YORK, Pa. – Original comic strip art continues to solidify its position alongside fine art in the collector marketplace, with the latest proof coming on day two of Hake’s July 26-27 auction of pop culture rarities. Amongst the highlights of the $2.7 million sale was a selection of six consecutive lots of original concept art created in the late 1970s for a proposed Star Wars daily newspaper comic strip. Drawn by legendary comic strip artist Al Williamson (1931-2020) as part of a series of twelve strips, the artworks never saw publication.
“Six of the artworks were gifted to George Lucas, while the other six were given to Star Wars marketing genius Charles Lippincott (1939-2020),” explained Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Auctions. “For more than forty years Mr Lippincott’s six artworks remained with his family until they were consigned to Hake’s by his widow earlier this year.” Offered consecutively, the six lots sold for $171,505, against hopes that they would reach a combined $100,000. Winter added: “It was a great result, and the consignor was pleased, which is how we ultimately define ‘success.’”
One of the most sought-after of original comic book artworks in the sale was the Gil Kane/Dick Giordano seven-panel art for Page 27 of Marvel Premiere #15, published in May 1974. This issue saw the debut of the popular Marvel martial artist/superhero Iron Fist. Exceeding its high estimate, the pen-and-ink work sold for $20,350. Similarly, Al Plastino’s original art for the splash page (Page 1) of Superman #184 (DC Comics, February 1966), was bid to $15,055 against an estimate of $5,000-$10,000.
A world auction record for any Mego toy production was set by a very rare 8-inch Green Goblin action figure from The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes line. Copyrighted by Marvel in 1975 and issued by Mego in 1977, it was AFA-graded 80+ NM, archival case, and represented the only graded example in the AFA Population Report. It was entered in the auction with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate, but after 20 bids, Spider-Man’s nemesis triumphantly landed in record territory with a final price of $76,700.
There was strong interest in political memorabilia, with a number of items shattering their pre-sale estimates. Top-selling buttons included 5-inch easel-back real-photo portrait button of John W. Davis, West Virginia’s favorite son and dark-horse candidate for the 1924 Democratic presidential nomination. Few such buttons were produced, probably because there was a lack of enthusiasm for Davis’ candidacy, but he won his party’s nomination on the convention’s 103rd ballot and ended up running against Calvin Coolidge, who won the election. The Davis button sold for $37,760 against an estimate of $10,000-$20,000.
At 5/8 inches in diameter, the smallest-size James M Cox and Franklin Delano Roosevelt jugate button from the US presidential election of 1920 – a presumed manufacturer’s sample – netted $34,785 against a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. An unusual entry with two important American presidents’ signatures on a single item, a framed 1802 ship’s passport issued to the Brig Rosanna Of New York was signed by both President Thomas Jefferson and then-Secretary of State James Madison. Estimated at $2,000-$5,000, it enjoyed a smooth journey all the way to $15,705.
The history of America’s favorite pastime is enriched every time a new memento of the great Negro League is revealed. In its July auction, Hake’s took great pride in presenting an exceptionally rare original panoramic photograph of the 1926-’27 Philadelphia Royal Giants ball club. Depicting around half of the club’s players, it included three future National Baseball Hall of Famers: Willie Foster, Turkey Stearnes and Bullet Rogan. Printed text below the image stated that the team won the Los Angeles Winter League of San Jose championship in March 1927. This gem of a photo, measuring 9¾ by 4 inches, outran its $5,000-$10,000 estimate to slide home at $18,210.
The insatiable desire for Star War rarities is always well served at Hake’s auctions. Highlights of their July event included a loose 1977 Kenner action figure of Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi with double telescoping saber, AFA 90 NM+/Mint, which sold for $27,260 ($10,000-$20,000); a 1978 Kenner 3-pack Special Action Figure Set, AFA 85 NM+, featuring “villains” Stormtrooper, Darth Vader and Death Squad Commander, which sold within estimate for $15,135; and Kenner’s 1977 dangler display set with “3 New Action Figures” – Sand People, Death Star Commander and Jawa – which was AFA graded 85 NM+, made $13,100 ($2,000-$5,000).
A very rare and high-grade 1966 Japanese Batman bobbing-head figure, standing 4 7/8 inches high and retaining its original cardboard box and packing material, was only the second of its type ever to cross the auction block at Hake’s. In 2014 an unboxed example in slightly lesser condition sold for $4,520. The one in Hake’s July 27 session more than doubled its high estimate and rose to a record $10,490. Also worthy of mention is a high-grade Ideal The Amazing Spider-Man bagged soft vinyl puppet with a colorful pictorial header. Copyrighted by Marvel Comics Group in 1966, it came to Hake’s as new-old store stock and claimed an auction record price of $8,630 – more than four times its high estimate.
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