Today a piece of Marvel history has been set in stone, with the best-preserved copy of Marvel Comics #1 selling at auction for a whopping $1,260,000. Making it the most expensive Marvel issue ever sold, and one of the most valuable comics in history.
While the name might suggest otherwise, the book was first published in 1939 by Timely Comics, decades before the conglomerated publisher would change its name to reflect their beloved book (an idea fully endorsed by Marvel legend Stan Lee). The book marks the debut appearance of the Human Torch - the original, android Human Torch - along with a costumed crimefighter named the Angel, and an expanded adventure starring the Sub-Mariner!
Even if the characters or content of Marvel Comics #1 would be changed or forgotten in the decades that followed, there's no denying that without this issue's cover art by science fiction artist Frank R. Paul, and interior artists like Bill Everett, Carl Burgos and Paul Gustavson, the Marvel Universe now raking in billions of dollars every year the world over wouldn't exist. Which is why in the 80th anniversary issue of Marvel Comics #1,000, the history of the Marvel Universe began in the events of this very first issue. As of Thursday November 21st, 2019, the issue was purchased for a $1.26 Million price tag at a public auction of vintage comic books and comic art held by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.
The quality of the issue proved to be the deciding factor in its value, with several comics in a modern reader's collection likely to fall below a 9.4 grading within years. But as the finest known issue of Marvel Comics #1, this sale sets a world record for the most expensive Marvel comic ever sold at public auction. Not to mention an auction house record as the most expensive comic book ever sold by Heritage, the world’s largest comic book and comic art auctioneer. Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions addressed the historic sale in an official press release:
This is a historic copy of a historic comic book. Without question, this is the granddaddy of all Marvel Comics, without which we would not have the characters and stories we enjoy in today’s comics and feature films.
The book was apparently purchased off a newsstand rack by a mailman in Uniontown, Pennsylvania -- a mailman who, in what is likely to have proven a lucrative habit already, purchased "every No. 1 issue he could of both comic books and magazines, beginning in the 1940s." Here's hoping other copies of the most valuable comic books in history also made their way into his unthinkably well-preserved collection.
For those curious, the sales still falls well short of the most expensive comics sold at auction, with DC having that market cornered. The most valuable Batman issue being his debut in Detective Comics #27 (sold for $2.49M) and the most coveted issue, Action Comics #1 with the first appearance of Superman which sold for $3,207,852 (while scored only a 9.0).
Marvel Comics #1 is available nowhere, unless you have more than $1,260,000 to offer.
Source: Heritage Auctions