There are a number of different factors to consider when you are determining vintage comic book values.
The Beginning of Comic Books
For more than a century, children and adults have enjoyed reading and collecting comic books. The first comic book, published in 1897, told the story of The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats written by Richard Felton Outcalt.
The book was based on Outcalt's 1895 lead comic strip character from Hogan's Alley, The Yellow Kid. It was this book that gave the world the name comic book. It also began the Platinum Age of Comics which ended in 1937.
The Ages of Comic Books
Similar to other antique and vintage collectibles comic books are broken into eras by the year of their printing. When referring to comic books, the era is known as age.
For comic books published in North America the ages are:
- The Platinum Age - 1897 to 1937
- The Golden Age - 1938 to 1955
- The Silver Age - 1956 to 1972
- The Bronze Age - 1973 to 1985
- The Modern Age - 1986 to current
Grading Vintage Comic Books
Like baseball cards, comic books are graded as a way of standardizing the description of their conditions. If you are grading your own comic books, it is very important to carefully examine the entire comic including the inside and outside of the spine, all of the pages and the covers. Things to check for include:
- Writing or any other marks
- Tape or markings from tape
- Pieces of a page or cover missing
- Entire pages missing
- Any type of soiling
Once you have determined the condition of your comics you assign the books a grade using the guidelines of the Overstreet Grading Scale.
The Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide is considered the industry standard. The newest addition, by Robert M. Overstreet is available from Amazon.
Third Party Grading Services
If you decide to have your vintage comics graded by a third party service, make sure to use a well established and recognized company. Many comic book dealers and collectors recognize the Certified Guaranty Corporation, known as CGC, as the industry standard for grading and certifying comic books. After the CGC certifies a comic book it is returned to you encapsulated in a tamper-evident holder that is state-of-the-art ensuring its protection and preservation.
Another well known and highly respected third-party comic book grading service is
- Professional Grading Experts, known as PGX
Determining Vintage Comic Book Values
The value of a vintage comic book is based a set of criteria that includes:
In general vintage comics published between the years of 1938 to 1979 have a high collectible value. If the issue is an original issue or has the first appearance of a superhero character, it is even more desirable to collectors.
There are several ways of determining the current value, or worth, of vintage comic books.
- Look up your comic book online to compare it against current sales at websites such as:
- The Heritage Auction Gallery
- Ruby Lane
Always make sure that the comic you are comparing is the exact same comic book as the one you have and that it is in the same condition. Doing this gives you the current selling price of the comic.
- Check a comic book price guide to get a price range based on the book's condition. The following price guides are available at Amazon.com.
- The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 40 by Robert M. Overstreet
- 2010 Comic Book Checklist & Price Guide by Maggie Thompson
- Comics Value Annual by Alex G. Malloy
- Online comic book price guides