Friday, October 12, 2007

Rare Finds

It was reported earlier this week that a comic dealer in Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania, had a man come into his shop with a rare edition of Detective Comics #27 - the first appearance of Batman. It turns out that the man found a copy of the comic in his attic, and the book was still in pretty good condition after all these years (given the book came out pre-World War II and hadn't been put in any special protective bagging or such). Of course, the shop owner made the man a good, fair offer for the book. He most certainly will be able to turn over the book for a profit given that issue's importance in comic book history.

This reminds me of something my father used to tell me about when I got into collecting comics in the late 70's. As a kid growing up in the 30's and early 40's, he actually had a copy of Whiz Comics #1 - the first appearance of Captain Marvel. I am sure he had other wonderful classics as well. But, of course, the story turns instantly sad when he told me that all those books went to either the trash or to paper drives for the war efforts. The thought of that was just shocking to me as a young comic collector at the time. It still stings today some. If he had somehow kept the book and it was in a very good condition, he could have paid for my college education with that one single sale. That's mind-blowing.

Rare finds like these are no doubt harder and harder to come by in this day and age. With the advent of online auction sites such as eBay and the Internet full of information in general, I can't imagine how someone could stumble across one of these older comics and not be able to find out what kind of treasure they have. Of course, the opposite happens too. Folks stumble across these old books that are not in great shape at all (torn covers, written on, etc.) but they don't know much about comic grading and thus think the books are worth more than they are. It's a double-edged sword.

Still, it is nice to hear stories like this - that these classic pieces of comic book history are at least making their way into the hands of folks who will try to preserve them. I'd rather that happen then them end up in some landfill somewhere.


apachedug said...

Hey Martin--you know I live in Pittsburgh, and this is the first I've heard of this! Wow!

As a kid buying comics in the 1970s, my dad & 2 uncles often commented on my collection (with the bags n' boards, etc); all 3 of 'em read comics in the 1950s (and apparently my dad had hundreds) that were put out with the trash when he joined the navy...he always said that (at the time) no one considered comics to be of any worth. Ah well...

Jim McClain said...

The reason these books are so expensive now is because of all the paper drives, the parent groups, etc. destroying most of the existing copies of these key issues. That's why I was able to buy 200 X-Men #1E by Jim Lee for $0.10 each a couple of weeks ago. No one was throwing them away!