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Henschel Auction racks up $190,000

by  in Comic News Comment
Henschel Auction racks up $190,000

Sweet little Irene Henschel walked around the Wichita Airport Hilton, smiling, welcoming visitors to the auction of her late husband’s comics.

She didn’t get why people were so worked up about these little funny books — now encased in plastic. Her and her second husband, Fred, were church people, she said, and all the money they were expected to fetch didn’t really have much of an effect on her.

Almost $200,000 later, and her demeanor still hadn’t changed.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” she asked.

About 50 comic fans were in attendance at the hotel in hopes of buying one of the Henschel Pedigree Collection comics found under Irene and Fred’s bed earlier this year. A more ominous group of 10 sat along a wall, cellular phones in hand. These were the comic dealers attending via a tenuous cellular phone connection and bidding through a third party. Baltimore Orioles part owner and Diamond Comics Distributors owner Steve Geppi’s man had a ringside seat. Across from them was Ryan Iwansky, of Proxibid.com. He represented the 45 live bidders via an Internet connection.


With all the players in place and ready to go, the auction was underway. The first comic out of the blocks, an issue of “Action Comics” #15 graded at 6.5 brought in $2,600. Four hours later, the auction would be over, with comics selling for as much as $42,000 (“Flash Comics” #1, CGC graded at 6.5) and as low as $30 (“Ace Comics” #23, CGC graded at 2.0).

While Geppi dominated the last auction, this one was much more even-handed, with no buyer nabbing more than a third of the collection. The early hit of the auction was a CGC 2.0 copy of “Superman” #2 that sold for $1,150. Lot number 27 was the first comic to have a winning bidder that was in person at the auction, much to the appreciation of the bidders on-hand.

The biggest moment was, of course, the sale of “Flash Comics” #1. After the book reached into the $30,000 range, auctioneers and Swenson auction employees started swarming around the book like fruit flies. The $1,000 increment bids were between Geppi and an on-line bidder in California. The on-line bidder won out with authority, quickly raising his opponent with every bid.

“It was pretty overwhelming,” said Iwansky, who was making bids for the on-line bidder. “I have a light on my screen, and I can tell when his mouse is on the bid button… he didn’t stray very far from that button.”

With all the different parties, some technical difficulties had to be expected. The most frequent problem: dropped cell phone calls. The moment a big bidder lost his signal, the whole auction screeched to a halt.


At one point, with a phone bidder’s cellular phone down, the auction took about a five minute break right in the middle of a pricey book’s sale. As auctioneer Rex Childs strolled the floor waiting for the action to pick back up, he asked a buyer if he would bid against the absent phone bidder, and raise the price of a book up to $4,000.

“I might have to if someone doesn’t get him back on the line soon,” the buyer joked.

With people volunteering their own cell phones just to get the action started back up again, the phone bidder was finally reconnected and the auction resumed.

Ryan Gomez, of Mulvane, Kan., said that while the big books all were snatched up by phone bidders and on-line participants, there were still some decent books to be had by the small group of collectors attending in person.

“There were about six or seven of us there at the end that were duking it out for the low end books,” Gomez said. Gomez walked away from the auction with an issue of “Popular Comics” #84 graded at 5.5 that sold for $60. “I was happy with my purchase. There were some guys willing to drop $60 for a book with talking ducks on the cover, but at least I managed to get something that represented World War II and the mood in this country at the time.”

Gomez said the book he really wanted, “War Comics” #4, was ran up to three times the guide price — to $180 — by he and another collector before he relented. “These things, you just get competitive, and it becomes more about winning the fight then it does the actual value of the comic.”


Mark Brown, owner of Prairie Dog Comics in Wichita, was the first person to be called in when the collection was originally found. In fact, it was Brown that personally drove the collection to Florida to have it CGC graded.

“I’ve been dealing with this for six or seven months, more as a consultant than anything else,” Brown said. “Honestly, I’m just glad it’s all over.”

Brown did make some purchases, including an F+ issue of “Flash Comics” #7 from the last auction for $3,000. The books he bought were not for his own collection, but for re-sale purposes.

Brown said that for this part of the country, the Henschel collection was an amazing find.

“With other collections being so fragmented, it’s hard to put this one in perspective,” he said. “This is one of the better we’ll see for quite some time. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen so many #1s from an original owner before.”

Mrs. Henschel gave some insight to her husband’s collection before the auction when she stopped to chat with CBR News.

“When he was 14-years-old, Robert (Ford) lived in Flint, Mich. He worked for Western Union — when we were kids, everything came by Western Union. He would ride his bike to deliver telegrams, and once in a while he had to do singing telegrams. For a singing telegram, he’d usually get a two or three cent tip, and he’d save his money and go buy himself a couple of these comic books.”


