Heritage Comics Auction Takes $3.7 million

With the $600,000+ Chicorel Collection backing it up, the finest known copy of Showcase #4 – the comic that started the Silver Age – realized its rightful place as the most valuable 1950s comic book when it sold for $179,250 as part of Heritage Auction Galleries May 21-23 Signature Comics & Comics Art Auction. The previous record for a ’50s comic book was $160,200 for another copy of the same title.

The record for price realized on an Underground comic book also didn’t stand a chance when bidding started for an exceedingly rare first printing of Zap #1. Devotees of these scarce counterculture classics have more than shown their willingness to spend for the most important examples, and the $13,145 realized for this issue obliterated the previous record for an Underground comic.

The Golden Age comic book collection of Ralph Chicorel, as mentioned above, lived up to its potential when the more than 150 comic books from the grouping realized more than $620,000 total. The single-owner collection, loyally bought off the news stands in the 1940s, and stored for almost 70 years, contributed three of the Top 10 lots of the auction.

The crown jewel of the Chicorel collection, a copy of Marvel Mystery Comics #9 (Timely, 1940) CGC NM 9.4 – the only copy of #9 certified with a grade above 9.0 by CGC to date – realized $107,550. This comic is one of Overstreet’s Top 30 Golden Age books, prized not only for its scarcity but also because of the significance of the Human Torch versus Sub-Mariner battle shown on the cover.

Chicorel’s Batman #1 (DC, 1940) CGC FN/VF 7.0 showed its desirability and pedigree when it brought $98,500, and his copy of Marvel Comics #1 (Timely, 1939) CGC FN/VF 7.0 realized $83,650.

“Ralph took such great care of his comics,” said Sandoval, “and this collection will stand as one of the best we have ever offered. His books averaged more than $5,500 per lot, that’s a higher average than the famous Nicolas Cage comic collection. We’re also proud to note that six other sellers had totals of at least $100,000 in this auction.”

Original illustration art showed its continued strength as well.

Curt Swan’s original cover art for Superman #180 brought $39,435.
This is one of 28 lots from the recently acquired Charles Martignette estate. These are the first Martignette items to be sold at auction at Heritage and, as a group, they realized just about two-and-a-half times pre-auction estimates, all of which points to what an amazing eye Martignette had.

“Swan defined the look of Superman for an entire generation,” said Sandoval, “and Swan covers earlier than this one are impossible to find if they survive at all.”

An all-out Jack Kirby action page brought $22,705.

“Kirby is the King of the Comics,” said Sandoval, “and his art was never better than when inked by Joe Sinnott, as this piece was.”

Meanwhile, a page of Daredevil original art by Frank Miller brought an impressive $17,925 total. “We did expect this to sell for thousands of dollars,” said Sandoval, “but the winning bid was a surprise even to us.”

The record price for a Modern Age (1980-and-later) comic book was beaten by two separate comics in the Heritage event. A 10.0 Gem Mint copy of Wolverine #1 realized $15,535 and the only CGC 9.9 copy of X-Men #141, another key issue, brought $11,950, both superb prices on these finest-preserved copies of these otherwise common books.

Further highlights of the auction include, but are not limited to:

The Incredible Hulk #181 (Marvel, 1974) CGC NM/MT 9.8:
The last time Heritage offered this Bronze Age key of keys in this grade some – some six years ago – it sold for $17,825. This copy also has the added bonus of the “white pages” certification. It marks the first full appearance of Wolverine and seems to have cemented its status as the highest-demand 1970s comic book. “Wolvie” just named the greatest comic character of all time by Wizard magazine – and being the star of a solo movie – has only boosted his popularity even further.
Realized: $26,290

“This is our new company record for a 1970s book,” said Sandoval, “smashing the previous mark by more than $8,000.”

Captain America Comics #1 (Timely, 1941) CGC VF+ 8.5:
One of the best-known and most beloved comic books of all time, this copy is near the top of CGC’s census and is ranked among the 10 most valuable comics by Overstreet, with Marvel Comics #1 the only Timely/Marvel ranked higher.
Realized: $95,600.

Detective Comics #27 (DC, 1939) CGC FR/GD 1.5:
This comic presented a jaw-dropping opportunity to an erudite collector as attractive, unrestored original-owner copies of Batman’s first appearance almost never present themselves. This copy had never been offered for public sale before, and hailed from the same collection that produced the Detective #30 and the Action #7 in this same auction. This monumental comic book issue is #2 on Overstreet’s Top 100 Golden Age Books list.
Realized: $83,650.

“Surely a record for a comic graded this low,” said Sandoval “But collectors recognized the appeal. This is another book that we thought would do quite well that actually surpassed our expectations.”

For more information on this auction, to read detailed lot descriptions for these, and all other lots, and to download fully-enlargeable color images, go online to www.HA.com/7007, or contact Barry Sandoval at 800-872-6467, ext. 1377, or via email at [email protected]

To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Client Services at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1150, or visit www.HA.com/Catalog to order by email.

Heritage Auction Galleries is the world’s third largest auction house, and by far the largest auctioneer of rare collectibles, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 425,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.

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