Key Comics as Collectible History, e.g. Gatsby 1st Edition, Napoleon's Letters
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Posted (edited)

First editions of literary masterpieces such as The Great Gatsby will always have value (we're nearing a century since its publication). https://www.biblio.com/the-great-gatsby-by-fitzgerald-f-scott/work/246

So will Napoleon's letters (200+ years have passed since his death).  https://www.raabcollection.com/foreign-figures-autographs/napoleon-bonaparte-autograph

As long as the cultural machine aka entertainment industry churns on + continues to adapt well to the times, I see key comics faring essentially the same.  Think Spidey or Batman is less embedded in our culture relative to Fitzgerald or Bonaparte?  And with the benefit of a more liquid, lower entry barrier market (depending on the key).

History, folks.  That said, always nice to have doomsayers selling for doomsaying reasons, because it ain't fun if everyone only holds.  Open to discussion !

Edited by exitmusicblue

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P.S. Another thing I appreciate about the industry powers that be expanding their scope to lesser known characters in film and other entertainment -- widening the gamut of those who'll stick in history.

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Spider-Man and Batman are deeply embedded in our culture. Are they literature master pieces? Maybe, maybe not depending on who you ask. They have been a major part of my life since I was a little kid. They have been there for me in good times and bad. Maybe more pop culture more than “literature” but very important to me none the less. Time will tell.

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2 hours ago, exitmusicblue said:

First editions of literary masterpieces such as The Great Gatsby will always have value (we're nearing a century since its publication). https://www.biblio.com/the-great-gatsby-by-fitzgerald-f-scott/work/246

So will Napoleon's letters (200+ years have passed since his death).  https://www.raabcollection.com/foreign-figures-autographs/napoleon-bonaparte-autograph

As long as the cultural machine aka entertainment churn on + continue to adapt well to the times, I see key comics faring essentially the same.  Think Spidey or Batman is less embedded in our culture relative to Fitzgerald or Bonaparte?  And with the benefit of a more liquid, lower entry barrier market (depending on the key).

History, folks.  That said, always nice to have doomsayers selling for doomsaying reasons, because it ain't fun if everyone only holds.  Open to discussion !

It's a bit hard to compare these things, however.  Napoleon letters are unique items, and most are I suspect tied up in museums.  Rare books are actually in pretty serious decline value-wise.  Yes, Great Gatsby keeps climbing... but as each generation reads less, especially in regards to "the classics", I don't think its position in the literary pantheon will impress them.  Right now Gatsby is so expensive (in original DJ anyway) because it is quite rare.  It takes a relatively small number of collectors with deep pockets to maintain its value.  Something like Hulk 181, however, is plentiful.  Right now, however, there are plenty who want it, so value is high.  In several generations, when only a small number of people recognize the character, will those thousands of copies still hold value?  The 1st appearances of Batman and Superman are not only very highly in demand, but also scarce.  A perfect combination.  But as digital replaces physical copies, and each new generation seems to care less about history, I'm not sure even a Gatsby will "always" have value.

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3 hours ago, exitmusicblue said:

As long as the cultural machine aka entertainment churn on + continue to adapt well to the times, I see key comics faring essentially the same.  Think Spidey or Batman is less embedded in our culture relative to Fitzgerald or Bonaparte?  And with the benefit of a more liquid, lower entry barrier market (depending on the key).

International market for USA pop culture being created and sustained by Marvel, DC, Star Wars/Disney movies and streaming TV series (with English sub-titles). Lots of $1 'True Believers' Marvel semi-key and key issues being reprinted as a jumping on point for potentially new reader/collectors:

P58ENDS.jpg

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Bookery said:

Rare books are actually in pretty serious decline value-wise.  Yes, Great Gatsby keeps climbing... but as each generation reads less, especially in regards to "the classics", I don't think its position in the literary pantheon will impress them.  Right now Gatsby is so expensive (in original DJ anyway) because it is quite rare.  It takes a relatively small number of collectors with deep pockets to maintain its value.  Something like Hulk 181, however, is plentiful.  Right now, however, there are plenty who want it, so value is high.  In several generations, when only a small number of people recognize the character, will those thousands of copies still hold value?  The 1st appearances of Batman and Superman are not only very highly in demand, but also scarce.  A perfect combination.  But as digital replaces physical copies, and each new generation seems to care less about history, I'm not sure even a Gatsby will "always" have value.

