Rare comics found in basement to be auctioned

Friday, October 30, 2009 | 1:49 p.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES — Comic book collectors are excited over an upcoming auction in St. Charles — an auction involving more than 3,000 well-preserved old comic books found in the basement of a suburban St. Louis home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that the find includes a copy of Spider-Man's first appearance in print, in issue 15 of the comic book Amazing Fantasy.

Tina Weiman of Mound City Auctions believes the collection could be worth more than $500,000. The Spider-Man book alone could be worth more than the $65,000 sale of the split-level home where it was found, Weiman said.

The comics are mainly from the 1960s and were found in the basement of a home in Arnold. The owner collected them as a boy. He died several years ago, and his mother died earlier this year. A cousin who became heir to the estate found the comic books. The heir has chosen to remain anonymous.

The comics will be sold Sunday and Monday in a ballroom at Ameristar Casino, both live and online, starting at 10 a.m. CDT time both days.

"The interest has been amazing," Weiman said. "All the phone calls, the chat room talk. People flying in from New York. We do a lot of auctions, but this has become a whole different ballgame."

The collection also includes the 22nd issue of Showcase — the first appearance of Silver Age Green Lantern, and a near-pristine copy of the first issue of X-Men.

Mark Farace, owner of All-American Collectibles in St. Louis, said the 1960s were part of what's known as the "silver age" for comics — the "golden age" generally dates to the 1940s. Characters like Superman and Batman made their debuts in the late 1930s. Farace told the newspaper that quality copies of their first appearances fetch more than $300,000.

"Still, this is a pretty big deal," Farace said. "I've owned this shop for 11 years, and I can only remember two other times like this. Most people already have dug into their closets and basements and sold their good stuff."

Weiman said she understands that people have passions.

"Think about baseball card collectors," she said. "And from what I've seen so far, comic book people take the cake."

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