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10 Times Valuable Comic Books Were Found in Homes
In the world of comic book collecting, there are a few holy grails—the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1, 1938) and Batman (Detective Comics #27, 1939) and the birth of the Marvel universe (Marvel Comics #1, 1939) chief among them. Their value comes not only from being the origins of the superhero genre but also from their extreme rarity.
That makes it all the more incredible that some lucky people have found these valuable books stashed away in their homes. You’d probably be more likely to win the lottery than to have these sitting around your house, but check your attic anyway. Let’s take a look at ten times that extremely rare and valuable comic books were found in an unsuspecting home.
10 Superman Saves the House from Foreclosure
In 2010, a married couple in the American South was in a financial crunch. They had taken out a second mortgage on their home to start a new business, which had failed in the economic turmoil we now know as the Great Recession. Behind on their payments, the bank was ready to foreclose. With their hearts breaking, they started packing up in preparation for losing their home and having to move. While looking for good packing boxes in their basement, they stumbled across a handful of comic books. Most were unexceptional, but one was a find that would change their lives.
It was a copy of Action Comics #1, the 1938 comic that introduced Superman to the world. The couple, who chose to remain anonymous due to expected windfall from their stroke of luck, contacted comics auction house ComicConnect, who helped them get the book sold. Graded a 5.0 (Very Fine/Good) by the experts at Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), the lucky couple’s Action #1 ended up selling for $436,000. Superman was able to add saving a home from foreclosure to his already impressive resume.
9 Priceless Treasures Saved from the Trash
In early 1977 in Boulder, Colorado, Chuck Rozanski took a phone call at this Mile High Comics store that would change his life—and the field of comic book collecting. A realtor called to say he was trying to sell a house, but a large collection of comics needed to be disposed of immediately. Once Rozanski made his way to the home, he was shown a basement completely filled with stacks of comics—and he had to take all of them if he wanted to make a deal.
The collection had been assembled by Edgar Church, a commercial illustrator who bought nearly every American comic book published between 1937 and 1957 in an effort to help him keep up with the trends in his field. Church’s family wanted the comics gone as soon as possible so that they could sell the home. It seems most of the comics were looked at once, had a date penciled on them, and were then stored away. The result is what CGC calls “the most remarkable collection of vintage comic books ever discovered.” Featuring all the key issues of the era in some of the best conditions that have ever surfaced, the Edgar Church/Mile High Collection set the modern standards for grading and pricing rare comic books.
8 The Action Comics #1 Used as Insulation
In 2013, contractor David Gonzalez and his wife Deanna purchased a fixer-upper home in Elbow Lake, Minnesota, for $10,100. While knocking down a wall, he found that newspapers had been used as makeshift insulation. Amid the newspapers was an unbelievable find—a copy of Action Comics #1. The home had been built in 1938, the same year that the first Superman comic hit newsstands.
While not in mint condition, it’s still such a rare, valuable, and iconic book that it was bound to fetch a handsome sum. Unfortunately, an argument over the book’s value between Gonzalez and a relative led to the back cover being ripped off. That took the condition down from an estimated CGC rating of 3.0 to a 1.5. “That was a $75,000 tear,” said Stephen Fisher of ComicConnect after the comic sold for $175,000.
7 The Previously Unknown Comic Book
The massively successful comic book and movie studio we know today as Marvel has its roots in a company known as Timely Comics, founded in 1939. In the fall of that year, Timely published Marvel Comics #1, featuring Marvel characters still in print today, such as the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. Timely eventually evolved into Marvel Comics, and it was accepted that their legacy had started with Timely’s Marvel Comics #1. That was until a previously unknown comic was discovered in the home of an art studio head in 1974.
Lloyd Jacquet was the head of Funnies, Inc., the studio that provided the artwork for Timely’s comics in 1939. Upon his passing in 1974, his heirs prepared an estate sale, and they found among his possessions six copies of the previously unknown Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly #1. Once it was discovered that this comic had the same Sub-Mariner story that ran in Marvel Comics #1, it threw into question the history of Marvel. What was this book, and where did it come from? It turns out it was to be a giveaway at movie theaters. Once that idea went nowhere, the included stories were eventually sold to Timely for use in their early comics. Probably the rarest comic book ever found in a home closet, it’s also an important document of early Marvel history.
6 Nicolas Cage’s Comic in the Storage Unit
Despite it being the most valuable comic book in the world and extremely rare, with only about 100 copies known to exist still, Action Comics #1 keeps showing up in the strangest places. This copy was technically not found in a home, but where you keep things that don’t fit in your house.
In 2011, a beautiful copy showed up in an abandoned California storage unit. The person who bought the unit’s contents at auction immediately knew there was something up with this lucky find. After some investigation, it was determined to be the copy stolen from actor Nicolas Cage in January 2000.