Action #1, 'Tec #27, AF #15 and probably some other comics have all surpassed The Great Gatsby in price a long time ago, while there are many other comics which have far surpassed the value of every other rare book that isn't The Great Gatsby from the past 150 years. Anyone who thinks quality vintage comics are somehow cheap, undiscovered or undervalued in 2019 is utterly delusional IMO - the top examples are already among the most expensive books/manuscripts of all-time, while there are many others which are equal to or even (often) greater in value than most of the great/rare/valuable first editions out there. 

Over a long enough timeframe, say, 30 years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if the overwhelming majority of comic books are worth less than 2019 prices after adjusting for inflation, with quite a few books being worth less than 2019 prices even before adjusting for inflation.  I think what some believe to be a linear trend that can be extrapolated indefinitely is actually just the meaty part of a multi-decade generational cycle that will eventually inflect and enter a prolonged period of secular stagnation and decline.

Far from going from strength to strength from year to year and decade to decade, I see a market where almost every book out there will probably change hands at least once over the next 30-40 years.  Think about it - for certain books, or the broad comics market as a whole, to keep climbing more or less indefinitely like the OP suggests, the next generations will have to clear the market at ever-higher prevailing prices.  This is a virtual mathematical impossibility.  Prices on the good stuff are up so much that their current Baby Boomer and Gen X owners couldn't afford to re-buy their collections at prevailing market prices despite having benefited from not having as much student debt and enjoying higher real wages/wage growth and investment returns than younger generations.  As such, how can the younger generations hope to clear the market at even higher prices?  I think they lack the numbers, the interest and the financial resources - in the aggregate - for this to even be a remotely credible proposition.  

Best case scenario over the multi-decade long-term, IMO, is that whatever money and interest is out there keeps a tiny sliver of the market (the best of the best of the best) elevated, while almost everything else takes a dirtnap.  More likely, though, is that at some point secular stagnation/decline (at least in inflation-adjusted terms) is likely to set in for just about everything, IMO. :sorry: 

Edited by delekkerste

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9 hours ago, delekkerste said:

Action #1, 'Tec #27, AF #15 and probably some other comics have all surpassed The Great Gatsby in price a long time ago, while there are are many other comics which have far surpassed the value of every other rare book that isn't The Great Gatsby from the past 150 years. Anyone who thinks quality vintage comics are somehow cheap, undiscovered or undervalued in 2019 is utterly delusional IMO - the top examples are already among the most expensive books/manuscripts of all-time, while there are many others which are equal to or even (often) greater in value than most of the great/rare/valuable first editions out there. 

Over a long enough timeframe, say, 30 years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if the overwhelming majority of comic books are worth less than 2019 prices after adjusting for inflation, with quite a few books being worth less than 2019 prices even before adjusting for inflation.  I think what some believe to be a linear trend that can be extrapolated indefinitely is actually just the meaty part of a multi-decade generational cycle that will eventually inflect and enter a prolonged period of secular stagnation and decline.

Far from going from strength to strength from year to year and decade to decade, I see a market where almost every book out there will probably change hands at least once over the next 30-40 years.  Think about it - for certain books, or the broad comics market as a whole, to keep climbing more or less indefinitely like the OP suggests, the next generations will have to clear the market at ever-higher prevailing prices.  This is a virtual mathematical impossibility.  Prices on the good stuff are up so much that their current Baby Boomer and Gen X owners couldn't afford to re-buy their collections at prevailing market prices despite having benefited from not having as much student debt and enjoying higher real wages/wage growth and investment returns than younger generations.  As such, how can the younger generations hope to clear the market at even higher prices?  I think they lack the numbers, the interest and the financial resources - in the aggregate - for this to even be a remotely credible proposition.  

