Jon Berk Collection Session 1 Comic And Art Auction Highlights: Winning The Planet

Session 2 is getting underway as I type this, and as I hear the sound of comic collectors across the land rounding up all the extra nickels and dimes they can find, let's take a look at some of the auction highlights from last night at Comic Connect's Jon Berk Collection Session 1.  Session 1 included Original Artwork and comics from A-1 Comics to Amazing Spider-Man.

Planet Comics #1 original cover art by Lou Fine - Jon Berk Collection Session 1 Auction

Jon Berk Collection Session 1 Artwork

The original art highlight of Jon Berk Collection Session 1 has got to be the sale of the original cover art from Planet Comics #1 (Fiction House, 1940) by Lou Fine for $146,444.00. Aside from the size of the number, there's a couple reasons this is important:

  1. Conventional wisdom says mainstream visibility drives numbers at the top end.  But while Planet Comics is considered a classic among vintage collectors, among the mainstream modern audience… not so much (but it should be!).
  2. There's another bit of regularly-debated conventional wisdom in the original art field that goes a little like this: displaying your rare art publicly (even posting it on message boards and image galleries) makes it seem more familiar, less rare, and not "fresh to market", and all of that plays into value.  This is… understandable, or at least certain parts of it are (there's a reason people tell those "found in grandpa's attic!" stories on ebay. Sometimes a good backstory works), but it's also a bitter pill to swallow, as many collectors looooove to show off their stuff, and there's a good argument to be made that you're not honoring the creator you're a huge fan of by locking his art away in a drawer somewhere, for no one to see.  But I've seen Jon Berk show the scan of this cover to countless collectors over the years, for everyone to admire.  I doubt that hurt the hammer price a single penny.  I think arguably, it did the opposite.

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Action Comics #1 CGC 5.5 Conserved - Jon Berk Collection Session 1

Jon Berk Collection Session 1 A-1 Comics to Amazing Spider-Man

Posting about Action Comics #1 sales never gets old.  I've discussed numerous Action Comics #1 sales here on BC over the years, and the Jon Berk Collection Session 1 sale of an Action Comics #1 CGC 5.5 Conserved for $393,000.00 is singularly interesting.  The notion of restoration and its impact on comic values has been a controversial and difficult-to-understand issue for decades.  Because of that, collectors have often been extremely reluctant to have comics professionally restored, even when that 'restoration' is restricted to the realm of conserving the comic to extend its lifespan.

In 2014, CGC revamped its restoration scale and introduced a "Conserved" label, which they describe as:

Specific repairs done to improve the structural integrity and long-term preservation of a comic book will now be classified as "conservation" and designated with a blue / purple label. These repairs include tear seals, support, staple replacement, piece reattachment and certain kinds of cleaning.

Because all conservation repairs must be professionally done and slight in nature (A-1), the label will simply say "Conservation" with no designation of quality or quantity on the label.

$393,000.00 is a very big number for a comic that's not in a Blue Label (unrestored or unconserved), even for an Action Comics #1. By comparison, an unrestored Action Comics #1 in a comparable CGC 5.5 Blue Label sold for $956,000 last year.

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Well, I'm already hearing about some impressive numbers in the early going of Session 2 from winners and losers tonight, so good luck to everyone through the rest of the evening.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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