We are Joe and Nadia Mannarino, and we have been actively involved in the field for nearly 30 years and have been collectors for over 40. We own All Star Auctions LLC and are the same Joe and Nadia who inaugurated the Comic Collectible auctions at Christie’s from 1992 through 1997, the last year Christie’s held the Comic Collectibles Sale. For full résumés http://comicartappraisal.com/about.html
How did Comic Art Appraisal LLC come to be?
Comic Art Appraisal LLC is an extension of the formal appraisal services that we have been administering for over 20 years. We have formalized our criteria and services and are offering this service in a more public forum and on an individual basis. We have promoted this service in our literature and on our site since the day we began, and in fact still do at: http://www.allstarauctions.net/apprais.htm
What determines the value of a comic book?
By definition a mass produced product such as comic books, cars, posters, stamps, coins, dolls, toys, figurines, action figures, advertising and even antique furniture was produced in quantity. Obviously, within every field of mass produced collectibles there are varying factors that affect value. In the case of comic books there are several price guides that list titles and description but do not discuss the factors that affect value. Nearly all of the factors from the CAAR© (Comic Art Appraisal Rating) apply. Keep in mind that these factors do not bear equal weight nor are they in order of importance.
Content- Refers to the actual content (characters etc.) that appear within the specific book
Context- Historical significance of the contents of the book, such as origins or first appearances
Continuity- The longer a title, publication, publisher or character appears, the greater the interest tends to remain.
Artist- The reputation, standing and talent of the individuals involved in the creative process of the specific book.
Creativity- defined as the aesthetic of the art usually refers to the cover if not the interiors of a comic book.
Cross-over appeal- Both in and out of their normal niches (Obama appearing in a Spider-Man comic)
Confirmation - authenticity, pedigree, provenance
Cyclical interest- In all fields of collectibles, cyclical interest can lead to spikes in value within a particular segment. This can be associated with an event (movie) or even a new significant collector.
Condition- Condition in a mass produced item such as a comic book is a dominant factor in determining the value. Grading a comic book is more art than science. Restoration greatly reduces the value of a comparable book as it artificially increases the number of books in higher condition. It is usually very difficult for the average person to detect professional restoration. It is highly recommended to have the grade established by an independent grading service such as CGC http://www.cgccomics.com/services/services_and_fees.asp .
Rarity/scarcity of an of an issue within a title or of the title itself- Many factors may contribute to the relative scarcity, rarity or number of examples known to exist of a particular book. These include but in no means limited to : Number of copies printed, subscriptions, circulation prior to a title introducing a popular character, new publisher, distribution and general collecting trends at the time of publication.
Is this a price guide or the beginning of a price guide?
Our purpose is not to create a price guide, tell anyone what should be charged or paid for their collectibles. However, collectors should be aware of the factors that determine value in the current market. Keep the actual price out of it, focusing on the factors that affect demand and desirability. In addition, collectors should be interested in the process and criteria an insurance company goes through when and if a claim is filed, or what the IRS, a financial institution or legal system requires when collectibles become an issue.
What is the purpose for a formal comic book appraisal?
During the last 20 years we have been involved in numerous insurance, estate, IRS and disbursement appraisals as a service for clients. As such, we have served all sides; clients who require a formal appraisal for insurance coverage; insurance companies in the case of claims; institutions for the purpose of IRS deductible donations/ contributions; the IRS for the purpose of verification, as well as financial institutions which may be issuing credit based on a collectible as collateral. The list can go much further including diverse requests from attorneys. We have provided these services for many if not a majority of the high profile collectors, institutions, artists and estates in recent years who have required it. We are proud to say that to the best of our knowledge, no claim has been successfully contested. In this capacity Nadia is a member of The Appraisers Association of America. We have promoted this service in our literature and on our site since the day we began, and in fact still do at: http://www.allstarauctions.net/apprais.htm Also, http://www.comicartappraisal.com has been an active web site for over five years, it is just being updated.
