August 4, 2016: Heritage Auctions Lists 5.5 Grade “Action Comics #1”

ActionComics1-55Heritage Auctions has listed a 1938 copy of Action Comics #1 with a CGC grading of FN- 5.5 with cream to off-white pages to be sold at auction starting today.

It’s the holy grail of comic collecting, and we’ve never auctioned a higher-graded, unrestored copy! In the nearly 15 years since our first auction, we’ve offered a total of 18 complete copies of the iconic issue, but only nine of those had earned the CGC blue Universal label awarded to an unrestored copy. Besides its unquestioned rating as the most important comic book ever published, its rarity adds to the allure. According to CGC’s census, just 37 copies have been certified with a blue label, and only eight of those graded higher than this one. The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books rates it a “7” or “scarce” on its scarcity index.

The first appearance of Superman is also considered the first superhero comic, and while the first appearance of Batman (Detective Comics #27) and the first Timely/Marvel comic (Marvel Comics #1) have their ardent fans, there is no real question among Golden Age collectors which issue is the most important. Silver Age fans point to other latter-day superheroes, but all superheroes owe their popularity, if not existence, to the coming of Superman.

The colors on the cover of this copy are particularly bright, and the staples are rust free. If it weren’t for the spine split at the bottom (about 1-1/2″ inches), the book would no doubt grade higher. It has a slight 1″ or so crease in the top right corner of the book, near the “N” in “Action.” There’s a little pencil scribble in the top left, underneath the “No. 1,” and a little edge damage at the top left corner of the book. There are some minor color breaks due to creases at the top right corner of the book. Page quality on the interior is Cream to Off-White. All of these are minor flaws when you take the book as a whole, and it really “pops” in the new CGC holder. It’s a striking copy that absolutely “wows” when you hold it in your hand.

This copy was previously certified Apparent 7.5 by CGC, with tear seals being the only restoration noted. The tears at the top and bottom of the spine had been sealed using an archival quality glue, which bonded to the spine without degrading the integrity of the paper. The book was recently submitted to Classic Collectible Services (CCS), who were able to safely remove the glue, returning the book to its former state.

Matt Nelson, Primary Grader of CGC, commented: “Having seen many Action #1’s over the years, I am deeply impressed with this copy’s eye appeal.The book presents as a considerably higher grade than 5.5, lacking the usual fading, staining or creasing commonly seen on mid grade copies. White and bright, this Action #1 is one of the best looking among the remarkably rare pool of unrestored copies in the world.”

It’s currently rated the most valuable comic of all by The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide – by far, and the margin between it and the next most valuable comic books is widening. Overstreet 2016 FN 6.0 value = $510,000. CGC census 8/16: 2 in 5.5, 8 higher.

Update: The comic book sold for US$956,000.