As adults, it became Irene’s job to keep track of the comics.

“Robert (Ford) was an aeronautical engineer, so whenever he got a new job working on airplanes, he quickly moved and I would stay behind and pack things up,” she said. “We kept these in a box, always in the air conditioning, wherever we had room. Sometimes in a closet, sometimes under the bed. Once in a while he would get a few out and read them, and when time ran out he would put them away. He never let kids get into them, because he didn’t like them getting messed up.”

But did she ever just want to throw the silly things away?

“Oh, Heaven’s no, never. I would never do that to someone’s personal possessions.”

Back in April, Irene told the Wichita Eagle that she hoped to buy a red truck with the money made from the auction. Now, after the total collection has grossed almost $300,000, she still hasn’t bought the truck. But they are “currently in negotiations,” she said. When asked what she would do after they had the truck, Irene once again displayed her Midwestern charm.

“Robert died of Alzheimer’s,” Irene says. “We’re going to support the Alzheimer’s walk very generously. That’s very important to me.”

Lot Title Issue CGC

Grade

Price
1 Action Comics 15 6.5 $2,600
2 Flash Comics 13 5 $500
3 Flash Comics 4 7 $1,700
4 Flash Comics 2 3.5 $1,050
5 Flash Comics 6 6 $1,400
6 Detective Comics 43 8 $2,100
7 Detective Comics 44 8 $2,000
8 All American Comics 21 8.5 $2,800
9 Detective Comics 53 9 $2,400
10 Detective Comics 54 9.2 $3,100
11 Detective Comics 32 7.5 $6,500
12 Detective Comics 40 4.5 $1,400
13 Detective Comics 46 8 $1,700
14 Action Comics 27 7 $1,100
15 Action Comics 28 8 $2,200
16 Action Comics 29 6.5 $1,100
17 Flash Comics 21 9.4 $4,500
18 Action Comics 12 1 $450
19 Superman 4 8 $6,500
20 Police Comics 6 9.2 $2,100
21 Wings Comics 1 8.5 $2,300
22 Flash Comics 10 9 $3,600
23 Planet Comics 2 7 $1,800
24 Nickel Comics 1 5.5 $850
25 Nickel Comics 1 6 $950
26 Superman 5 7 $2,550
27 Superman 2 2 $1,150
28 More Fun Comics 54 5.5 $3,500
29 Action Comics 19 7 $2,550
30 More Fun Comics 62 7 $1,250
31 National Comics 1 5 $1,000
32 Action Comics 13 1 $1,000
33 Action Comics 33 5.5 $600
34 Action Comics 14 3.5 $750
35 All Star Comics 1 7.5 $7,100
36 Skyman 1 7 $380
37 Whiz Comics 9 7.5 *
38 Flash Comics 5 3 $410
39 Hit Comics 24 7 $370
40 More Fun Comics 57 6 $1,500
41 Military Comics 3 6 $650
42 All American Comics 15 6 $340
43 National Comics 3 6.5 $650
44 Police Comics 15 8.5 $475
45 Detective Comics 41 4 $575
46 Detective Comics 43 6 *
47 Police Comics 12 5.5 $270
48 All American Comics 14 8 $700
49 All Flash Quarterly 6 6.5 $325
50 All Flash Quarterly 1 7.5 $7,300
51 National Comics 4 7 $550
52 More Fun Comics 48 5 $500
53 National Comics 5 7 $650
54 Superman 14 5 $1,200
55 Nickel Comics 6 8.5 $550
56 Whiz Comics 11 8.5 $775
57 More Fun Comics 62 3.5 $400
58 Planet Comics 11 6 $600
59 Police Comics 13 6.5 $350
60 Pep Comics 12 7.5 $650
61 Whiz Comics 5 0.5 $85
62 Target Comics 5 5 $800
63 Startling Comics 1 6 $750
64 Smash Comics 7 2 $60
65 Smash Comics 8 2.5 $80
66 Planet Comics 3 6.5 $1,100
67 Nickel Comics 5 3.5 $110
68 Smash Comics 14 4.5 $500
69 Nickel Comics 4 6 $225
70 Thrilling Comics 1 7.5 $1,050
71 Nickel Comics 7 7.5 $400