This portion of our business has been growing steadily. The reason is simple, as the value of collectibles has risen, so has fraud, the fear of loss and the need for insurance. We have been successful in our responsibility for a number of reasons. We have always formally addressed and documented the 3 basic criteria that all of the above require;
Proof of ownership
Proof of authenticity
Objective criteria for establishing value
Charitable Gifts And Donations Of Comic Books
Charitable gifts of Comic Books, Original Comic Art and related material, come under the heading of Gift-In-Kind. Rules governing such gifts are covered in The Internal Revenue Service Form 8283 which must be filed by persons claiming the donation of a gift-in-kind valued at more than $500. For more information do a Google search for Internal Revenue Service Form 8283 and download the form with guidelines and instructions. Appraisal requirements are outlined in detail.
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Instructions for Form 8283
(Rev. December 2005)
Noncash Charitable Contributions
How does your service help establish Proof of Ownership?
In the case of an insurance claim or loss the more documentation one maintains the better. In addition to maintaining proper records, having an example of art photographed, described, rated and included in a third parties database, satisfies two of the basic criteria; authenticity and ownership. Regardless of documentation, most institutions will check with a third party before rendering a final decision.
Stolen Art, Statute Of Limitations, Title Comic Books and Art
"Under United States law, neither a thief nor any purchaser through a thief can take good title “
Ralph E. Lerner and Judith Bresler, ART LAW 1998 Practicing Law Institute
This is subject to a statute of limitations which varies
from country to country and state to state. However, NY State and California
have the toughest statutes. A significant point, “ the statute of limitations
period on the claim to recover stolen property from a good faith purchaser does
not begin to run until the possessor refuses to return the object upon demand”.
It is estimated that over $100 million in stolen art changes hands each year. If an object of art is reported lost or stolen and a false claim is filed and paid it is considered stolen art. A good article on the subject appears at: http://www.artcellarex.com/artlaw3.html The Art Loss Register Ltd is a tremendous resource. The Mission of the ALR is to recover stolen and missing fine art and antiques and to provide a central clearinghouse for acquirers of art to determine good title thereby deterring theft and the trade in stolen art. http://www.artloss.com “Collectors should consider how to minimize risk BEFORE purchase, DURING ownership and what actions to take in the event of a LOSS.”
How can you be an expert in all segments, eras and categories of comic character collectibles?
No one can be an expert in every aspect of a field. In addition to a comprehensive database of “comparables”, we have always contacted and utilized people we feel are experts in particular segments. We will continue to do this and have already engaged a core group of remote experts. The key is for the collectible to be examined, catalogued, photographed and condition documented. The image and data can then be sent to remote consultants for rating as we use a minimum of three graders on each item.
Why is it difficult to obtain a professional appraisal
for a comic collection that predominately dates from the 1980’s to the present?
As a general guide, comic book “collecting” did not truly begin until the mid-sixties. It was at this time that the publishers encouraged fans through letter pages. Organized fandom followed. Prior to approximately 1965, comic books were not normally “collected”. They were roughly bundled, shipped to newsstands and usually stored in improper environments after being read. Proper storage techniques were not introduced until the late sixties. Books published after 1975 were produced in great quantity, collected and "stored" in excellent condition, this has lead to great supply with little demand with few exceptions. Most titles from 1980 to present may not be worth the cover price. However, a dealer of books may have to charge significantly more for an individual book than the value of the book if bought in bulk. This is reflected in the various price guides. This leaves the appraiser in a quandary, is the value of a large collection the sum of each individual book, as if purchased retail or does it reflect the bulk “blockage” value that the collection would bring if offered on the market?
What are the most valuable comic books?
In the world of comic book collecting Super Hero titles are more valuable
than Archies, Dells, Gold Keys, Harveys or Classics Illustrated. Marvel
Comics are the most valuable of the post 1960 books followed by DC (National
Periodicals). As opposed to other fields rarity does not usually equal demand or value. There have been many comic book titles that were produced in small quantities with no significant factors that are very rare yet have very little demand for them.
Why does the age of a comic book not always translate to
value? Isn’t it true that the older the comic book the rarer and more valuable?
In general the historical timeline for comic books are divided into “ages”
Precursors, Golden age (introduction of super heroes), silver age, bronze age, modern age etc. There have been many comic book titles that were produced in small quantities during all of these periods with no significant factors that may be very rare yet display very little demand. As such low value is the result.
Should I have a comic book restored? How does
restoration affect the value of a comic book?
