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$100,000 Garage Sale: Henschel Pedigree Collection Auctioned

by  in Comic News Comment

WICHITA, Kan. — For one day only, the Air Capitol of the world became the Comic Book Capitol of the world.

Collectors from as far away as New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida flocked to a sleepy house on a dirt road in South Wichita, all to view the recently discovered Henschel Pedigree collection. Over 400 comic books from the late 1930s and early- to mid-1940s were recently discovered in bags under beds at Irene Ford Henschel’s home. The comics originally belonged to her late husband, Robert Ford, who died in 1999 at age 75, three months before their 50th wedding anniversary.

For this auction, the first of two, 121 comics were sold, fetching prices as high as $4,100 for a fine copy of “Action Comics” #23. Over $100,000 in comics were sold (most of the books can be viewed here.). Titles ranged from “Action Comics,” “Batman” and “Flash Comics” to “Jungle Comics” and “Famous Funnies.”

Yes, over $100,000 was netted for Mrs. Henschel on the sale of her late husband’s books. Not bad, considering she told the Wichita Eagle that her only hope was to be able to buy a red pickup truck with the money.

“I instantly knew we had something special,” said Conrad Swenson, auctioneer and the person to find the comics. “We do auctions all across the country, and once in a while we sell one or two comics, and they’ll go for $100, $200. Within the hour I got my digital camera and posted them on our Web site. Within two hours I’m getting dealers calling me from all over the country. I was getting 40 to 50 calls a day at one point.”


A local comic store owner was called in to consult on the grades and values of the books. He immediately advised them to not auction off the collection too hastily, that the books — including a copy of “Superman” #1 that did not go on sale — were too valuable and they needed more time to properly grade and advertise the auction. But Swenson Auctions felt obligated to sell at least some of the comics since it had already advertised the books on their Web site.

“What I didn’t realize,” Swenson said with a smile, “was that the next 300 comics are the ‘good ones.’ The books we’re auctioning today are the cheap ones.”

Swenson wouldn’t elaborate on what books were left in the collection but did say the copy of “Superman” #1 has an unfortunate rip on the front cover. Besides that, he wasn’t sure what other titles would be available but did say they planned to get many of the books CGC graded before the next auction, to take place sometime this fall near the Wichita airport.

“For what little notice we gave, we’ve had an amazing turnout,” said Don Howell, auctioneer. “There’s going to be a full range of prices here today. We had dealers come in last night just to inspect the conditions of the books.”

Indeed, it’s rare to see copies of “Batman” #3, “Superman” #3, “Captain Marvel” #1 and a very fine copy of “Detective Comics” #65 stored in oversized Ziplock sandwich bags on wood tables in a garage. But Swenson Auctions certainly had one thing right — there were more security guards then at a 50 Cent concert. Attendees to the auction had to wait in line before they could enter the rickety garage. Once in the garage, the only thing being ogled harder than the comics were the bidders, by plain clothes and on-duty police.


Over 100 people attended the auction, including absentee bidders by phone. A few young comic fans sat in the front row, hoping to get a deal on a golden age treasure. The sound of their young hearts breaking was almost audible as the third comic on the block went for $4,100, well out of the price range of casual collectors.

Absentee bidder No. 98 — rumored by bidders to be Steve Geppi, owner of Diamond Comics Distributors and part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles — overwhelmed the auction, acquiring two-thirds of the comics on the block.

“Just think, if it wasn’t for the Internet and Swensonauction.com, we’d never had been able to get the word out to so many people,” Howell told the bidders midway through the auction. “The Internet is great, isn’t it?”

