A fine copy of 1938's "Action Comics" #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold at auction Thursday for $956,000, exceeding expectations.
Graded 5.5 out of 10 by the Certified Guarantee Company, the comic is described by Heritage Auctions as having cream to off-white pages, rust-free staples and a brightly colored cover. However, there's a 1.5-inch spine split at the bottom, which likely prevented the copy from receiving a higher grade. Still, it was expected to sell for "only" about $750,000.
"Having seen many 'Action' #1's over the years, I am deeply impressed with this copy's eye appeal," Matt Nelson, CGC's primary grader, said in a statement. "The book presents as a considerably higher grade than 5.5, lacking the usual fading, staining or creasing commonly seen on mid-grade copies. White and bright, this 'Action #1 is one of the best looking among the remarkably rare pool of unrestored copies in the world."
Of course, $956,000 is nowhere near a record price. The finest known copy of "Action Comics" #1 (9.0 CGC) sold in 2014 on eBay for $3.2 million, rocketing past the previous record of $2.16 million paid in 2011 for a copy once owned by actor Nicolas Cage.
According to Heritage, this copy came from the collection of an East Coast comic book fan who had purchased it in the 1990s for $26,000. Neither the seller nor the buyer wished to be identified.
About 100 copies of "Action Comics" #1 are known to exist. Of those, only about 30 are unrestored.