An Amazing Price for Amazing Fantasy 15

Amazing Fantasy 15 CGC 9.6 Copy

$1.1 million would buy Peter Parker a lot of web fluid, and maybe even leave some money left for a decent apartment.  But in the “real” world, $1.1 million is the new going rate for a mint condition version of Spider-man’s first appearance.  According to Stephen Fischler, CEO of ComicConnect.com, a private buyer purchased the CGG 9.6 copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 for $1.1 million this week in a private transaction.

 
To say this was a notable transaction would be an understatement. While not the most expensive comic book ever sold, it now holds a number of important records:
 
 Only the third comic book to fetch more than $1 million (two copies of Action Comics #1 and a copy of Detective Comics #27 have also done so)
 Most expensive Marvel comic book
 Most expensive Silver Age comic book
 
How rare is this comic?
For many comic book fans, this kind of news almost fails to register, because the numbers seem so astronomical.  In the last few days I’ve had lots of friends ask, “Who BUYS these things?”  Now the obvious answer is, “very wealthy people.” But let’s try to delve a little deeper into the abyss.
 
One of the reasons Action Comics #1 and Detective #27 are considered so valuable is their scarcity.  It’s not simply that they are the first appearances of Superman and Batman, but also that when these comics were coming out in 1938 and 1939, respectively, NO ONE thought about preserving them for any future value.  70+ years of human history is a long time to expect a paper periodical to survive unscathed.  
 
But Amazing Fantasy #15 was published in 1962, in the middle of the Silver Age when comics were not only wildly popular, but the idea of preserving the books for posterity was less rare. It still was long before the days of bagging and boarding we all grew up with, but it’s not considered as scarce an issue to find.
 
So how did a comic book, 24 years older than Action #1, and less rare, fetch north of $1 million?  Because of the CONDITION.  This copy had a CGC grade of 9.6 Universal. It was a near mint book, almost as though it was fresh off the shelves.  According to the CGS Census registry this copy is the highest graded known copy in existence.  The CGC Census shows 15 copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 with a grade of 9 (Very Fine/Near Mint) or higher; and 57 copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 with a grade of 7.5 (Very Fine – ) or higher.  
 
From CGC Website: “People have often wondered how much this near-perfect condition book would sell for, and today we found out,” explains Fishler. “There are very few books and characters that can dictate this kind of price and Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15 is one of them,” Fishler remarks. ComicConnect.com partner Vincent Zurzolo says, “The buyer of this amazing comic wanted to own the very best. The Amazing Fantasy #15 – 9.6 is the definition of the very best.”
 
By comparison, the Action Comics #1 copies that sold for north of $1 million were graded Very Fine (8.0 and 8.5) and there are NO known copies at 9.0 or higher. Detective #27 is in a similar boat, with only 2  Very Fine (8.0) copies known to exist.  The point being, a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 in the 7.5 to 8.0 range will still fetch significantly less than its golden age counterparts, and by the same token, if some collector secretly has a mint copy of Action #1 or Detective #27 hidden away ready for sale, it would likely garner significantly more than the record $1.5 million.
 
What this means 
Water Lillies MonetFor the vast majority of those reading this article, this sale doesn’t amount to much.  Ultimately these are rarified collectibles whose only “value” is whatever a person is willing to pay for them.  For the same reason someone was willing to pay 41 million pounds for one of Monet’s Water Lilies a few years ago, or why Todd McFarlane was willing to pay seven figures for a baseball, super rare, high end collectibles are generally never going to reflect the realities of the broader economy.  No matter what’s happening to the average world citizen, there are always uber wealthy people with more money than they can ever spend.
 
Now from a trend perspective, if you happen to collect high grade back issues, this IS a significant announcement because it ushers in a potential major leap forward in the value of Silver Age comics. If you think about it, many of the people who grew up reading Silver Age comics (and the first rash of true Marvel zombies), are now at points in their lives where they’ve attained a certain maturity and economic status.  While there aren’t that many millionaires in the world, there are a lot more 40+ year old millionaires than there are teen millionaires.  So just as the Golden Age comics were the stuff of legend for a generation of readers, now those who grew up on Silver Age books are attaining a level of financial wealth that allows them to pay whatever prices they deem reasonable for their childhood heroes.
 

