Collecting Comic Books
Those comic books you once stored in a box under the bed -- until your mother threw them out
-- might have become as valuable as a collection of rare coins. Comic books can prove to be a
great investment if you take time to learn why their values rise and which ones are rare and
which ones are in great condition.
It can require a lot of research, attendance at comic book shows and time looking at those
considered in the best condition and those considered to be in poor condition. Check the Comic
Book Price Guide.
Any of the 27 issues of Amazing Man could command a price of $100 to $200. The No. 1 issue,
in perfect condition, is selling in the many thousands, according to The Comic Price Guide.
Although Amazing Man is a relatively rare comic book, rarity is not always a barometer for
judging whether a particular comic book is worth the investment.
Experts recommend that you stick to the well-known characters like the super heroes. If you
select comics that are in the mainstream and in great condition you can't go wrong. If a comic
is obscure there may be more risks to you as an investment.
Investors should not only study what's in demand but also have the kind of knowledge of the
industry and readers' tastes to anticipate which recently published comic books will be
valuable in the future. Like anything else, you can make a bad investment.
Comic book dealers say the most important consideration in making an investment is the
condition of the book. This should be your main consideration. For instance, a comic book in
perfect condition with pages that are still white and not brittle can be worth $600. If the
same comic book has wrinkles, folds and is discolored the value will quickly drop to $100. If it
has missing pages and is damaged by water it can be worth only a dime.
Although most comic books in demand from collectors are in the $50 to $100 range, there are
some comics that have reached prices once reserved for works of art or rare 19th century
coins. They are worth learning about and they are very much worth collecting.
Collectible figurines come in many styles, types and values. If the figurine
is rare, it can become very valuable. Of course, it must be in pristine
condition. Some collectors focus on Disney collectibles such as Mickey,
Minnie, Tinkerbell or Donald Duck. Others prefer angels, animals and
dolls. Prices can range from $20 to many hundreds of dollars.
1920s German Hertwig Skating Snow Babies
Of all the Christmas antiques, perhaps none bring a smile to our faces as readily as the
diminutive snowsuit-clad children frolicking in the snow. Little
more than thumb-size, these bisque snow babies are beloved by
figurine collectors today.
Snow babies--so called for the snow-like grout covering them--evolved from the sugar dolls, or
zucker puppen, early-nineteenth-century German housewives made as Christmas decorations or
children's treats. Confectioners began creating similar figures from marzipan to use as cake
decorations, and in the early 1890s the German confectioner Johann Moll of Lubeck
commissioned the porcelain manufactory Hertwig and Company to create permanent bisque
figures. To create these reusable cake toppers, hand-whipped liquid bisque was poured into
mold and left to harden. Then the piece was removed and slip containing finely crushed pieces
of bisque was poured over it to give the appearance of snow. The piece was then fired and
painted. Soon other porcelain factories were turning out snow babies. Since they were for
domestic use only, the figures were not stamped with the country of origin; later in the 1900s,
when the snow babies were exported, their undersides were marked "Germany."
Dating Snow Babies
Dates or maker's marks on snow babies are rare, but knowledgeable collectors use World War
I as a benchmark in determining the date of manufacture. Before the war, snow babies were
imported only from Germany, ranged in size from 5 to 7 inches, and were notable for their
fine detail, especially their beautifully painted faces. Germany had long been renowned for the
quality of its porcelain dolls, and this artistry was evident even in these miniature figures. The
snow babies were typically all white with "snow," but if color was used it was a pastel blue,
pink, or yellow. Snow baby production was halted during the war when all German factories
were employed in the war effort. The figures produced after the war were smaller--usually 1
to 3 inches--and more animated. They rode cars, polar bears, reindeer, airplanes, and trains,
played in bands, swung on swings, and made snowmen. When color was used, it was a primary
hue. The paint on these later snow babies did not bond well and is subject to flaking because
the figures were fired at low temperatures or not at all.
After the war, the Japanese began copying the German snow babies. Despite their crude
decoration and modeling, the Japanese snow babies found a ready market because of the
anti-German sentiment after the war. The best way to distinguish between the two is to
carefully study the faces of a German- and Japanese-made snow baby, Vines says. Those made
in Japan lack the quality workmanship and fine painted details that make the German ones a
favorite with collectors.
Value of Snow Babies
Snow babies were popular from about 1900 to 1930 in both England and America. What cost 10
to 60 cents then can command hundreds of dollars today; the best places to find them are flea
markets, auctions, and antiques dealers. The German-made snow babies are the most
desirable, and they are priced accordingly. The "tumblers"--those that are sitting, standing,
rolling, or reclining on their sides--can be about $40, while the more animated figures can
range in the hundreds of dollars. More unusual pieces can run thousands of dollars. Vines
recommends buying only examples in mint condition that require no cleaning and warns against
the temptation to wash these babies: She knows of cases where the painted faces carne off
Types of Snow Babies
The tiny all-white snow babies were not the only figures produced by the German porcelain
manufacturers; polar bears and penguins were made as well as red-coated Santas, elves, and
Polar bears are the most common animal, while penguins are among the rarest forms produced.
Santa was also a favorite, and he can be found traveling on Christmas eve via airplane, train,
automobile, boat, stagecoach, and even astride an elephant, camel, donkey, polar bear, or
reindeer. Once at his destination you can find him coming down the chimney, unpacking his bag,
and looking in on slumbering children in their beds and cradles. Like snow babies, Santas are
popular with collectors and are harder to find and more expensive than dwarfs and elves. In
Scandinavian countries these wee folk are Father Christmas's representatives, bringing
presents to the children. Santa can be distinguished by his full beard and full-length coat
usually trimmed in fur. The dwarfs are bearded, while elves are clean-shaven.
Buildings, such as schoolhouses, churches, and two-story houses, were also produced for use in
winter scenes. Today these are hard to find and as a result highly collectible.
See link above for more detail on other types of collectible figurines.
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Collectible Comic Books