Best case scenario over the multi-decade long-term, IMO, is that whatever money and interest is out there keeps a tiny sliver of the market (the best of the best of the best) elevated, while almost everything else takes a dirtnap.  More likely, though, is that at some point secular stagnation/decline (at least in inflation-adjusted terms) is likely to set in for just about everything, IMO. :sorry: 

You are correct... no 1st edition book from the 20th century comes close to what a number of comics have sold for in recent years.  However... that's not really unusual.  Pop culture collectibles, as their name implies, will always have more collectors than literary works that appeal mostly to academia and museums.  (And as someone who's read plenty of both... most "literary" classics are woefully over-rated IMHO... at any rate, the general public has little interest in them).  BUT... the problem with "pop culture" is that it is endlessly changing.  Most things that are popular are such for just a single generation.  A few things transcend this and remain popular for 2 or 3 generations.  Nearly all pop culture collectibles follow a bell-curve in demand and value (though that's not entirely accurate, as on the downside few things fall all the way back to zero... but you get the point).  Sometimes things remain valuable because they are valuable... it just becomes a given.  100 years from now Superman may be as forgotten as Snuffy Smith... but Action #1 might be highly expensive just because it always has been... it becomes a "thing" unto itself in terms of collectibles.  But most things we view as "hot" will assuredly not be considered so by our heirs down the line.

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True. How many people actively collect Howdy Doody, Hopalong Cassidy or apparently now MAD Magazine? Not many. Pop culture is generational and fleeting. As long as movies are being made and characters are in the public eye and relevant, there will be collectors and this stuff will have value. 

Right now it’s hard to believe but there is a world in our future when even Star Wars will probably he irrevelant.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Robot Man said:

True. How many people actively collect Howdy Doody, Hopalong Cassidy or apparently now MAD Magazine? Not many. Pop culture is generational and fleeting. As long as movies are being made and characters are in the public eye and relevant, there will be collectors and this stuff will have value. 

Right now it’s hard to believe but there is a world in our future when even Star Wars will probably he irrevelant.

Remember back when it was shocking if someone hadn't seen Star Wars?  Now, 42 years after the film's initial release, there are more and more people who haven't seen it (as well as other films that were once considered inconceivable for people not have seen).  

It's not difficult to figure out why.  Content has been growing exponentially, far outstripping our collective ability to consume it.  There is a fixed amount of time in a day, while every single day, years' worth of new content is being produced, adding to the existing catalog.  Even accounting for greater accessibility (lower costs, mobility, everything a few clicks away) and people spending more time consuming this content than in the past, there's just no way to keep up with it all, and it gets even worse the younger you are and not having had the time to grow up with things.  

As such, it's simple math that viewership and fanbases have largely become smaller and more fragmented as a result, and that more and more things have finite shelf lives and have been/will fall by the wayside over time.  I'm sure that Star Wars will remain popular over our lifetimes, but, at the margin, I suspect it will get less popular, not more, by the time we all kick the bucket.  When the generations who grew up with it all die off, will the franchise have the grasp on the population that it does now?  I highly doubt it.  Same with those who grew up reading actual comic books - the hobby has never been the same post-1996 (end of the speculator bubble, the Marvel bankruptcy, and an infinite other entertainment options gradually and then suddenly showing up as a result of the revolution in technology, communications and transportation), and when the pre-1996 generations age out...look out below.

Sad to hear about Mad Magazine (I loved it as a kid/teen) closing up shop, but, you could see it coming.  I wouldn't be surprised, given where comic book circulations are nowadays, if a large percentage of comic book titles die off over the next 10-20 years as well - if you've seen the sales figures these days, you wonder how it's even worthwhile to publish most of these titles, except as R&D or marketing expense for the filmed entertainment and merchandising divisions.  And, if/when those areas cool off, and it doesn't make sense to keep publishing so many titles that are only selling 15K or 20K copies a month, surely the number of titles is going to shrink dramatically.  

Personally, I would be wary of holding any pop culture items for financial/investment purposes over the long-run (e.g., "I'll cash out for retirement in 30 years"), as I am highly confident at some point along the way we're going to hit a demographic tipping point, after which the hobby and market values will stop resembling the past we know, and start looking forward to the increasingly dubious long-term supply and demand dynamics (not that this couldn't still be some years away from now, though). 2c 

Edited by delekkerste

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just to argue the other side... 