Jason is a mutant with the ability to squeeze 36 hours into every 24-hour day, which is why he was able to convince his wife he had time to join the iFanboy team on top of running his business, raising his three sons, and most importantly, co-hosting the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast with his buddies Vince B, Chris Neseman and David Price. If you are one of the twelve people on Earth who want to read about comics, the stock market and football in rapid fire succession, you can follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Andrew Andrew says:

    Wowzers!  I was so disappointed when they told me that the 1 million I offered didn’t cut it.

  2. Spiffy Spiffy says:

    I wonder what my mediocre copy of Amazing Spider-man #1 would go for…

  3. My shop has a reprint of this and are selling it for $2.

    So yeah that guy really overpaid… 

  4. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @TheNextChampion  he didn’t overpay at all. He paid a price he thought was fair. When you’re dealing with rare or one-of-a-kind items, that’s all that matters. The only one who really knows if he overpaid is his accountant. :) And if the buyer is who I think it is, he has more than enough in his coffers to buy any comic book he wants without anyone noticing.

  5. @Wood: It was a joke on how you could buy this issue for che…..Never mind.

  6. stuclach stuclach says:

    I wonder how much of this is investment and how much of it is passion?

  7. i trade waited on this series. Shoulda got it in issues! oh yeah i wasn’t alive yet. Maybe i’ll swing by the goodwill on the way home and see if i can win the lottery with a find. =)

  8. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @stuclach  for the buyer? 99.9% (or more) passion. No one spends $1.1 million on a comic book because they think it’ll make them money. Now that said, high end collectibles have almost always gone up in value over time, so ultimately it may be worth much more.

  9. stuclach stuclach says:

    @Wood  That’s what I expected.  

    I’m not sure I’d say “no one spends 1.1 on a comic book because they think it’ll make money”.  I’d probably say no one SHOULD spend 1.1….

  10. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @stuclach Fair enough, there are no absolutes. But I know a number of high end art collectors (fine art), as well as quite a few high end comic book collectors, and the majority of them (if not all of the ones I know personally) never purchase something because they think it will make them money. They pay what they think they have to, to acquire something they covet.

  11. @Wood — i totally agree with you on that. From everything i’ve read about art collectors they always talk about the love of the work first and foremost. If you love abstract expressionism, you usually don’t invest in impressionism if its not your passion. 

    Someone who buys this not only has the means, they also much truely love comics and spiderman to justify it to themselves. That being said, this kind of thing will prob only appreciate in value. 

  12. Christopher Christopher says:

    While my purchases of key Silver-Age back issues are definitely based on my passion for the particular issue or the series, news like this is a nice silver lining for some collectors — I’m glad I decided years ago to hold out for copies at the higher end of the condition scale.  I agree with Wood here - the context is everything with this news. 

  13. BBretall BBretall says:

    I’m the exact opposite, since I collect down around VG – F conditions.   There has been such an explosion of high-end collectors who would not dirty themselves on a VG book, it makes those VG books, even keys like Amazing Spider-Man #1 way more affordable for “regular” collectors who want the books, but are not looking a them as investments for their retirement.  I’ve gotten other keys like Showcase #22 & Brave & Bold #28 in VG 4.0 – 4.5 condition very cheap.  In fact I have gotten CGC’d books in $.0 – 5.0 for half guide since the CGC collectors market mostly focuses on the higher grade stuff.

  14. stuclach stuclach says:

    @Wood  Makes sense.

  15. Wolfdog Wolfdog says:

    Has anyone seen what early silver age original pages go for these days? If I had that kind of scratch, that would be my itch.

    I still can’t bring myself to slab my Avengers #4. I occasionally like to look at it’s innards.

  16. @Wolfdog  –if it makes you feel any better, i was talking to a guy who specializes in art on paper who had some opinions on why slabbing is bad He and several others in his community have a theory that slabbing your comics will actually cause them to disintegrate faster. Paper needs to breathe and be kept in optimal temperatures to stay archival. Encasing it in plastic may cause it to turn to dust. =)