Research, grading important first steps for successful comic book auctions

With the burgeoning interest in comic book heroes, comic book conventions and comic book collecting, it may be only a matter of time before someone approaches you with boxes of books they want to convert to cash.

If you’re like many Auctioneers, you’ll have no idea what you’re getting into.

That was the case in 2009 when Rob S. Weiman, CAI, AARE, CES, of Mound City Auctions, Hazelwood, Mo., got a call from a man who inherited his aunt’s house and all of its contents, including 3,000 comic books.

Weiman, who mostly conducts estate auctions, was no comic book expert. But as a former aerospace engineer, he had an extensive computer background and had the wherewithal to consult the website of Heritage Auctions, a Dallas-based firm that bills itself as “the world’s largest collectibles Auctioneer.”

When he found that one of the books he picked at random from his client’s collection — “Showcase No. 22, the first appearance of The Green Lantern” — had sold for $16,000, he called in his son, Rob M. Weiman, CAI, CES.

“I’m kind of the company geek,” the younger Weiman says. His jaw dropped when he saw titles like “Avengers No. 1,” “Aquaman No. 1” and several other treasures.

“I’m finding copies of books I never thought I would see,” he says. “I knew what they were potentially worth.”

While Dad wanted to sell the collection at a local auction and be done with it, his son had other ideas.

After some discussion, he persuaded his dad to pay to have the most valuable books graded by Certified Guaranty Co. (CGC) in Sarasota, Fla. The firm rates comic books on a scale of 1 to 10 based on condition and other factors, much like one would grade a coin collection.

He packaged each of the books in a plastic sleeve together with a backing board to protect it from damage and to make a better presentation for potential bidders.

He then designed a comic book-style flyer, which he passed out to high-level dealers at a major comic book convention in Chicago to let potential bidders know about the upcoming auction.

He also advertised the event on the CGC collectors’ online bulletin board and ran a Google AdWords campaign, the cost of which he kept to a minimum by using “long-tail search terms” that prompted 3,700 specifically targeted clicks for $600.

In all, the company spent $70,000 for grading and other expenses. The auction, which the company conducted live and streamed on two Internet auction platforms, brought in more than $1 million.

Pick up some tips and learn best practices for selling comic books in the October issue of Auctioneer.

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Filed under Auction Industry, Auction marketing, Auctioneer magazine, NAA Members

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