Cage is an avowed fan of Superman and comics in general. At one point, he had two holy grails in his collection—pristine copies of Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27, the first appearances of Superman and Batman, respectively. Both were stolen from his house on January 21, 2000. Although he had sold the rest of his comics collection in the interim, he wanted his copy back when it resurfaced in 2011. Since his insurance company had covered the theft, it’s unclear if he was ever reunited with it. The “storage unit” Action Comics #1 went up for auction in 2011. However, it’s unknown if the seller was Cage, his insurance company, or the winner of the storage unit auction.
5 The Allentown Pedigree
CGC recognizes outstanding collections of vintage comics that were originally purchased at newsstands and preserved by the original owner as “Pedigree Collections.” As of this writing, CGC has only granted the title to 61 collections. One of the most prized pedigrees was literally found in a closet, having sat there, forgotten for decades. Everyone has heard a story about a great comic book collection that Mom threw away, but what if Mom had actually boxed them up and saved them?
That’s the story behind the Allentown Pedigree, named for the Pennsylvania town where they came from. The original owner, who remains anonymous, had purchased a mere 135 comics in his youth. In that relatively small collection were several key issues such as Detective Comics #27, Marvel Comics #1, Captain America #1, and Batman #1. This places the collection’s origins from 1939 to 1941, when the original owner’s mother boxed them up and put them in the closet, where they remained undiscovered until 1987. At that time, two comics dealers purchased them. Even though the collection has been broken up and sold to many different owners over the years, the Allentown Pedigree is still recognized today as one of the highest-graded collections of Golden Age comics.
4 Treasure in the Hoarder House
We’ve all seen the houses of hoarders on TV, and it’s safe to say most of us would not want to go in to find out what’s in there for ourselves. In 2017, Rene Nezhoda, owner of a thrift store in the San Diego area, decided it was worth entering a Los Angeles-area hoarder house because of the collectibles purported to be inside. His efforts paid off, as the house was indeed filled with rarities of all kinds, including some very desirable 1960s comic books.
The treasures among the trash included a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man and one of the most valuable Silver Age comic books. There is a video of Nezhoda in a hazmat suit, working his way through many comic books and other valuable collectibles—and some other artifacts of a hoarder house. “There were also rats and rat poop,” Rene said. “I’ve bought a lot of collections and houses in my life, and I have never been overwhelmed, but this house makes me overwhelmed.”
3 The $3.5 Million Closet Find
In 2011, Heritage Auctions put up for sale an incredible collection of 345 vintage comic books that ended up selling for $3.5 million. Amazingly, they had only been recently unearthed from a closet, where they had sat for decades. After the death of his great-aunt, Michael Rorrer of Oxnard, California, traveled to her Virginia home to help settle her affairs. It was there, in a basement closet, that he found the long-forgotten comics.
Among the collection were several key issues, including Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, and Batman #1. They had originally belonged to his great-uncle, Billy Wright, who originally bought them over a nine-year period. So impressive was this batch of comics that CGC made it one of the newest additions to its distinguished Pedigree Collection list. The Billy Wright Pedigree is a potent reminder to always check basements and closets for any treasures that may be hiding in your family’s homes.
2 Batman in the Attic
For most homeowners, the prospect of bats in the attic would be a big problem. But when the bat in question is the iconic Batman, in his rare and extremely valuable first appearance, it’s a reason for celebration. In 2007, a Pennsylvania man was cleaning out his attic when he stumbled upon a near-mint copy of Detective Comics #27, the comic that introduced the Caped Crusader to the world. He then sold the book to Todd McDevitt, the owner of New Dimension Comics.
McDevitt said he had been saving up since 1986 for when a really rare and valuable comic came through his shop. Reports following the 2007 sale said McDevitt was keeping his enviable find in a bank vault. It’s unknown if he has since sold it, but with copies of Detective #27 now going for as much as $1.5 million, it wouldn’t be surprising if he had put it up for auction since then.
1 The Promise Collection
The newest CGC Pedigree Collection is one of the largest, with over 5,000 Golden Age comics. It also has one of the most touching origin stories. It concerns a pair of anonymous brothers, known only as Robert and Junie. In the early 1950s, Robert was drafted into the Army to fight in Korea. Junie, his younger brother, soon followed and enlisted in the Army as well. Junie asked his brother for one thing—that if he didn’t make it home, he wanted Robert to take care of his comic book collections. Robert promised that he would. Sadly, Junie was killed in combat at age 21. Robert kept his promise, boxing up all the comics and storing them in the attic of their family home. And there they were forgotten about.
Nearly seven decades later, the comics were rediscovered in the attic. Realizing the enormity of Junie’s collection, the family transferred them to protective plastic bags while creating a catalog of its contents in a spreadsheet. In honor of Robert’s vow to his brother, CGC gave the pedigree the Promise Collection name. In 2021, some of the collection started to make it to the auction market, with the phenomenal condition of nearly all the books attracting major attention from collectors.