I think that because of the movies and the ever growing media and entertainment comics specially the rare and Major keys will keep going up in value because we are constantly consuming the ideal or idea of hero's whether they are real, fictional or super. All entertainment evolves around a hero or female hero in some context for form. So we will always be looking at things or remembering things that are associated with a hero. Also our comics are famous they are known across the world thanks to these movies, toys, TV etc... the younger generation is still consuming Batman, Superman, Spiderman, etc... I find they are consuming more super hero content than I was when I was younger as Thor, Green lantern, Deadpool weren't as popular so I think some of the core superhero's will continue for a really really really long time as I can see people coming into comics maybe cause they want to relive nostalgia, they got into the modern market and want to get into the vintage market. But many of you are right and I think the same thing that the market more than likely won't be able to hold these high prices forever on such a variety of comics I can see the marketing holding for Major keys Action 1, Tec 27, AF 15 but the market wont go back down to zero it might decrease to a more affordable price it might even increase as these are books after all and they will deteriorate even with the best protection and some not protecting their books that well I can see more keys going down in value as the condition worsens which could drive up the price for the keys that are well taken care of as it becomes more of a rarity. People buy dinosaur fossils for some crazy prices because of the rarity. We always want something others can't have and some will pay huge $$$ for that. 

:acclaim:

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On 7/4/2019 at 8:51 AM, Robot Man said:

True. How many people actively collect Howdy Doody, Hopalong Cassidy or apparently now MAD Magazine? Not many. Pop culture is generational and fleeting. As long as movies are being made and characters are in the public eye and relevant, there will be collectors and this stuff will have value. 

Right now it’s hard to believe but there is a world in our future when even Star Wars will probably he irrevelant.

If they can keep Mickey Mouse relevant and hot among kids today (see "Forbes article" OA section thread), I have no doubt Star Wars will keep chugging along XX years from now.

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Posted (edited)

For anyone interested in subjecting themselves to more of this, we're having the same discussion over in the Original Art forum as the OP was keen to get the word out about the great opportunity in collectibles and started a thread over there as well. ;) 

Edited by delekkerste

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3 minutes ago, delekkerste said:

For anyone interested in subjecting themselves to more of this, we're having the same discussion over in the Original Art forum as the OP was keen to get the word out about the great opportunity in collectibles and started a thread over there as well. ;) 

I posted a (positive) Forbes article, and it became a cosmos-spanning debate. lol

Got a better idea... let's go enjoy the sun.  The hobby lives on.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/4/2019 at 11:55 AM, delekkerste said:

Remember back when it was shocking if someone hadn't seen Star Wars?  Now, 42 years after the film's initial release, there are more and more people who haven't seen it (as well as other films that were once considered inconceivable for people not have seen).  

It's not difficult to figure out why.  Content has been growing exponentially, far outstripping our collective ability to consume it.  There is a fixed amount of time in a day, while every single day, years' worth of new content is being produced, adding to the existing catalog.  Even accounting for greater accessibility (lower costs, mobility, everything a few clicks away) and people spending more time consuming this content than in the past, there's just no way to keep up with it all, and it gets even worse the younger you are and not having had the time to grow up with things.  

As such, it's simple math that viewership and fanbases have largely become smaller and more fragmented as a result, and that more and more things have finite shelf lives and have been/will fall by the wayside over time.  I'm sure that Star Wars will remain popular over our lifetimes, but, at the margin, I suspect it will get less popular, not more, by the time we all kick the bucket.  When the generations who grew up with it all die off, will the franchise have the grasp on the population that it does now?  I highly doubt it.  Same with those who grew up reading actual comic books - the hobby has never been the same post-1996 (end of the speculator bubble, the Marvel bankruptcy, and an infinite other entertainment options gradually and then suddenly showing up as a result of the revolution in technology, communications and transportation), and when the pre-1996 generations age out...look out below.

Sad to hear about Mad Magazine (I loved it as a kid/teen) closing up shop, but, you could see it coming.  I wouldn't be surprised, given where comic book circulations are nowadays, if a large percentage of comic book titles die off over the next 10-20 years as well - if you've seen the sales figures these days, you wonder how it's even worthwhile to publish most of these titles, except as R&D or marketing expense for the filmed entertainment and merchandising divisions.  And, if/when those areas cool off, and it doesn't make sense to keep publishing so many titles that are only selling 15K or 20K copies a month, surely the number of titles is going to shrink dramatically.  

Personally, I would be wary of holding any pop culture items for financial/investment purposes over the long-run (e.g., "I'll cash out for retirement in 30 years"), as I am highly confident at some point along the way we're going to hit a demographic tipping point, after which the hobby and market values will stop resembling the past we know, and start looking forward to the increasingly dubious long-term supply and demand dynamics (not that this couldn't still be some years away from now, though). 2c 

Did you mention your opinion on the notion of "I'll cash out in 30 years" in regards to the big keys: AC 1, Tec 27, etc? I half read your post and half listened to my wife talk about her friend in prison that witnessed someone getting killed by having a pen shoved in their ear so you may have covered it. Sorry. I'm heading over to OA discussion now.