In a mass produced product, condition is a significant factor in determining the value. The reason is simple, if there are 1000 of a specific collectible in existence, the majority will normally be in average or well worn condition. There may be very few if any, in true “mint” condition. There are always collectors who desire the best of the best. This creates competition for the best and resultant increased value. A mint copy of a key comic book may be worth 10 to 100 times the value of an average copy. A restored copy of a comic book is worth significantly less than an unrestored copy as it artificially increases the number of books in higher condition. Collectors competing for high grade unrestored examples prefer an untouched copy. The value of a restored book may be worth two to three grades less than the “apparent restored grade”. It is usually very difficult for the average person to detect professional restoration.
What are the benefits and negatives of a comic book
We have no affiliation, financial interest or association with any grading service. We are often asked about the plusses and minuses of having books professionally graded and encapsulated. As described above, condition is a primary factor in determining the value of a comic book. Detecting restoration is also critical in determining the value of highly priced books. Grading is as much an art as it is a science. There are hundreds if not thousands of circumstances that can cause “defects” on a comic book. From a simple crease, fading, spine roll, yellowed paper to any possible number of stains, rips and bruises. How does a novice decide if the defects place a book in one grade or another? As values of comic books have risen so has the need for an independent grading service. In our opinion, when buying a book, it is an inexpensive insurance policy. Whether right, wrong or indifferent it does provide a measure of consistency across the wide spectrum of collectors. Unfortunately, when a book is ungraded it elicits suspicion and normally realizes a lower price. This leads to the conundrum of when to grade a book as a vast number of books may not be worth the cost of the grading.
How to grade a comic book
A complete description of how to properly grade a comic book is beyond the scope of this FAQ. However, as a very brief outline the following terms have historically applied. From lowest to highest: Poor, Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, Near Mint and Mint. An average, flat, collectible copy, carefully read, stored in a typical environment is usually a very good. The greatest misconception occurs when one attempts to take the “age of the comic book into consideration”. Age is not a factor when grading a comic book. 99% of all comic books sold off the newsstands from 1934 to 1968 were not in mint condition when they were purchased. It takes an incredible number of circumstances for a book to be graded near mint or higher. Many of these books may never have been sold. They may have been publisher or distributor file copies that never reached a newsstand. Others may have been carefully selected, never read and stored in extraordinary environments.
What is the best method to sell a comic book?
Historically there are three to four methods of selling a comic book or collection.
1. A dealer– this can either be an independent dealer who only sells comic books or a local retailer.
2. Auction company that specializes in collectibles
3. Sell directly via the internet, mail order, conventions or flea markets.
Each of the above has its pluses and minuses. One factor applies to all three, before you sell your collection it is best to find out what they are worth!
Is there a potential conflict of interest with All Star Auctions LLC when creating a formal appraisal?
Every formal appraisal contains a disclaimer:- Under: DISCLAIMER, LIMITING CONDITIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS reads as follows:
Comic Art Appraisal LLC and/or the employee has no financial interest in the items and does not contemplate any such interest in the future.
Is a high score in all the comic book value factors always a positive?
Again, the criteria reflect the factors within the current market that affect value. The most volatile factor is likely Cyclical Interest as it addresses outside influences that can change with time, either upward or down. When a high rating appears in Cyclical Interest one should ask further questions.
Cyclical Interest- In all fields of collectibles, cyclical interest can lead to spikes in value within a particular segment. Spikes are usually temporary but in some instances remain on-going. Factors include:
o A collector(s) entering a field and impacting pricing by offering uncharacteristic prices for a very narrow range of items.
o Institutional interest such as an exhibit or academic event.
o A happening such as a character or titles’ anniversary, a movie or TV adaptation may increase (usually temporarily) interest leading to speculation
o In addition, within each collectibles market there are definite segments; in comic book art they may be sectioned by “age” Golden age, silver age, bronze age, or by publisher, Timely, Marvel, DC, Image, Centaur, Fawcett etc.
o Characters and story lines enter in and out of favor as do artists and titles. In determining a value rating , this cyclical interest should be taken into consideration.
o Freshness to the market as defined by the number of times an item has been offered as well as the length of time between offerings.
o A high cyclical rating should encourage further inquires into the basis of the rating