Friday, September 13, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection - Part 2

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Are There Any "Key" Books In The Collection?
Or "When The Older Is Better" Rule Just Doesn't Work!

Key comic books are milestones in a comic book title or milestones in the whole culture of comics. Usually, a key comic book contains the first appearance of a character, the death of a character, the first comic book work of a particular artist, the first comic book written by a particular writer or a just a major event in the comic book world. You may have read about the Action Comics #1 that sold for a record $2,161,000.00 (that's right - OVER $2 Million) or the Detective Comics #27 that sold for $1,075,000.00. The reasons is that a) they were the very first appearances of Superman and Batman respectively and b) they were is high grade - or very fine condition (there's that "condition" thing again - be patient, we will explain everything).

Key books toss the "the older is better" rule of thumb out the window. Here's an example: Action Comics #69 is a nice old book from 1944 and in Near Mint minus condition, the value of that book is $2200.00 - Not bad at all. But Amazing Fantasy #15 (at right) published in 1961 has a value of $175,000 in Near Mint minus condition!

But the Action Comics #67 is 17 years OLDER than the Amazing Fantasy #15 so why the huge price discrepancy? Because Amazing Fantasy #15 is the very first appearance of The Amazing Spider-Man. It is one of the most "key" books in all of comic lore and is intensely sought out by collectors. If you have one of these babies in your collection, you need to really take your time in selling the collection. Again, Action Comics #67 is a nice old book but there is nothing "key" about it.

I know, I know - you want to get to the part where you get all the info about how to sell your comic book collection - well, you ARE starting to get that information now as it is SO important to know what you have - and knowing what you have means knowing how to value a comic book collection. If you don't have a clue as to what you have, then you are starting out behind when it comes to negotiating a price for your collection. So if you want top dollar for your collection, you need to keep trudging on and "delve into the weeds" - i.e. the details.

Condition Is King!
Or My Kingdom For A Comic Book With No Flaws!

If you have two identical books - say you have TWO Amazing Fantasy #15 copies (lucky stiff!). Well, they should both be worth the same, right? Not necessarily. The condition of the book(s) is critical to determining the value. Assessing the condition of a comic book is called grading a comic book. You can go purchase a copy of The Official Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide and get a thorough education on grading comic books or you can Google and come up with a ton of links about grading comic books - here's one at Nostalgia Zone that is brief and gets to the point.

Basically, here is the 10 point scale for grading comics:

10.0 -- GEM MINT
9.9 -- Mint
9.8 -- Near Mint / Mint
9.6 -- Near Mint +
9.4 -- Near Mint
9.2 -- Near Mint -
9.0 -- Very Fine / Near Mint
8.5 -- Very Fine +
8.0 -- Very Fine
7.5 -- Very Fine -
7.0 -- Fine / Very Fine
6.5 -- Fine +
6.0 -- Fine
5.5 -- Fine -
5.0 -- Very Good / Fine
4.5 -- Very Good +
4.0 -- Very Good
3.5 -- Very Good -
3.0 -- Good / Very Good
2.5 -- Good +
2.0 -- Good
1.8 -- Good Minus
1.5 -- Fair / Good
1.0 -- Fair
0.5 -- Poor

Obviously, the higher the grade, the higher the condition of the book. So let's say that one of our Amazing Fantasy #15's is Very Fine (8.0) and one of them is Very Good (4.0). If we go to our trusty Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and look up the values of the books, the Very Fine (8.0) copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 goes for $56,000.00 and the Very Good (4.0) copy of the book goes for $7400.00 - that is a huge price difference and the ONLY reason for that difference is the relative condition of the two books.

A Very Fine (8.0) book might have a few very small stress lines on the spine and maybe a micro-tiny crease at the corner of the book while a Very Good (4.0) book might have numerous spine stress lines and large diagonal creases at the corners - might have some ink wear at the edges of the cover and the staples might show some discoloration.

You do not have to be a grading expert but you do have to have some awareness. If you choose to sell your collection to a comic book dealer, please understand that they will want to buy the collection for the lowest possible price - as well they should. This is their business and there are a lot of hidden costs for dealers - mainly in the time it takes to process a collection so it is ready for sale. They might have to bag and board the whole collection, price it and if they are online dealers, they will have to scan the image and put it up on their website or eBay with a description, etc. It IS a lot of work but that is not your pain - it is the dealer's pain BUT they are taking all of that into consideration when they are trying to come up with an offer for your collection. I am digressing here somewhat but the point to these first three articles is to help you, the person that wants to sell your collection gain some awareness of how comic collections are valued - especially those of you who are NOT comic book collectors.

Now as an aside (and more digressing), I have edited this blog article because I previously said that ALL comic book dealers will try to downgrade your collection - that is simply not true and to all the honest dealers out there I do apologize. But comic dealers are human beings and some of them will sense either consciously or subconsciously how much awareness you have and deal with you accordingly. I will discuss negotiating with comic book dealers in more depth in Part 4 of this series.

Oh by the way - the image of the X-Men #95 that is encapsulated in a plastic holder to the right? Well that is a book that is 3rd party graded much like coins, stamps and baseball cards are third party graded. The absolute #1 3rd party grader is CGC - i.e. Certified Guaranty Company, LLC. Dealers and collectors send their books to CGC and they are evaluated and - for a fee of course - graded, encapsulated and shipped back to the owner. We won't get into that at all but if you do have CGC comic books in your collection, there is a site where you can see the value of CGC graded comics and that is - they have a history of every CGC book that has been sold from a variety of venues such as eBay, Heritage Auctions, etc. and you can get a very good idea of what some of your CGC books are worth. Usually - but not always - CGC books in high grade - 8.0 and above - will sell for more than a book in the same grade that is NOT CGC graded. Let that sink in for a little while....

So now you know that condition is king - two of the same books but in different grades (i.e. condition) will sell for different prices - it is that simple.

We have one more part to go until we start talking about HOW to sell those doggone comic books and that part will cover marketplace demand and how the sheer number of books in the collection can affect the value of your collection - that is Part 3 of "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection"...

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