Would You Pay $7,100 For a Half-Inch Piece of Paper?

by Ryan Kirksey

032222B-1024x536 Would You Pay $7,100 For a Half-Inch Piece of Paper?If you follow comic books and comic book news, you are likely aware of the unprecedented ComicConnect Auction that ended on March 15. In that auction, a small piece of the cover of Action Comics #1 sold for $7,101 after 27 bids moved the value up to that price point. But this was a unique specimen in that it was just the “No. 1” piece of the cover and was preserved and graded by CGC, getting a “CVR” designation, plus the coveted White Pages.

action1-188x300 Would You Pay $7,100 For a Half-Inch Piece of Paper?CGC’s authenticators were able to verify that it was a piece of the cover of the first appearance of Superman. Apparently, it was purchased in a separate auction around nine years ago from a collector who put together a collection of “No.” pieces from various Action Comics of the past. The “No. 1” piece was then slabbed by CGC after that purchase. They would later say it was the smallest comic they have ever preserved.

Values of these small slices of Action Comics #1 have been climbing for years, so we know there is a market out there. The real question is, however, if money was no object, would you buy this piece of history? Would you spend seven grand on that piece of paper?

Past Sales of Action Comics #1 Pieces

Perhaps a single half-inch piece of the cover doesn’t do it for you. Maybe you would rather have shreds of multiple pages? A bag of authenticated shreds of Action Comics #1 (plus a staple) sold for $410 in December of 2020.

How about a single page seven that concludes the first Superman story? In the same auction as the “No. 1,” that page sold for $11,611. What makes that page special are the multiple panels featuring Superman, including the splash panel that declares Superman will be featured in Action Comics moving forward. In the rarest comics, pages like that are like pure gold.

action1-shreds-234x300 Would You Pay $7,100 For a Half-Inch Piece of Paper?

There are countless other examples of partial sales of Action Comics #1. Our own Matt Tuck uncovered some of those when he wrote a 2020 blog about the topic, including looking at a Page 1 of Action Comics #1 that sold for more than $25,000.

Action Comics #1 Continues to Sell at a Record Pace

This sale of the “No. 1” comes on the heels of a complete CGC 6.0 copy that sold in January for $3.18 million. But even that sale doesn’t set the record for this particular book. A CGC 8.5 copy sold for $3.25 million in April 2021 and a CGC 9.0 (one of two in the world, and the highest grade) sold for $3.2 million in 2014 and would likely fetch over $4 million today without breaking a sweat.

Even a CGC 3.0 copy that went up for sale at ComicConnect in late 2021 finished the auction at over $1.6 million. That’s a cool $1.3 million increase over the same book sold in November 2014.

With a relatively high number of recent sales of graded copies (there are only 43 CGC blue label copies known to exist in the world), the “No. 1” piece was clearly riding the wave of inflation on this historic book. When you factor in recent sales, the $7,100 almost makes sense. But what about a complete cover?

action1-heritage-200x300 Would You Pay $7,100 For a Half-Inch Piece of Paper?

What Would an Action Comics #1 Cover Cost?

The original Action Comics #1 was a comic book measuring 7.5″ by 10.25″. If my eighth-grade math still works, that means the surface area of an AC #1 cover is 76.875 inches. That means the area of a half-inch by half-inch piece of the cover was only about 3% of the total area of the cover. Does that then mean that a whole cover would sell for $236,667 if 3% sold for $7,100? Actually, that’s probably close.

Information on Action Comics #1 cover sales is much more difficult to find. In fact, I have not been able to find a sale of one. But I have no doubt with today’s comic prices a full cover would clear a quarter of a million with no problem. You would have all the elements that would make it valuable. The Action Comics logo. The art of Superman. The date. And the 10 cents price mark that separates it from all future reprints.

How Badly Do You Want a Piece of History?

If the exercise is to consider how badly you want a piece of that book if money is no object, it comes down to a simple question. How badly do you want to own a piece of history? There are very few opportunities to own books like AC #1 or Detective Comics #27. That’s why buyers pay a premium when they do go up for sale.

But would you buy a scrap of paper that said “No. 1” on it, if I dropped $7,100 in your lap? Let me know in the comments what you would do. Me? I think I’m taking that $7,100 and buying a full, complete key with it.

AAA-Ryan-Kirksey-footer Would You Pay $7,100 For a Half-Inch Piece of Paper?*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect investment advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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steve March 23, 2022 - 2:13 pm

a fool and his money are soon parted

Lou LaRocca March 24, 2022 - 8:22 am

I was very unhappy to see this item go up for auction and fetch that price. It’s one thing to bring an incomplete book, or a leftover piece of a book, to market. It’s another thing entirely to deliberately cut up a book into parts like this.

The sale of this piece creates a perverse incentive for people to destroy comics because they think they can get more money for the parts than the whole. And I worry that this is exactly what we’re going to see now that this precedent has been set.

Bryan March 24, 2022 - 12:08 pm

Hi Lou – I don’t think that is the case. As the article demonstrated, a 3% piece of the cover sold for $7,100. Hence, the whole cover would “only” be worth approx $236,000. Even a single key page only sold for $11,600. With a 6.0 fetching 3.18 mil (heck, even the 3.0 @ $1.6 mil), I don’t see why anyone would purposefully cut up a book and lose a significant portion of its value.

Lou LaRocca March 24, 2022 - 12:39 pm

Thanks for the reply Brian.

I agree with you that nobody is likely to cut up a 6.0 Action #1 on purpose. But there is already some evidence that people with low-grade or incomplete copies of other keys like Amazing Fantasy #15 might just want to grade and sell individual pages.

Or hey, maybe somebody speculates that since Doctor Strange isn’t on the cover of Strange Tales #110, they can get more for the splash page that introduced him inside the book than they could for a low-grade copy of the book itself.

I would be on the lookout for low-grade Silver Age keys getting this treatment. Now, if overall supply on the book in question is high enough, you might say it’s no big deal. And maybe that’s true. It just sets off alarm bells for me.

t disalvo March 24, 2022 - 7:22 pm

Seeing this makes me think there is yet another great bubble about to burst. I guess I just wish I had 7,000 to spend on a comic…but if I did it would be a whole comic!

Frank Lopiccolo March 24, 2022 - 8:52 pm

ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!! What’s next, Mickey Mantle’s Topps rookie card or Honus Wagner’s with JUST the cards number in a Slab?!? What would they sell for?!? For me, i wouldn’t even pay $0.71 for just a tiny piece of paper from ANY comic book. Nor would i buy ANY coverless comic or one with a single page missing. Or one with a coupon cut out. Those are all damaged and i have ZERO interest in them.

patrickbain2012 March 24, 2022 - 9:04 pm

I don’t think anyone would auction a complete cover by itself. Or for that matter, get it graded by itself. Why not buy a coverless comic and “marry them”? Restored comics have much easier market comparables.

patrickbain2012 March 28, 2022 - 1:53 am

By the way, I forgot to add, Ryan, thanks for bringing this story to our attention. I had missed it and am GLAD I wasn’t following it closely from the beginning. I do agree with everyone who looks at this as purely ridiculous and cause for concern.

Kenloi March 25, 2022 - 5:06 am

Just NO


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