72 Target Comics 6 3 $150
73 Smash Comics 4 5.5 $110
74 Zip Comics 9 4.5 $275
75 More Fun Comics 55 7 $7,900
76 Sure Fire Comics 3 7.5 $400
77 Wings Comics 1 4 $375
78 Planet Comics 9 8.5 $1,800
79 Smash Comics 6 6 $170
80 Smash Comics 3 6.5 $210
81 Sub Mariner 6 4 $700
82 Planet Comics 2 4 $750
83 Thrilling Comics 1 6.5 $1,050
84 Jungle Comics 7 7 $525
85 Hit Comics 1 6.5 $2,300
86 Buck Rogers 3 8 $630
87 Blue Bolt 2 5 $350
88 Fight Comics 1 6 $810
89 Nickel Comics 3 6 $280
90 Military Comics 10 6.5 $375
91 The Funnies 51 5 $80
92 Buck Rogers 1 4.5 $640
93 Buck Rogers 2 8 $750
94 Nickel Comics 2 5.5 $350
95 National Comics 26 5 $200
96 Military Comics 6 6 $320
97 Jumbo Comics 16 8.5 $725
98 Champion Comics 8 5.5 $400
99 National Comics 7 7 $2,000
100 Military Comics 1 7.5 $5,750
101 Jungle Comics 6 7.5 $410
102 Military Comics 5 6.5 $520
103 The Funnies 53 6 $110
104 The Funnies 43 6 $160
105 Military Comics 13 8 $525
106 War Comics 4 6 $180
107 Champion Comics 10 6 $450
108 USA Is Ready 1 6.5 $200
109 Target Comics Vol. 2 #4 7 $210
110 Startling Comics 2 5 $225
111 Thrilling Comics 4 2.5 $60
112 Tip Top Comics 42 4.5 $40
113 Uncle Sam Quarterly 4 5.5 $275
114 Thrilling Comics 6 6 $150
115 Smash Comics 13 5 $190
116 Popular Comics 66 9 $160
117 Target Comics V. 2 #1 4 $40
118 Tip Top Comics 77 7 $140
119 Thrilling Comics 18 6 $50
120 Popular Comics 67 5 $130
121 Super Magician 2 6 $100
122 Smash Comics 9 5 $100
123 Popular Comics 68 8 $80
124 Smash Comics 16 4 $200
125 Superman 1 0.5 $7,000
126 Popular Comics 79 7 $60
127 Target Comics V. 2 #2 1.8 $80
128 Thrilling Comics 5 6 $130
129 Popular Comics 84 5.5 $60
130 Target Comics V. 2 #7 5.5 $90
131 Target Comics V. 2 #9 6 $90
132 Ace Comics 21 6 $70
133 Blue Bolt V. 3 #6 8 $100
134 Famous Funnies 73 7.5 $100
135 Famous Funnies 71 3.5 $50
136 Jumbo Comics 16 7 $425
137 Ace Comics 67 8 $70
138 Blue Bolt 2 3.5 $310
139 Target Comics V. 2 #8 7.5 $350
140 Wings Comics 14 5 $145
141 Big Shot Comics 16 6 $120
142 Blue Bolt V. 3 #8 9 $110
143 Crackajack Funnies 17 3 $65
144 Thrilling Comics 15 8 $490
145 Ace Comics 35 7.5 $50
146 Ace Comics 39 6 $50
147 Ace Comics 40 5.5 $50
148 Blue Bolt 3 1.8 $100
149 Wings Comics 16 7 $250
150 Flash Comics 1 6.5 $42,000
151 Blue Bolt 4 4 $200
152 Blue Bolt V. 3 #4 8 $80
153 Wings Comics 10 5.5 $150
154 Famous Funnies 48 4.5 $40
155 Famous Funnies 52 4.5 $40
156 Zip Comics 12 4.5 $130
157 Comics on Parade 22 3 $35
158 Ace Comics 23 2 $30
159 Famous Funnies 72 5.5 $40
160 Mutt & Jeff No # 0.5 $75
161 Whiz Comics 11 4 *
162 Wonder World 11 2.5 $175
163 Feature Book 28 4 $30
164 Fight Comics 6 6.5 $180
165 Famous Funnies 77 6 $50
166 Famous Funnies 75 6.5 $90
167 Famous Funnies 84 5 $35
168 Popular Comics 57 5.5 $65
169 Magic Comics 37 6.5 $65
170 Mystery Men Comics 12 2 $95
171 Jumbo Comics 16 4.5 $190
172 The Funnies 35 4 $80
173 Fight Comics 4 2 $100
174 Famous Funnies 74 6 $45
175 Famous Funnies 86 6 $75
176 Famous Funnies 88 7 $50
177 Famous Funnies 100 8 $110
178 Popular Comics 46 4.5 $60
179 Popular Comics 47 5 $50
180 Popular Comics 50 4.5 $40
181 Popular Comics 51 4.5 $45
182 Popular Comics 52 6 $80
183 Popular Comics 54 7 $95
184 Popular Comics 55 4.5 $40
185 Popular Comics 56 5.5 $60
$193,700
* price could not be confirmed