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Action Comics #1 Sells For $3,207,852 on eBay

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Action Comics Issue 1-smallIf you’ve been on eBay at all in the last ten days, you’ve probably seen banner ads for an unusual auction: a copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. Written and drawn by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action #1 was published on April 18, 1938 (cover-dated June) by National Allied Publications, the company that eventually became DC Comics. Although it had a print run of over 200,000, only some 50-100 copies of Action #1 are still known to exist.

The seller, Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Washington, had the comic professionally graded by CGC at a 9.0. Only one other copy has ever achieved a 9.0, and it sold for $2.16 million in 2011. Until yesterday, that was the highest price ever paid for a comic book. Adams didn’t restrain his enthusiasm in the auction description:

For sale here is the single most valuable comic book to ever be offered for sale, and is likely to be the only time ever offered for sale during many of our lifetimes… This is THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is…. the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.

This particular copy is the nicest that has ever been graded, with an ASTONISHING grade of CGC 9.0! To date, no copies have been graded higher and only one other copy has received the same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water. Compared to the other 9.0 that sold for $2.1million several years ago it has significant superior eye appeal, extremely vibrant colors and PERFECT WHITE PAGES.

The auction ended at 6:00 pm Pacific time on Sunday. Bidders had to be pre-qualified and there were a total of 48 bids. The winning bid, placed 32 seconds before the end of the 10-day auction, was made by an unidentified eBay veteran with feedback from over 2,500 sellers. See the eBay auction listing here.

11 Comments »

  1. Sure, John… “unidentified”.

    One more vintage treasure you picked up, I take it…

    Comment by Matthew Wuertz - August 25, 2014 11:41 am

  2. I plead the fifth. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - August 25, 2014 11:46 am

  3. Note that the first bidder was 99 cents.

    That cracks me up!

    Comment by James McGlothlin - August 25, 2014 11:58 am

  4. Whoops, my bad, that was the starting price! The first bidder was one million!

    Comment by James McGlothlin - August 25, 2014 12:00 pm

  5. I am amused to note the statement, “To date, no copies have been graded higher and only one other copy has received the same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water.” If that really is fair to say, it essentially means that CGC ratings are so subjective as to be worthless (except to those who profit from them, of course) and that the whole system is a racket. What a surprise…

    Comment by Thomas Parker - August 25, 2014 3:17 pm

  6. “. . . only one other copy has received the same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water.”

    I took that statement to show that the writer has no idea was “same grade” means.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - August 25, 2014 6:01 pm

  7. lol

    If only Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster could’ve seen some of that dough for beginning “the entire superhero genre.”

    Comment by Nick Ozment - August 26, 2014 12:43 am

  8. I thought exactly the same thing, Nick.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - August 26, 2014 9:08 am

  9. > I am amused to note the statement, “To date, no copies have been graded higher and only one other copy has received the
    > same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water.” If that really is fair to
    > say, it essentially means that CGC ratings are so subjective as to be worthless

    Thomas,

    What you’re seeing here is doubtless a little sales spin. :)

    I’m not a comic grader, but I imagine a grader takes everything into account — stains, page crispness, creases, etc etc. This seller is focusing on the one area his copy his superior (page whiteness) and hyping it as the most important. No harm in that… some people really do view that as the most important and, as they say, caveat emptor!

    As for CGC ratings, they’re obviously not perfect, but the industry has really come to trust them. That doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without at least some rigor in the grading.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 26, 2014 12:28 pm

  10. > I took that statement to show that the writer has no idea was “same grade” means.

    James,

    I thought the same thing at first. But really, the man was trying to sell a $3 million comic book. I don’t begrudge him trying to hype the fact that his pages are whiter than all other copies. :)

    When I buy pulps, page whiteness is a big deal. But I also look for a glossy “new” look on the cover, and a copy that’s free of tears and foxing (brown stains due to iron in the paper rusting). I strongly suspect that other copy of Action #1 is superior in other aspects, and just not as page-white; hence the equivalent 9.0 rating.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 26, 2014 12:33 pm

  11. > If only Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster could’ve seen some of that dough for beginning “the entire superhero genre.”

    All credit to Siegel and Shuster for seeing what no one else did — the public appetite for superheroes in the Depression.

    On the other hand, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster really weren’t very good comic creators (unlike, say, Bob Kane, creator of Batman, who had a real gothic style). Superman didn’t really take off until DC Comics brought in better writers and artists, and carefully nurtured the property through the 40s and 50s.

    Yes, Siegel and Shuster deserved a bigger share of the success of their creation. But I think the real genius of Superman was the way DC quickly grasped the essence of the superhero mythology, and launched a shared universe of larger-than-life heroes that still endures today.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 26, 2014 12:42 pm


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