census Tracking Experiment

Between the writing of this article and publication, I received some tremendous help from Eddie Ruminski of the CGC Comics Fans Facebook group.  Eddie directed me to the website. provides CGC HISTORICAL census data.  Of course, for our experiment, we still need a means of tracking market value.

Here’s how you can use the tools.  For each comic you want to track: enter the title, issue number, and prior census date.  (They have additional fields for qualification, but you can refine your search later.)  Next, select the “SEARCH!” button.  For example, I entered “Thor”, “5”, and a prior census date of 2001.  Note, if I wanted to limit my search I could have entered a more recent prior date or made additional qualification since I know Thor 5 is from the 2020 series.  After applying the search, a LONG table was generated.  See the picture below for the books I was searching for.

CGCdata-Census-Tracking-for-Thor-5-300x121 Tracking CGC Census: An Experiment

This view shows all the books matching my first search.  Now, I can select each book one at a time to see the historical breakdown of census.  For Thor 5 Ribic Variant cover, it generates census numbers for each grade beginning in July and going down through the present.

Now We’re Ready

So, our experiment may be easier, but historical market value is still necessary. At this point, I recommend utilizing FMV from GoCollect as a means for determining price.  Logging values for comics of interest to you will still be necessary and could be captured by reviewing sales.  However, the FMV takes market data and synthesizes that data into a single reasonable value.  So, that is more efficient.  After our experiment on modern, I would encourage you to look at the same strategy for some of your keys.  Census will not change very fast for older comics.  Furthermore, I would not recommend using “9.8” as your standard if zero sales exist where FMV is estimated rather than calculated based on actual sales.

And now we’re ready; let’s do this experiment and see what happens.  Half the work is already done for you!

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octoberland January 5, 2021 - 2:51 pm

Howdy! I’ve been doing this for the past five years or so. I will say that I do not typically buy moderns, though that is changing. While I do not maintain the detailed information you are looking at, I am not sure 8 weeks is long enough to really know? Seems like these price trends are a little longer in playing out for Copper and earlier books. I’m curious if you can spot a trend that quickly in moderns. I do know they flash and fade super quickly so it seems like there might be a chance. If so, I think that would provide a wonderful insight into the modern game.

What is interesting to me is whether you get the graded books popping and imploding as quickly as the raw copies do. I am suspecting slabs hold for a longer time. IMHO, the raw market is spastic while folks try to grab copies early as cheaply as possible for whatever reasons. Then they move on the next week. However, the underlying spec on a property is still there. If you believe the spec is strong I would figure that they hold price as people who ‘believe’ are now locking down their 9.8s while others move on to the flavor of the week in raw condition.

With the time lag from release to grading to sale, I am wondering if the supply will be enough to meet the demand in an 8 week window? Perhaps another angle to this is checking from Release Date + X Weeks to account for slabbing? Then see if prices yield information once the market has had “enough” access time to slabs? If that makes sense?

Also, I think that variants throw a massive wrench into the works. It would be interesting to see if there is any connection between Cover A verses variant over time. Maybe a way to spot those future heat variants before they completely leave the station.

You have an interesting study looming. Looking forward to the insights!

– Craig Coffman

Patrick Bain January 5, 2021 - 6:05 pm

Craig, I love your comment and analysis. I put such a short time frame simply because that may be as long as attention can be maintained. However, based on my other researches I do believe that it is too short to get an accurate assessment of trends. I would actually just love to have a follow up article with a conversation on your observations. Given that you have been doing something similar for five years (which would include this bubble period), I think you have some insights that readers would find helpful.

octoberland January 5, 2021 - 6:09 pm

I would be happy to follow up with you. Always trying to improve the process 🙂

+email edited+

It’s pretty busy for me coming out of the holidays, but drop a line when you are free.

– Craig Coffman

Patrick Bain January 6, 2021 - 8:17 pm

That would be great. I’ll follow up in a few weeks and no hurry on the response!.

tapownage37 January 6, 2021 - 1:15 pm

Starting the experiment late, would it skew the data if I focus on just one book? At least for the first 8 weeks during this experiment. I chose Black Cat #2 Brooks C Variant

Patrick Bain January 6, 2021 - 8:15 pm

No problem, it won’t be a tightly controlled statistical experiment. In fact, to do this right we would need to introduce some random selection and other elements to make valid inferences. On the other hand, we may still get some useful discussion from people like Craig who have been doing similar activities for a long time.


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