A comics and comic art auction held in Dallas by Heritage (20% buyer’s premium) spanned three days and presented as a major attraction the appearance of just 181 comics from the Promise Collection.
During this year and next, Heritage will sell more than 5000 comics from this extraordinary collection, purchased off news stands in the 1940s by a young lad who grew up to be a soldier but lost his life while serving in the US army in Korea in the early 1950s. For decades the collection was kept safe by the brother who had promised to look after them, hence its name.
In remarkable condition, some of them near mint, these comics that made up this first selection of high spots in a June 16-18 sale raised $7.1m (£5.14m) overall, including premiums.
Two lots, both dating from 1948 and bearing exceptional, CGC near mint+ ratings of 9.6, saw bidding reach $380,000 (£275,360).
They were Issue No 140 of Detective Comics, one in which The Riddler made his debut, and Phantom Lady No 17. The latter’s cover art, by Matt Baker, is considered by comic fans to be one of the most impressive creations of the ‘Golden Age’ – the period 1938-56. Several other issues of Detective Comics, including a couple that bore remarkable CGC ratings of 9.8, brought high five or even six-figure bids.
Sold for $170,000 (£122,910) was a copy of Captain America comic No 36 of March 1944, in which Syd Shores’ cover artwork depicts our hero yanking Hitler out of his convertible, much to the astonishment of his fellow passengers and the accompanying motorcycle riders.
A few lots later, another Captain America comic, No 74, bearing a CGC 9.2 grading, sold for exactly the same sum.
Described as bearing “perhaps the most famous and highly sought-after airbrushed cover by Golden Age icon Alix Schomburg”, a copy of Startling Comics No 49, graded CGC 9.6, sold at a far higher than predicted $110,000 (£79,710).
From other properties came a copy of the 1939 issue of Detective Comics, graded CGC 5.0, that featured the first appearance of Batman. It sold at $937,500 (£679,350).
Bid to $700,000 (£507,245) was the original, black and white cover artwork by Wally Wood for Shock SuspenStories No 6 of 1952. The cover, said Heritage, “depicts a hooded mob of the Black Vigilante Society menacing one of the most gorgeously rendered women ever to appear on a comic book cover”.
The stories from Shock…, the cataloguer noted, “…were EC’s most pointed attempts to address socially relevant subject matter such as racial prejudice, revolutionary for comic stories of the time, and no single image is more famous than this”.