Comic Issue # Grade Price
Ace Comics 42 VG+ $60
Action Comics 14 G+ $1,200
Action Comics 20 F- $1,300
Action Comics 21 VG+ $1,200
Action Comics 22 F  
Action Comics 23 F- $4,100
Action Comics 24 VG- $600
Action Comics 26 G+  
Action Comics 29 F $1,100
Action Comics 31 F $1,200
Adventure Comics 44 VG+ $2,900
Adventure Comics 47 G+ $1,000
Adventure Comics 49 F $1,800
Adventure Comics 51 VG+ $2,200
Air Fighter Comics 10 VF $550
All Star Comics 2 VG $800
Amazing-Man Comics 17 VG $220
America’s Greatest Comics 4 F $550
Batman 3 F $3,000
Batman 14 VG+ $1,000
Big Shot Comics 1 VG $650
Big Shot Comics 1 VF $1,400
BlueBolt 3 VF- $325
BlueBolt 5 VG  
BlueBolt 6 VF $800
BlueBolt 9 G+  
BlueBolt (Vol. 2) 2 F+ $210
BlueBolt (Vol. 2) 4 G+ $85
Captain America Comics 5 VG+ $1,800
Catman 4 VG $375
Crack Comics 15 F $225
Crack Comics 24 F $225
Crack Comics 25 VF $600
Captain Marvel (loose cover) 1 G $3,000
Detective Comics 47 VG $1,200
Detective Comics 48 F- $1,200
Detective Comics 49 F+ $1,600
Detective Comics 65 VF- $3,600
Detective Comics 66 VF $2,700
Detective Comics 67 F+ $1,500
Famous Funnies 15 Poor $40
Famous Funnies 27 Poor $40
Famous Funnies 50 G $35
Famous Funnies 55 Poor $10
Famous Funnies 70 VG $105
Famous Funnies 76 F+ $85
Fantastic Comics 10 F+ $600
Flash Comics 7 F+ $3,000
Flash Comics 8 VF- $2,800
Flash Comics 9 VG $1,500
Flash Comics 14 VF+ $2,000
Flash Comics 16 G+  
Fun Comics 83 VG+ $100
Heroic Comics 4 F $410
Heroic Comics 8 F+ $350
Jungle Comics 1 VG $500
Jungle Comics 2 F+ $1,000
Jungle Comics 3 F+ $400
Jungle Comics 4 VG+ $300
Jungle Comics 5 G+ $200
Jungle Comics 9 G+ $240
Jungle Comics 10 F+ $475
Jungle Comics 11 G+ $95
Jungle Comics 14 VF $400
Magic Comics 5 G $50
Magic Comics 6 VG $80
Miltary Comics 14 VF $600
More Fun Comics 24 G $210
Mr. And Mrs. Beans 1 F- $270
National Comics 6 VG+ $600
Nickel Comics 8 F $500
Pep Comics 6 F $550
Pep Comics 8 VF $900
Popular Comics 78 F+ $290
Prize Comics 4 VF-  
Real Life 1 VF $165
Red Rider 1 VG+ $1,150
Science Comics 8 F $425
Sky Blazers 2 VG $150
Smash Comics 6 F  
Smash Comics 9 VG $175
Smash Comics 10 VG $125
Special Edition Captain Marvel 1 VG+ $3,000
Speed Comics 16 Poor  
Star Spagnled 14 VF- $800
Super Comics 21 VG $80
Superman 3 F $3,200
Superman 6 F+ $3,200
Superman 7 F+ $1,000
Superman 9 F+ $2,100
Sure-Fire 3 F $220
Target Comics 1 G $500
Target Comics 7 G+ $1,800
Target Comics (Vol. 2) 11 F+ $850
True Comics 13 G+ $25
The Comics 5 F $220
The Doll Man 3 F+ $1,200
The Flame 1 VG+ $600
The Funnies 44 VG $300
The Funnies 46 F+ $400
The Funnies 52 VF $300
The Funnies 50 VG+ $210
The Funnies 58 F+ $550
The Funnies 60 VF $650
Tip Top 46 Fair $25
Uncle Sam Quarterly 3 G $130
Whiz Comics 2 VG- $1,100
Whiz Comics 3 F- $3,300
Whiz Comics 4 VG $1,000
Whiz Comics 6 VF+ $1,700
Whiz Comics 7 VG+ $600
Whiz Comics 8 VF+ $2,000
Wings Comics 11 VF $400
Wings Comics 17 VF $110
Wings Comics 19 F $160
Wings Comics 21 VF $200
Wonderworld Comics 11 G $275
Zip Comics 8 F+ $900