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How to Tell if Those Old Comic Books Are Worth Anything

Updated on September 13, 2014

I was a weird kid

When I was a kid growing up, I collected comics. Now a lot of kids had comic book collections because they enjoyed reading them, or they wanted to have an entire series from 1 until whatever the last number was, and many of my artsy-fartsy friends collected because of the particular artist. Not me.

I collected comic books because I was certain that if I played the market right, I could invest wisely and watch the comics accrue value over time. Yes, I was a pretty weird kid. I was like an investor in the tulip craze in Holland during the 1600s: I speculated. A lot.

Anyway, in my collecting years, I learned a great deal about how to price certain comics, which was an absolutely invaluable tool to have when trading with other kids, shopping at the comic book shop, or going hunting at flea markets or yard sales. All of these situations required me to be quick-witted and make decisions on the fly about whether a comic book might have any real value.


Some of my valuable comics

Some old 10 cent cover comics (golden and silver age) that turned out to be worth something!
Some old 10 cent cover comics (golden and silver age) that turned out to be worth something!

What I learned, and where I learned it

Everything I learned, I learned from Overstreet's Comic Book Price Guide. Okay, not everything, but here's what I did learn:

  • how to rate a book based on condition (spine, corners, page alignment, stapling, yellowing of the pages, and more)
  • what the various different "ages" meant, and who the standout artists and writers were
  • why certain comic books were valuable, not just the values themselves

Of course, the main value I got from the book was the pricing itself, which was not only easy to reference, but it was also definitive. There were many publications that came and went over the years, but Overstreet's Price Guide was the one publication that stayed consistently in the mix, and it was the only book that really serious collectors consulted, particularly when considering buying or selling a comic book that was considered to be particularly valuable or rare. Overstreet's is indispensable.

Grading comics

CGC grading

Source

Professional grading

If you determine that a particular comic book you have is extremely valuable, you may want to have it professionally graded. Sure, you can grade your own comics, but at some point, it becomes a really solid investment strategy to have the condition of your comic book professionally appraised. If this is done, CGC is pretty much the go-to standard. You can send your comic off and have the grading done, and based on the aforementioned scale, your comic will get their official grade, along with a unique bar code. If you decide to sell the comic at any point in the future, it will be really easy to determine the value.

Comic book conventions

Comic conventions are a great source of education.  Just start a conversation with one of the many dealers there!
Comic conventions are a great source of education. Just start a conversation with one of the many dealers there! | Source

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