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    Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck Extra IX Bound Copy. (Wilson Publishing, 1842). This is the earliest known sequential-art American comic book, therefore the significance is tough to overstate! Published 165 years ago, this rare gem is almost 100 years older than Action Comics #1 and it's a far scarcer item to boot - less than a dozen copies have been confirmed to exist, several of which are owned by institutions and unlikely ever to be made available to collectors.

    Swiss writer/artist Rodolphe Töpffer, considered the inventor of the modern comic strip, originated the work as Les Amours de M. Vieux Bois in the late 1820s. It was pirated in Paris in the 1830s, and the pirated version was subsequently translated into English for British publisher Tilt and Bogue. As Robert Beerbohm noted, "In a world where international copyright conventions did not exist, this was perfectly legal, if morally questionable."

    The printing plates were then shipped over to New York City in 1842, and this edition was produced by the publishers of the newspaper Brother Jonathan, reformatted into what constitutes a modern comic book format as we recognize it today, printed in black and white and bound with string. Staple-binding and color printing weren't options in the 1840s!

    This large volume features the September 3 through December 31, 1842 issues of Brother Jonathan, including the issue that included that historic edition of Obadiah Oldbuck. The contents are complete, and the pages are surprisingly supple (especially for a publication almost two centuries old) with pages ranging from off-white to light tan, with no apparent chipping or brittleness, and no fading to the illustrations. There are some areas of soiling and toning, which is to be expected, but these range from mild to moderate and do not detract significantly from the overall page quality. The binding has been restored and reinforced at some point, and is sturdy and tight, with some writing in pencil and ink to the interior boards. All in all, this is a remarkably well-preserved volume.

    Note that Overstreet's page count of 44 reflects the outer cover that one variant copy reportedly possesses, i.e. this 40-page copy is complete. For an unbound copy, Overstreet 2009 FR 1.0 value = $2,500; GD 2.0 value = $5,000; FN 6.0 = $10,000.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    25th-27th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,586

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