Silver Age Of Comic Books
The Silver Age Of Comic Books is a period of time during which many notable comic book characters were created.
A Brief History of the Silver Age
The Silver Age of Comics refers to an era that ran from 1956 to the early 1970s. Following World War II, the popularity of superheroes as comic protagonists was in decline and the major comic companies switched to a number of alternative genres such as horror, romance and crime.
Following a perceived increase in anti-social behaviour, DC Comics decided to re-establish good role models in its comics and debuted a new version of their Golden Age character The Flash in ‘Showcase’ #4 (Oct ’56). The revamped character’s popularity led to the re-working of several of the company’s other pre-war titles, such as Green Lantern (‘Showcase’ #22, Sept/Oct ’59) and The Justice League of America (‘The Brave and The Bold’ #28, Mar ’60).
Rival company Marvel, seeing the popularity of these heroes, themselves introduced a selection of new characters including The Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four #1, Nov ’61) and Spider-Man (‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15, Aug ’62).
There is no commonly agreed time signifying the end of the Silver Age, though many consider it to be either the end of the Julius Schwartz run on Green Lantern (‘Green Lantern’ #75, Mar ’70) or “The Death of Gwen Stacey” (‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #121, Jun ’73).
Guide to Collecting
The popularity of collecting Silver Age comics is catching up with that of the Golden Age, as baby boomers become nostalgic about the comics of their youth. This is unfortunately driving prices up for collectors, but not quite to the same level as Golden Age comics which are now investment grade collectibles. Silver Age comics are heading that way, so it may be worth snapping up your desired titles now as they are likely to appreciate in value in the coming years as copies become more rare.
DC and Marvel titles are often the most sought after. Editions in a comic book series that feature the introduction of a new character, or a significant event in comic book history, are particularly sought after by collectors. For example, the holy grail of Silver Age comics is widely considered to be Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man. The debut appearances of the Silver Age Flash, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man etc are likewise favourites amongst Silver Age collectors.
With so many significant titles to choose from, it makes sense for a collector to focus their collection onto one character, title, series, publisher, writer or illustrator. Set a collecting goal, and hunt down the missing titles in your collection.
Price can vary hugely dependent on the condition. Most comic books will have been kept in their wrappers. Always buy the best condition you can afford.
Silver Age comic books can be found at specialist comic book auctions, at comic book fairs and conventions, through dealers, on eBay and other second hand platforms. Always make sure to buy from a reputable dealer and get a lifetime guarantee if possible.
Valuations and Notable Auctions
Some of the most renowned Silver Age comics tend to sell for high prices on most sites. For example, Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ #4 (valued at $6,000) and featuring the eagerly anticipated return of Marvel’s Golden Age hero Captain America sold on HA for $22,705 on 24/02/2011.
Another Marvel debut in ‘Fantastic Four’ #1 (valued at $80,000) also sold at HA for $47,800 on 24/02/2011. Alternatively, if you wanted to see the first appearance of Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern, ‘Showcase’ #22, which is valued at up to $25,000 was bought for a total of $59,750 on HA on 19/11/2009.
These are all landmark issues for America’s two biggest comic book houses and editions in good condition can fetch a relatively high amount at auction. However, there are some sought-after comics that even top the $100,000 mark when they go to sale. A prime example of this is Marvel’s ‘Incredible Hulk’ #1, which is valued at up to $68,000. On 19/11/2009, a high quality edition of this comic sold on HA for $125,475.
If you wanted to own the comic that supposedly started it all, ‘Showcase’ #4 featuring the first appearance of Barry Allen as The Flash, is valued at $52,000. However, on 21/05/2009 a copy of this issue was sold on HA for a staggering $179,250.
Record breaking Sales
A comic that is considered to be undervalued by some collectors is Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ #1, featuring the very first team-up of this now well-loved superhero team. Up until 2011, high quality copies of this issue were valued at $25,000, but most copies sold at auction for less than this. As an example, the highest auction for this comic in recent years was at HA for $17,250 on 12/10/2002. This all changed, however, in October 2011 when a rare high-grade copy of this comic sold in a private sale at Metropolis Collectibles for an amazing $250,000.
There remains, however, one Silver Age comic that has long been considered the most sought-after of them all, and in good condition this tends to carry the highest value. Marvel’s debut of popular hero Spider-Man in ‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15 changed the world in many ways.
Today, if you wanted to own a copy of this issue, you would find that even low-grade editions are valued at $7,000, with the very high quality copies valued at $140,000. Surpassing even this, however, was an auction at Comic Connect on 07/03/2011, where a high-grade edition of this comic was sold at an astonishing $1,100,000.
This could potentially to be one of the largest sums that will ever be paid for a Silver Age comic book. In fact, it has only ever been beaten by one issue; a Golden Age comic that was sold on Comic Connect on 29/03/2010 for a record breaking (and staggering) $1,500,000. That comic was, of course, ‘Action Comics’ #1 from June 1938 and featured the first appearance of the Man of Steel himself – Superman.
If you are interested in becoming a collector of classic comic books, or expanding your existing collection, there are a number of options to choose from. However, when all is said and done it is arguably the Silver Age that brought the world many of its most loved and best remembered heroes in their greatest adventures and it is from here that you could find some of the finest comic books that have ever been written.
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