Comic Book Postal Auctions

Comic Book Postal Auctions Limited -- The Beginning

Some years ago a fellow comics collector had tried every avenue to sell his collection, which consisted of over 12,000 American and British comics, original artwork and TV related merchandise.

After sending lists to comic shops, approaching dealers and putting small ads in various periodicals and local newspapers, the results were disappointing. Most people wanted to "cherry-pick" a small number of desirable items, showing no interest in the rest, and a few made derisory offers for the whole lot. When we came to discuss this, I told him I'd had a similar reaction to a much smaller collection of my own. All perhaps understandable given the financial climate in early 1992.

Some weeks later I came up with an idea to try and reach our target audience directly -- we would list the comics in affordable lots and attempt to sell them in the form of a postal auction catalogue. Having nothing to lose, my friend agreed and I set about putting the catalogue together with a few black and white photographs (taken up against our white bathroom wall) and a bidding form in the back which potential customers could detach and send in with their bids before the closing date.We printed 300 copies, did some small ads, and sat back with everything crossed.

Three weeks later, we were frantically packing boxes in my friend's basement, and waiting in line at the Post Office with parcels up to the ceiling. Comic Book Postal Auctions first catalogue had been a huge success, selling more than 80% of the lots offered, and we were on our way. Over the following five catalogues we offered the balance of the collection and managed to sell the lot!

What I did not expect was the volume of other collections which came our way from up and down the U.K., and especially from Scotland and Wales. We obviously touched a nerve with people who had encountered the same selling problems as ourselves.

Sixteen years on, we produce a 32 page colour catalogue with over 3500 customers worldwide, and we are on the Internet, as you can see! In the last few years the publicity that surrounded the record prices we achieved for comics, annuals and artwork has helped us considerably, raising the profile of comics generally, and of our company specifically.

As you may imagine, an enormous amount of work goes into the classification and grading of each comic we accept for auction, and given the time and effort involved, it is just as well we enjoy it! The fun part is our customers. Hearing the stories of how they acquired their comics is sometimes stranger than the fiction within the pages. Here are a couple of our favourites:

The small boy who worked in his uncle's toyshop in Paisley (near Glasgow, Scotland) during the school holidays, getting extra pocket money and a Dandy Annual at Christmas, since kept in a filing cabinet for 57 years and recently sold by us for 2000 -- it was a first issue.

A Southampton lady cleaning out the attic and about to throw out 40 dog-eared copies of the wartime Daily Mirror, only to find 40 copies of Film Fun, each one lodged between the centre pages in pristine condition, sold to an American collector for 30 each.

Just two stories amongst many; I can only speculate about what else is out there. Now where did you leave that stepladder?

Malcolm Phillips
Comic Book Auctions Ltd.