Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2016 Issue

Yet Another Book Theft – This Time $200,000 Worth of Comics

969524b3-9bb5-45ba-a737-7365ed292cc8

Not on the case – the Justice League (from DC Comics).

Another month, another book theft. The stories are distressingly repetitive. This month it is comic books, the books we collected as kids and our mothers threw away. They didn't understand. Actually, I don't understand how they became so valuable either, but they did. When a Superman comic can sell for over $2 million, we know that something unexpected happened in the intervening years since our youth.

 

This story comes from Macon, Georgia, where thieves broke into Comics Plus. It was reported that four masked men, appropriately enough for a comic book theft, broke into the store overnight using a crowbar. They cut the wires to the burglar alarm. They stole the safe and a bunch of comics. The safe contained $2,200 in cash. The comic books, according to owner Will Peavy, who was interviewed by local television station WMAZ, were worth $200,000. Based on their selection, the thieves knew which comics to take.

 

They stole runs of two 1960's comics. One was a run of the first eight issues of Justice League of America. The other was the first 20 issues of X-Men. The Justice League consisted of a combination of DC Comics superheroes, including Superman, Batman, the Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman. Combinations of superheroes are popular today, in film as well as print, so it is not surprising these early comics have become so valuable. Each of these runs could be worth something in the low six digits.

 

The superheroes will not help catch these criminals, but perhaps the criminals will do so themselves. Mr. Peavy noted that the comics had been graded and have serial numbers. Unlike regular books, where grading is done in a small number of broad, somewhat vague categories, based on the beliefs of the individual seller, comic books have a wide range of finely tuned classifications, issued by professional rating agencies. Selling such comics requires expert evaluation of condition, as these slight differences to the unknowing eye can mean substantial variances in value. An attempt to sell these comics to area dealers or collectors, or to sell them on a site like eBay, may well lead to recognition the thieves aren't anticipating.

 

In another, more tragic comic book theft case, Arlene Combs, 31, of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ms. Combs, an associate of mastermind Rico Vendetti, conspired to hire three men to steal the comic book collection of 78-year-old Homer Marciniak of Medina. Marciniak was not a wealthy collector but a regular working man who had collected comic books most of his life. The three men were to paid $1,000 each for their trouble. Ms. Combs was the go-between for Vendetti and the other thieves.

 

In the early morning hours of July 5, 2010, the three broke into Marciniak's home. Unfortunately, he woke up and came out to see what was going on. One of the three punched Marciniak in the face and tied him up. After they left, comic book collection and other goods in hand, Marciniak managed to free himself. He was taken to the hospital, treated and released. However, later that day, he suffered a massive heart attack and died shortly thereafter. It was determined that the trauma of the event, plus the punch, led to his heart attack. An ordinary theft had turned into murder. That is why her sentence was so severe, and why the others either have received serious sentences or can expect to receive one when their turns come around shortly.

 

Commenting on the case, U. S. Attorney William Hochul stated, "This case, which began with greed, ended in the murder of a senior citizen. As this sentence demonstrates, law enforcement will be relentless in pursuing each and every person responsible for Mr. Marciniak’s [death]."

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions