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How Much Are Old Comic Books Worth?
By Tucker Cummings
OverviewFiguring out what your collection of old comic books is worth is a complicated matter. Depending on which titles you own, how old the issues are, which printing you've obtained and what condition the books are in, the value of your collection could range from pennies to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Grading/ConditionThere are two common ways a comic book is graded. The condition of the book can be assessed using a numerical scale that ranges from 10.0 to .5, with 10.0 being a perfect, flawless copy. This numbered method is used by graders such as CGC (see References). Another popular method is the less-precise qualitative grading method, where books are given grades such as Mint, Near Mint, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.
Mint comics are typically unread and have sharp, clean corners without any tears, rips, stains, folds or watermarks. Near-mint comics look like a comic you would buy brand-new at a store. A comic in Fine condition may have a rolled spine, blunt corners, creases or yellowing pages and is usually considered to be around a 7.0-5.0 in the numerical scale. At the bottom of the scale is Poor, where the comic may have major tears, stains, marks or even missing pages.
CGC GradingThe value of your comics will increase if you have it independently certified by CGC. However, this can be expensive, so it is necessary to do this only with older, rare and valuable issues.
Where to Sell Old Comics for Maximum ProfitThe value of a comic book is very flexible. One week, you might see a certain Golden Age comic book sell for a few hundred dollars. Six months later, the value may double... or then again, the value might plummet. The value of a comic depends on the buyer as well as the market. eBay is an excellent source to watch fluctuations in price. Both eBay and comic conventions are the best place to sell old comic books.
Every convention is visited by various levels of comic book collectors. Some conventioneers are looking only for very rare books, while others are just looking for a cheap back issue for sentimental reasons. If you have enough stock, you can set up a booth in the dealer's room. You will need to register with the convention in order to work as a dealer. If you are just getting started, you can bring a few of your most valuable issues and see if any dealers will buy or trade with you. It is important to note that other factors, such as a release of a movie tied to the comic book, can jack up the price of back issues of that comic.
Popular TitlesAlthough there are collectors who have a penchant for Disney comics, Archie comics or vintage girls romance comics, the titles that tend to be worth a great deal of money and be in high demand are superhero books. Titles such as "Batman," "Superman," "X-Men," "Spider-Man," "Captain America" and "The Avengers" are likely to continue to increase in value over the years.
Storing Comics to Increase ValueTo ensure that the old comics you own do not decrease in value, you should store them in a clean, dry, climate-controlled place. Ideally, comics should be bagged (in specially sized plastic bags) and boarded with acid-free cardboard ("boards") and stored in a box designed to hold comics. It is important to buy bags that are the correct size. Over the years, the dimension of comics have changed. Storing a Golden Age comic in a modern bag sleeve can warp and damage the comic. Try to minimize the amount of handling and reading of the comic books if you collect them only to sell them.
Tools to Find the Value of an Old ComicTwo of the best tools for valuing a comic book are the Overstreet Price Guide and ComicsPriceGuide.com. Also see "Comics Buyer's Guide" magazine and its annually updated huge price guide book.