Welcome back to Hammer Drops! If you follow auction news like we do, you saw a pretty interesting headline this week. Over one-thousand books from the personal library of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg are coming to auction later this month, courtesy of Bonhams auction house. This got us thinking about the idea of collections where the collector, in some way, imparted the item with value. That’s our topic this week!
Pedigree Comic Collections
Almost as long as there have been comic collectors, there have been famous collections. In a community of collectors, word gets around about the people with the absolute creme de la creme of stuff. The Certified Guarantee Company, AKA CGC, codified the concept of “pedigree collections” as it has codified so many once-nebulous aspects of comic collecting. To be a pedigree collection, a comic collection must meet three criteria:
- High Grade. Pedigree collections are the home or source for many of the most pristine copies of Golden and Silver Age comics around.
- Origin. Simply put, the entire collection must have been put together by one collector when the comics were new. The uniformity of care is a major selling point of pedigree comics, and something that cannot be guaranteed by buying back issues.
- Size. Generally speaking, a pedigree collection must be over 1,000 comics and contain sizable runs or rare key issues.
CGC currently recognizes sixty different pedigree collections. One of the most famous is the Allentown Collection, which came to market in 1987. It is tiny by most pedigree standards, consisting of only 137 comics. That said, it is the source of some of the highest grade golden age keys in existence.The White Mountain collection, auctioned off by Sotheby’s in early 90s, was the first pedigreed Silver Age collection. It set the standard used to pedigree such collections to this day.
When you’re famous, people tend to give you stuff. Promo posters, movie props. toys, if you’re a celebrity and your likeness is on it, you probably got a copy. Items that would usually be of lower value gain value just by having come from the personal collection of the famous person on them.
A great example of this would be The Hoff Auction carried out by Diligent Auction Services lat year. It brought selections from David Hasselhoff’s personal collection to market. This ranged from mundane items like Barbie dolls and promotional photos (all signed, naturally) to big ticket props like The Hoff’s personal KITT and the giant animatonic Hasselhoff used in the first Spongebob movie.
According to our research, posters and programs for Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical usually go for $10-40. Specimens from David Hassellhoff’s personal collection sold for a collective $2200. Though the items themselves may be fairly common and low value, these are the only ones on the market that were own by The Hoff himself. That provenance lends value.
The Lesson: Provenance Matters
We every much doubt that all the hundreds of books from Justice Ginsberg’s library would be valued highly if presented anonymously to a used book store. It is the fact that they were owned by a highly regarded jurist and legal scholar that lends them added value. As with a pedigree comic collection or celebrity’s memorabilia, having a proven and respected source lends the collection prestige in the eyes of buyers. That prestige translates into monetary value.
On the off chance that you’re an actor, comic writer, or other public figure looking for the right people to help you get your collection into the right hands, we’re standing by for your call. If you don’t happen to be famous, that’s ok – we give our consignors the star treatment around here every day! And if you’re more comfortable with disposing of your collection on your own, we’ll keep giving you tops and tricks every Wednesday in Hammer Drops.