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91001

Action Comics #1-24 Bound Volumes (DC, 1938-40).... (Total: 2 Items)

2010 May Signature Comics & Comic Art Auction #7021

 
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Auction Ended On: May 20, 2010
Item Activity: 18 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location:

Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

Description:
Action Comics #1-24 Bound Volumes (DC, 1938-40). Surely the most desirable bound comic volumes in existence, these stand out not only because of which comics are inside but because of their condition!

Even to the seasoned collector, the condition of these comics will come as a major surprise. The edges tend to have a bit of page darkening, since they are obviously more exposed than the page interiors which are tightly pressed together. Here, all of the earliest and most valuable issues (#1-12) have consistent page quality right to the edges! And the covers are superbly preserved, with a fresh look matching or exceeding the best individual copies of these issues we had seen to date. While collectors of bound volumes are used to attractive covers, the fact that the inside front and back covers of the most valuable issues also lack any tanning is unexpected, and a very pleasant surprise.

To be clear: the earliest issues in these volumes are in the nicest condition! That could hardly be more significant, since the earliest comic in the group is Action Comics #1, nothing less than the most desirable comic in the hobby. The first appearance of Superman, this issue is the crown jewel of anyone's comic collection. Combine it with sterling copies of all of the tough early issues in one book, and you've got the closest comic equivalent to a Gutenberg bible!

Consider the challenge of trying to assemble this run by pursuing individual copies with comparable eye appeal. A Very Fine #1 recently sold for one million dollars, and a Very Fine #7 sold for more than $140,000 not long ago. Even if the expense were no factor; issues such as 2, 5, 8, 10, and 13 are almost never offered for sale, and holding out for bright copies of these with excellent eye appeal could be dismissed as simply unrealistic.

Not only is Action Comics #1 the most famous comic book of all as well as the most valuable, issue #7 is surely one of the top 10-15 comics in the hobby. Those two are joined by #2-6, 10, and 13 in Overstreet's Top 100 Golden Age Books list; issues #8 and 9 barely missed that list and boast "Top of Guide" values of $18,000.

We have examined these comics closely and can attest that there is no restoration other than what is noted below, which only affects the relatively unimportant #21, 23, and 24.

Even those lucky souls who already own an Action #1 will likely be keen to acquire this lot, as it allows you to enjoy this key book in a completely different way than looking at it in a CGC slab, a "Fortress" holder, etc. The inside cover of #1 is very nice and bright, which as mentioned above is hardly a given, even for bound volumes, since interior page deterioration tends to tan these insides. Most of the comics in these volumes have inside covers that are similarly nice. There is a "3" penciled on the cover of #1 and a very small (5 mm) "H" in pen at upper left that might be hard to see on our photo because it's close to the spine. Other than a couple of "finger dents" to the surface, the cover is perfect, and we can't emphasize enough that the off-white page quality is consistent right to the edge!

A few notes on #2-24:

The cover of #2 has white, light blue, and light green cover areas that tend to get smudged or discolored easily, so this clean copy is a sight to behold!

#3 is a book we had only offered three copies of to date, and we had never seen the yellow cover block this bright and clean. The "H" seen on the cover of #1 also appears here and on #4 and #10. This copy does have a notable defect: the coupon on the inside back cover has been neatly scissored out. The early issues (including #1) all had contests, this one being a Cartoon Contest with twenty-five $1 prizes being awarded. "All entries must be in by Friday, August 5, 1938."

#4 has a 4 ½-inch tear on the back cover. Of course, issues #2-6 did not show Superman (or even mention his name) on the cover, and it's amusing to see that the contest in #4 was to "...pick out the five features you like best in the magazine..." Obviously at the time Superman was not considered the unquestioned star by his publisher.

#5 We had only ever offered two unrestored copies of this issue. The sand on the cover is clean and unsmudged, try finding another copy you can say that about! The beautiful white inside covers are striking on all of the issues from #1-6.

#6 Another book we've only offered two unrestored copies of before.

#7 The second Superman cover appearance and one of the hottest comics in the hobby, trading hands far above the Overstreet value when one is for sale. We had only seen four unrestored copies to date, and that's counting a coverless book. We hadn't ever seen the street look this white before and the yellow building looks bright and amazing.

#8 Is an issue Heritage has never offered a copy of! And CGC has certified just seven unrestored copies. A super-clean front cover.

#10, the third Superman cover, could well be harder to find than #7. Heritage has only offered one unrestored copy graded better than Poor. This is a fresh-looking copy, with no dust shadow on the block of white.

#12, which has Superman appearing in a vignette on the cover, has a lower left corner that has been folded in, obviously taking place before the trimming that was part of the binding process.

#13 is an issue we had only ever seen a coverless copy of. The first issue of the second volume, this is also the first issue of the group to have a tan inside cover (#14-17 have no inside cover tanning). There's a "4" on the cover just like the "3" on #1. It's an amazing sight to open this one up to the centerspread and see a double-page announcing Superman #1!

#15 has a small water spot at the extreme top corner, obviously something that happened prior to binding as the surrounding books were not affected. #17 has an interesting full-page ad for New York World's Fair Comics 1939 explaining the price reduction from 25¢ to 15¢. #18 has a tiny chip out of the outside cover edge, there's a brown spot on the cover and one on the first page. #19 and up have cream page edges. Issue #19 has "15-" penciled on the cover. Neat full-page ads in this issue for Flash Comics #1 and Superman #3! #20 has a water spot at the outside edge of the cover, and a taped spine. #21 has a water spot at top right. There's a piece of tape on the inside front cover, sealing a tear at the edge, and tape along the entire spine. "10-" is penciled on the back cover. #22 has a small, barely noticeable tear at bottom center, and there's a small tear at the spine of the back cover. The price "700" is penciled on the back cover. #23 has tape repair to two major tears, amateur piece replacement of a missing chunk, some amateur color touch, and tape along the entire spine. The price "10-" is on the back cover. #24 has white tape on the spine and "300" written on the front cover. There are a couple of edge tears on the back cover, and the coupon on the inside front cover has been filled out in pencil.

These comics have been trimmed (as is customary) and bound into two orange hardcover volumes. Some of the later comics were obviously acquired as back issues judging by the penciled prices as high as $15 that appear (only) on some later covers. Our best guess is that these were bound in the 1960s, since before the 1960s it's unlikely that asking prices would have been that "high," and since the 1970s brought more publicity for the values of vintage comics it's unlikely that anyone would have bound an Action #1 that late.

The condition of the last few (and least valuable) issues doesn't detract from our enjoyment of the much nicer early books! As is our custom for bound volumes, we'll note the VG guide value as a baseline: Overstreet 2009 VG 4.0 value for group = $147,912.

Having the opportunity to turn the pages of Action Comics #1-24 consecutively while examining the books to write this description was a unique thrill, and we're more than a bit envious that the winning bidder will be able to do so whenever he chooses.

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