EDIT: In case no one has brought up the Chinese and/or that Spidey Will Never Die, I'd like to. 

2nd EDIT: Read the OA thread. Understand your opinion. Carry on. 

Edited by NoMan

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Long term it’s risky. I think superhero properties are at their peak. A ton of things could happen to harm their mass appeal. Think of all the IP that used to be a household name that is now forgotten. Archie was one of the biggest comics properties for decades, Mickey Mouse was once the face of Disney. People used to collect and spend big bucks on plenty of things nobody cares about anymore. Comics are a lasting collectible with lasting value, so far, but as print falls out of favor, and younger readers choose TPB’s and premium hardcovers over floppies, what then? And remember, high comic prices tend to only be on high grade comics. Anything less than top 20% of unrestored key issues, comics are still pretty cheap. In many cases cheaper than they were when I was a kid. You can invest in a pristine SA key and hope Spider-Man remains as relevant as he ever was, and that the relevance translates to demand for his comic books, but it’s no guarantee. Spider-Man could become the next Mickey Mouse and completely dominate American and global pop culture, but if the masses on,y know him from the MCU movies, cartoons, video games, etc, they may not really want to drop tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on an old comic book. If it becomes a medium that people no longer consider collectible the first appearance of Spider-Man in comics might be like the first appearance Alf on VHS

 

And my dad did record the old Flash TV show on VHS because he thought it would be worth money some day. 

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Posted (edited)

I ain't got all that Economic education. I ain't got no skills with money. I got very few skills but the one that makes me money so I'm lucky I got that. Back to bein' all smart about money and investing about money, I ain't. I got a financial guy and a wife. They be smart. They said I could get a big key book, so the financial guy contact the Big Auction House and said, "yes, this simpleton that's written you letters about being lost in Africa without a phone is a serious bidder. It would be in your best interest to take him seriously." So I got my Big Comic Book. At our next meeting at his fancy office in that tall glass building he askd me "You good?" I said, yeah I'm good. Got a bank safe box and everything and I like my comic book entombed in plastic. Then him and my wife went to looken at stuff, graphs, investments and taxes and stuff and talken big financial words so I got a coke from a pretty secretary and stared out the window.

Next time we met, the financial guy asked me, "You like your comic book? How is it?" I said it's cool but I've been thinken of getting some of this famous Comic Book Guys original art. The financial guy and my wife looked at me and shook their heads no.  I found the pretty secretary and got a coke and stared out the window.

Like I said, I ain't smart but even I can see what happened to the westerns, can't anyone else?

Edited by NoMan

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By the way, comics (or any collectible) purely as an investment -- just say no.

I'm tickled by their lasting power, now and unto the future, but solely  as an investment vehicle?  Not for me.

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I don't consider art a collectible but some do. And IMO it is the only thing that can reliably be expected to eternally have collector value.  Stamps have seen their day and are dying or really for the most part dead except for the uber high end old stuff and even then it's not exactly turning anyone's head.  Coins are in the midst of a series decline in collecting base.  

Cards and comics are hot right now because of the masses of people who passionately collected as children in the mid 1980s and 1990s are in their prime earning years and are trying to buy back their childhood years.  That has a shelf life.  The next generations will focus on sealed 1st generation iPods, iPhones and other things.  Comics also could seriously suffer from a time when the genre becomes out of favor.  Crime Noir, Westerns, Musicals have all had long periods of massive success.  I can't fathom comic book culture in Hollywood getting anymore popular so there is only downside I see on that front.

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I still want it all. Damn wife keeps giving the money to the financial guy. 

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9 minutes ago, NoMan said:

I still want it all. Damn wife keeps giving the money to the financial guy. 

Sounds like a keeper.  But make sure that the "financial guy" isn't sticking you in high load funds or annuity products without a clear understanding on your part.  For my part, I'm with Warren Buffet, virtually everyone should just stick the money in a diversified index fund and call it a day but a lot of people do need hand holding through the process so I do see value for some, as long as they are paying close attention and their money is in a well known institution, or two, or three.

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