What? Your Mom threw away all your old comic books? It’s a lament we sometimes hear from our private appraisal clients. The “victims” of Mom’s housecleaning usually feel they have lost a potential fortune. That’s not necessarily true, as you’ll read here in our review of an Archie comic from 1946.
Q. Here’s one of the comic books I had when I was younger. I know some can be valuable. Am I lucky to have this one? — John in Kennewick
A. Archie Andrews, now a 70-plus-year-old perennial teenager, first appeared on the American comic book scene in 1941.
That single first Archie issue has a very high value — in mint condition.
Unfortunately, most collectors don’t have mint condition comic books. They were meant to be read — and read they were. Thumbed through, thrown across the bedroom toward the chest of drawers, tossed under the bed, the average comic book in a kid’s hands led a pretty tough life.
That is why there are so few pristine examples around today. And comics is a field where rarity and condition — immaculate condition, please — leads to value.
The most valuable Archie comic book ever known to have been sold went for more than $140,000. That’s right — $140,000!
Archie made his first appearance in a comic book in 1941, in the issue “Pep No. 2”; that’s the one which made the big money.
Archie has appeared in thousands of comics since then, in a large number of different series. Included in the list is Pep — like John’s No. 269 that we are reviewing here. But there are also Archie, Archie & Friends, Betty and Veronica, Archie’s Super Hero Special and on and on.
Even though this comic book is only five years removed from Archie’s debut, the value is quite low. In mint condition, this number might sell for as much as $18. Unfortunately, John’s comic has the wear and tear normally seen and would be graded in “good” condition (at best), with a value of $2.
Q. I’ve always wondered about this small combination thermometer and barometer. Have you seen these before? What can you tell me? — John in Kennewick
A. These were mostly advertising giveaways from various companies and stores back about 1910. This example, however, is marked with a brand of the company that made and distributed them — Cottage.
Made of wood, it measures nearly 9 inches long and about 3 inches wide. The background is a lithographed insert that has the thermometer attached on the left side and the barometer (also called a “storm glass”) on the right. Not much is known about the Dorfmann Brothers Company of Corona, Queens, N.Y. — that made these “Cottage” branded items.
We’ve seen them without the “Cottage” name — with advertising in that space for everything from Franklin Mills Wheatlet breakfast cereal to a local coal company.
Values can be low or high, depending on condition and what any advertising is for.
In rough condition, one that has no advertising can sell for as little as $25. In excellent condition and with advertising for a company like Cream of Wheat, these can sell in the $150 to $300 range.
Terry K. Maurer, Tri–Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What’s It Worth? by email to tchwhatsitworth@ gmail.com.