James Hilton is a legend of sorts in the world of comic collecting. After-all, he started collecting in the Golden Age of comics all the way back to 1939 – and continued right up to his passing in 1968 (the Silver Age of comics). He was also the first African American collector to achieve the esteemed comic pedigree status.
The majority of books (and the “keys” in the collection) were from 1946. Oddly no books from 1949 were found (making it the only missing year). One can imagine storing over 5,000 comics in a Brooklyn, NY home was no small feat. However, the collection was retained in the home by family members until James’ nephew Ron took an interest in 1993. Taking some samples to Christie’s Auction House in Manhattan, he initiated a relationship which would begin recognition of the Big Apple pedigree and admiration of the comic collecting public. Christie’s auctioned many of the books over subsequent years between 1994 to 2000. Dealer Phil Weiss continued to disperse the comics after that period.
Stored in trunks, the 1940’s books retained white pages and represented some of the highest known grades (for example my Police Comics #57 (9.4) is the best graded copy of that issue). Later comics were stored on shelves and did not fair as well in their battle against time.
The books I own are distinguished by what are likely distributor marks in sort of a loopy nine shape.