Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.
Reader Duane F. wrote in with a question that is a bit out of my typical line of knowledge, "I have near perfect copy of DC Batman #227. However the staples are off center about 1”. There are no staples or staple holes where they normally would be. I would appreciate any information you can give me on how this would affect the value of this comic."
This is actually an intriguing question among comic book collectors, Duane, and the fact of the matter is that there is no real clear answer as to what off center staples mean for the value of an otherwise "near mint" copy of a comic book.
As a general rule of thumb among collectors in the history of comic collecting, off center staples tend to lead to roughly a half of a point decrease in the condition of the comic book. For instance, let's say you had 9.6 condition comic book. Then the theory would be that an off center staple would knock that grade down to about a 9.0.
For instance, at Mile High Comics, Chuck Rozanski explains their standards for "Near Mint" comics and they specifically address the issue of off-center staples, noting, "Off-Center Printing: Only allowed if hardly noticeable." Well, obviously a inch is not hardly noticeable, right? So that would seem to suggest that that would be a problem.
However, and this is the fascinating thing where things have become very confusing, it does not appear as though Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), the most popular comic book grading company, actually DOES give you demerits for off center staples. For instance, check out this 9.8 Silver Surfer #14...
It's not as bad as what Duane describes his comic book as, but it's also pretty darn noticeable, right? And yet it received an almost perfect score. That certainly suggests that CGC does not place that high of a priority on staples being off center.
So, well, Duane, I guess the answer is that there IS no clear cut answer.
However, Duane's question did make me look up Batman #227 up online to see how valuable the comic book even was, as I don't recall Batman #227 being a particularly important book and I was shocked to see how expensive this particular comic book has become in recent years!
And it seems like it is all to do with the cover!