The Best Comic Books Ever. For Sale.
This week, Unfair Park's favorite across-the-street neighbor--and recent Dallas Observer cover story subject Heritage Auction Galleries--sold a $100 bill for $2.1 million (hell, I got a nickel I'll sell you for seven cents). Of course, it was no ordinary hundy: It was a 1863-series gold certificate signed December 13, 1866, that was part of a series of currency the Union issued to help finance the Civil War. But, still, that's a lot of new money to spend on old money. But that's not what has us (fine, me) excited: This week, Heritage announced that it stumbled across perhaps the finest collection of Golden Age comic books ever assembled, and that the auction house will be selling them beginning in August. Which means one of the more than 11,000 comics collected from 1938 to 1954 by the previously unknown Davis Crippen could be yours for the right price, among them 1943's All Select Comics No. 1, featuring Captain America and the Human Torch, and Suspense Comics No. 3 , which is notable for its Nazi-nasty bondage cover by Alex Schomburg.
According to this piece from Heritage's newsletter, the collection was discovered in the garage of a 19th-century house just outside New York City and consists largely of books Crippen bought but never read, begining with he was just 8 years old and living in Washington, D.C. Some of Crippen's comics were well-known among collectors, but only as the "D Copy" books for reasons to obscure to get into here. Nonetheless, after Crippen died in 2005, his son inventoried the stash, which his old man wisely kept boxed and bagged and well protected, and called Heritage to find out if it would sell the whole lot for what's likely to be a whole lot.
"It's the biggest thing to hit the comics collecting world since the Mile High Collection," says Heritage's John Petty, referring to the 1977 discovery of a closet full of 1940s and '50s comics. "These will hit the market as the finest-known copies of these issues. Crippen decided he was going to acquire one copy of every comic that came out, so the breadth and scope of this collection is amazing. We'll see what its impact will be, but the few books that got out ahead of the rest as the 'D Copy' collection set the world on its ear for their quality. It's just exciting to know for a fact there still are great collections out there that haven't been tapped yet. Everyone's under the impression all the good collections are gone, and obviously they aren't."
Heritage will begin auction off part of the Crippen collection August 10-12 during one of its Signature auctions at its Oak Lawn offices. During that same sale, Heritage is making available an astounding selection of original Charles Schultz Peanuts artwork, including a daily newspaper strip from 1951. So you got, like, two months to start saving your pennies. Me, I have my eye on this. And this. And this. Can I borrow a couple of bucks? --Robert Wilonsky