Action Comics #1 shatters record at auction

A copy of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman which revolutionized the industry, in almost perfect condition has sold on eBay for $3,207,852, shattering the previous record price of $2.16 million set in 2011 by Nicholas Cage’s famously purloined copy. It is the first comic to pass the three million dollar mark. The buyers are Metropolis/ComicConnect, renown vintage comic dealers who in fact sold the Cage copy. It is not known if they were acquiring it for a private collector or for themselves.

Given a Certified Guaranty Company universal grade of 9.0 with White Pages, this copy is considered the finest Action Comics #1 ever graded. The previous record-holder was a 9.0 as well, but this one is a stronger 9, with glossy front and back covers, more brilliant colors and those perfect white pages. There is no yellowing whatsoever. It looks like it came fresh off the presses, with only two spine stress marks testifying to its ever having been opened at all. Only one other copy of this comic was graded Perfect White Pages, and that one had a mere 2.5 CGC grade.

Its condition is so astonishing that the first dealer who got his hands on it thought it might be a later reissue he didn’t know about. He had never seen a copy that was so flat with such white pages. The reason it was in such impeccable condition was that the while the first owner bought it for 10 cents from the newsstand in 1938 like 200,000 other people did, unlike most everyone else he lived at fairly high altitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia and when he finished reading it, he put the comic in a cedar chest where it remained virtually untouched for four decades. The cool, dark, dry environment of the cedar chest froze time for this comic.

In the late 70s, comics and collectibles dealer Joe Mannarino got a phone call from the son of the original owner. He had seen an ad Mannarino put in a local paper offering to buy vintage comics and wanted to sell the stack of comics in his father’s hope chest. There were about 35 comics in the collection, an eclectic mish-mash that included most notably Action Comics #1, Action Comics #2 and Planet Comics #2. Mannarino bought the books for several thousand dollars.

He decided to store his pristine new Action Comics #1 exactly as it had been stored all these decades: in a cedar-lined chest. A few years later he sold it to another dealer who kept its existence secret for 30 years until this year when he decided to sell it to Darren Adams of Pristine Comics. It’s Adams who sold it on eBay on Sunday, with 1% of the proceeds going to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in honor of Reeve’s iconic Superman.

You can see how incredible the copy looks in this video that leafs through every page.


You can also virtually leaf through every perfect white page yourself on the CGC website. The photographs of the covers and pages aren’t as high resolution as I would like them to be for optimal reading, but it’s still legible and conveys clearly what a special copy of Action Comics #1 this is. Don’t miss the first appearance of Zatara, Master Magician, and his fabulous arch-enemy The Tigress. I love how everyone sports such varied and stylish headgear.

8 thoughts on “Action Comics #1 shatters record at auction

  1. I’m not a professional collector, not by a mile. The condition of that comic is incredible. I mean, all of my comics are less than 15 years old and I bet some of the newsprint ones aren’t in as good condition as that 76 year old comic. It’s surreal how beautiful it is. Even as a non-collector I would have been skeptical of it being an original.

    1. I had the same reaction. I’m no connoisseur, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic book in that kind of condition no matter what its age. I mean, do they even make pages that white anymore? All the ones I’ve ever seen or handled are sort of cream-colored.

  2. If this is no Ebay PR stunt, i.e. paying 3m to themselves, what are the market dynamics behind it ? If this is really worth three million, despite its remarkable condition, what could be the fair value for the original drawings ? Would a connoisseur be interested in them -and if not, why ?

  3. Whoever had this knew that someday it would be a collector’s item– or it had a high personal value. Or both. It clearly had been stored in archival conditions, away from light and moisture, the bane of anything on paper. The paper itself was likely not the highly acid pulp that later comics were printed on, which colors and deteriorate rapidly. I remember glossy covers… just. That was a long time ago. Comics on good paper have made a comeback, but almost anything collected from the last half of the 20th century are almost certainly cheaper non-buffered wood pulp paper: the things just were not seen as long-term publications back then. People kept them mostly for sentimental reasons and most didn’t use archival storage. My cousin had a roomful of comics, in stacks on the floor and shelves, things he’d read as a boy. Sold in his 50s for what he considered good money. Wonder what they’d bring now?

  4. With such a prominent & boasting tie-in with the Christopher Reeve Foundation (even in the subtitle of the listing and heavily mentioned in the media blitz), which naturally drives traffic towards the auction, seller’s store, and such, why is ONLY 1% of proceeds all that is donated???!!! That is a sad % in light of the profits. Also considering that the first year of care for a spinal cord injury victim can pass $170,000. The 1% donation is a huge kryptonic slap in Superman’s face and the rest of caring humanity.

  5. I think his piss ass 1% is beyond pathetic myself..The original owner to get 3.2 million seriously couldnt donate 100,000 if he reads this yes dude ur pathetic..

  6. I’ve got some of those comics from the second half of the 20th century and given how many times some of these editions changed hands ( besides the newsstand copies that I bought myself )95% of them are still in excellent condition, even if they’re not all VF-M.

    I was looking through a reading copy of Batman #256 (1974) that I had picked up from a comics shop,and was astounded how white and creamy the interior pages still were. The book itself, overall is about a Good+ but man, those pages are killer!

    And when I first started seriously collecting and preserving comics in 1975,the only practical storage method available to me was good ol’ manila file folders in bankers boxes.

    Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but those same books persist to this day, as lovely as they were when I first bought them! I also managed to dodge a bullet, of sorts.
    In the now, most collectors are big fans of comic long boxes and, I would say that they ARE convenient, save for one thing.

    Comics, even though bagged and boarded, are stored in a VERTICAL fashion in these boxes.
    Every time you flip through these boxes, you add a slight amount of damage to the spine of the book, because they ARE vertical.

    When I stored my comics in the file folders, the only way they would fit,was horizontally,with the spines DOWN.

    The most flexible part of a comic book, is the body-it can take the “flipping through” motion MUCH better than the spine EVER could! Think about it.

    To this day, I have tons of books that are stored spine down and in the same type of bankers boxes!

  7. I just pulled out BATMAN FAMILY #3 (Jan-Feb 1976-ACTUAL purchase in November 1975)from a manila file folder-UNBAGGED!

    It is STILL as sweet as the day I bought it!


    Printed on “Toilet Paper.”

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