The group, comprising approximately 130,000 comics from three different collections, will be sold across two two-day sales, the first on July 25-26.
Anderson & Garland specialist John Bullock-Anderson, a comics collector and cataloguer for over 30 years, has described the sale, as a career highlight. In addition to countless boxes of old titles estimated at two-figure sums are real rarities.
A battered copy of Amazing Fantasy No 15 is estimated at £5000-8000. The anthology title was only published by Marvel Comics for a year and this was its final issue cover-dated August 1962.
However, it included the debut of the character Spider-Man, a co-creation of writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. The final panel of the story includes the line ‘With great power there must also come great responsibility.’ After strong sales, the stand-alone comic The Amazing Spider-Man was launched in March 1963 and still runs today. This copy, originally priced at 9d, is in poor condition but is priced accordingly: graded copies of can bring six-figure sums).
Nostalgia is a big element in collection – hence the rising prices for Silver Age (c.1956-70) and Bronze Age (c.1970-86) material that many collectors recall from childhood years. The impact of cinema – particularly the recent reboot for many of the Marvel and DC characters – is also a powerful force in the market.
This cache of comics – the primary collection is from a vendor in Leicestershire – includes first edition copies of some of the best-known Silver Age superheroes. They include The Fantastic Four No 1 from November 1961 (estimate £1500-2500), The Avengers No 1 from September 1963 (estimate £800-1400), The Silver Surfer No 1 from August 1968 (estimate £200-300), the original 1966 incarnation of the Teen Titans No 1 (estimate £120-220) and the first of 56 issues of Aquaman from February 1962 (estimate £400-600).
Iron Man, another Ditko creation, first emerged wearing grey armour in Tales of Suspense No 39 (March 1963). By issue 40 his armour was gold and by number 48 he was wearing the sleek red-and-golden costume familiar to Hollywood blockbusters. It was not until May 1968 that the character made his solo debut: a copy of The Invincible Iron Man No 1 is estimated at £400-700.
Anderson has also been surprised to find extensive runs of many of the lesser-known British titles of the period that are a market to themselves. Some of these cover the hitherto neglected collecting area of comics for girls. A large collection of Judy comics, including the first issue dated January 16, 1960 is pitched at £70-100.
The second part of the dispersal is scheduled for the autumn.