If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t go to stop the assassination of JFK, kill Hitler before he takes to power or even observe the crucifiction of Jesus. No, I’d go back to June 1938 and pick myself a couple of copies of Action Comics #1, store them in mylar bags (with backing boards, of course) and Tupperware (have to remember to bring some since they haven’t been invented yet) and keep them in a safe deposit box. Then, when I go back to the future (zing!), I’ll just waltz to the safe deposit box and get my Action Comics #1 and, presto! Instant millionaire!
People nowadays think it’s easy to make a mint by collecting collectibles. You can see some of these rare items going for exorbitant prices. Action Comics #1, in good condition could be sold at auction for $2 million easy! A gold Nintendo World Championship could be sold on eBay for $100,000, given enough time! Rare toys can also fetch a hefty price tag as well. So, it stands to reason, if you hold on to those comics or geek items for so long, you’re going to make a fortune 20 years down the road, right?
Nope. The collecting landscape has changed people. “Rare items” aren’t that rare anymore.
The best example of this would be The Death of Superman craze. In 1992, DC Comics decided to kill off Superman. This was a huge deal back then! When the mainstream press let the public know that The Man of Steel was going to meet his end, even non-comic took notice! Of course, this was going to be a landmark issue! And this year long smackdown between Superman and Doomsday all culminated in Superman #75.
Sales for this issue went through the roof… including people who never really cared for comics! Demand for the special edition “black bag” special edition especially skyrocketed at an exponential rate! People bought more than one issue, sending DC Comics profits through the roof. Of course, not many people opened up the bag to check on its contents: a black funeral band, Daily Planet obituary of The Last Son of Krypton, a trading card (?), commemorative stamps and the comic itself. They didn’t dare to open in in fear of diminishing its value. Most people saw this as a prime investment that would pay off after 10 or 20 odd years.
What they didn’t know was they were already diminishing Superman #75’s value by buying thousands of the comic in the first place!
The main reason why the first issue of Action Comics #1 is not because it’s the first issue with Superman. It did help but that’s not why Action Comics #1 is so expensive. It’s because it’s so rare! People forget that, when the issue was published, it was World War II and paper was actually a valuable resource. So kids were told, in order to help with war effort, they had to send in their old comics for recycling! There were other reasons, of course. Parents would throw comics away. The comics just deteriorated over time. Kids would write on them. They would get ripped. So, finding a comic in good condition, much less the comic showing the first appearance of Superman, is hard!
Fast forward 70 years or so. Superman is a big name now. Superman dies. DC Comics prints a ton of copies of Superman #75. People think it’s going to be highly collectible so they buy multiple copies. DC Comics see that people want more copies so they print more. People gobbles those up. And so on and so on.
Now, how rare do you think Superman #75 is? Not rare at all! In fact, if you go on eBay right now, you’ll find a lot of people trying to sell their copies for less than 10 dollars only!
In this day of age where people actually save stuff, it’s much harder for something to become rare, especially with hundreds of “experts” speculating what will become rare and then buying boatloads of the same item. Bottom line, it’s just not worth collecting things and expect them to be worth something in the long run. I’m not saying they won’t appreciate in price in the future. I’m just saying you shouldn’t expect to make a huge profit from it.
What are your thoughts on trying to make money by collecting? Is it even possible in this day of age? Let me know what you think by leaving them in the comments section below!