October 2014 Comic Market Report: Let's Talk About Two Things That Didn't Happen


This month is a little different from previous months as there are no multi-million dollar books to talk about. In fact, this month I'm going to talk about a couple of things that didn't happen.

A Reminder to Do Your Research

It might not look like something that I'd cover here, but the above book sold (briefly) for a crazy record price, so in that way it fits in with my normal theme. I'm not featuring it because of the record though. I'm sharing it because I took part in the auction myself and the result was so weird I just had to share.

Since my Daredevil collection is getting near the finish line and I have fewer books even available to buy on that front, I'm looking more and more at other books from the 1970s and 1980s (mostly) that might be fun to own. In a recent Heritage auction I spotted the above Sherlock Holmes comic and thought that it fit the bill. I love the cover, I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes and it's cheap. The average in GPA was around $30 for a 9.4. I actually bid above GPA, just to get ensure I get the book. Everything was lined up, except… I got blown away.

The book sold for $388.

9.8s of this book sell for 1/3 that. Why would this one sell for so much more? Something crazy had clearly happened. What exactly is an interesting convergence of three different people making errors:

  1. I don't have a screen shot, but Heritage mistakenly listed the Overstreet NM price as $526. It's actually $30.
  2. Bidder A (working off the incorrect Overstreet price?) put in a massive bid.
  3. Bidder B (also working off the incorrect Overstreet price?) pushed the bidding up to $326 ($388 with BP).

The first error is obvious. The Heritage employee put the wrong value into the auction listing. The second and third error are also obvious, but weird since two people had to make the exact same mistake on a relatively obscure book. Both of these bidders looked at the Overstreet value and no other data to decide that they had a potential bargain on their hands. Which is nuts because Heritage provides both previous auction results (none of which showed anything even approaching $50) and a link to GPA (which showed the same) on the page. So, both of these guys saw the one piece of incorrect data and without backing it up with alternative data (on the same page!) decided to dive in and bid the farm on a book. Which, to me, is just plain weird.

Heritage has since listed the book as "not sold" and corrected the listing error with the correct Overstreet value. In the end, then, the only person who was hurt was me, since I don't have the book…

Still it's a lesson to all of us – the more information you have, the safer you'll be with your money. If the error hadn't been spotted and Heritage wasn't forgiving then someone would be sitting on a book they'd have to wait 20 years to recoup their money on. No one wants that.

No, There is no Fantastic Four #1 CGC 9.8 Signature Series (but there are two blue label 9.6s)

A Fantastic Four #1 CGC 9.8 Signature Series just appeared on the census. After some digging it was discovered that it was actually a Golden Record Reprint incorrectly added to the census and not the finest copy of one of the most important comic books of all time.

The discussion on the CGC forum was, as you would imagine, interesting. I personally was a bit freaked out- so freaked out that I decided early on that it couldn't possibly be real. Thankfully I was right on that count. While I acknowledge that people can do what they want with the books that they own, the idea of getting what would be the finest Silver Age book in existence signed makes me a little nauseous.

For starters, I personally believe that vintage high-grade and pedigree examples shouldn't be put through the Signature Series program at all. Again, people can do what they want, but I look at books like that and think they're just fine as-is. Something that's unique doesn't need to be made more unique. If a book made it through 50 years unscathed taking a magic marker to it just seems wrong to me. Some people on the CGC forum took issue with this idea (which isn't just mine, but one that's shared by many other collectors.) As I said on the forum, condition is one of the fundamental factors that drives the hobby. Some combination of story, art, character and history create comics that people want to own and then condition sets the value for individual copies. More than that, most obviously from the discovery of the Edgar Church collection onward and especially in the CGC era, intense interest and large sums of money have been lavished on the "best of the best" condition comics. Pretending that there's no difference between a Fantastic Four #1 CGC 4.5 and what would be the highest graded copy is ignoring long-established market reality. High grade copies are treated differently than lower grade copies. Whether or not that's a "good" thing is what's open for debate. The actual behavior of the market (high grade copies being treated differently with more hype and much larger values) is not. That's just the way it is and there are decades of hobby behavior to back that up.

Secondly, to my mind, getting an FF #1 9.8 signed would kill the value. This ties in neatly with the first point about condition, of course. I'd estimate a true 9.8 to be the most valuable Silver Age book in existence and I'd value it at around $1,250,000 to $1,500,000. I have no clue about a Signature Series copy, but from what I know about the high-grade Silver Age market (including buying books for my own collection) I can't imagine that any of the usual suspects would be as interested in it with a yellow label. In a blue label, Tom Brulato would be knocking on your door the second he heard about the book. Personally, all things being equal, if I had a choice between, say, a CGC 9.4 Daredevil 7 blue label and a Signature Series copy, I'd choose the blue label book.

I've owned some Signature Series books over the years, so I'm happy with the program in general. I just don't like it on a book like this.

One side effect of this discussion is that I just noticed that there are two Fantastic Four #1 9.6s in the census. It's been that way for a couple of years. One of the 9.4s was upgraded to a 9.6 in the August 20, 2012 census. I'm not sure how I missed it, but miss it I did. I'm adding it to the database today, so… better late than never, I guess.

Kudos to them for turning in the 9.4 label, by the way.

That's it for this month. Next month, I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty of stuff from the Heritage Signature auction to talk about so brace yourselves for another round of high dollar discussion

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