All comic collections could technically have a pedigree given the broadest definition of the word (aka a documented recording of direct linage). And surely every book that survives has an interesting story behind its passage through time. But unlike genealogists who are able to research a family tree, most comic linage is unknown. Even assuming the transaction history of a single comic could be uncovered, the combinations from a whole collection would multiply exponentially.
However, by blending in the “air of distinction” inherent in the term pedigree (gained in part from horse racing where determining linage could lead to finding the next Triple Crown winner) comic dealers hit upon a bit of marketing genius – setting apart comics coming from original owner collections with premier condition and sought after issues.
Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) created specific rules for what it would grade and encapsulate with a pedigree designation. The collection:
- must be original owner, bought off the newsstand.
- must be of vintage material (that is primarily Golden Age).
- must consist of a considerable number of comics (1,000 or more).
- should include rare, important and/or key material.
- must be high-grade (roughly VF 8.0 on average).
This leaves some wiggle room for the collecting community to still recognize other comic collections as a pedigree as it deems fit. Some commonly mentioned include Cookerville, Eldon, Harold Curtis and Henschel.
Shown here is my Police Comics #48 from “the collection of Harold Curtis.”
According to the March 17, 2006 Heritage Auction press release, Harold Curtis grew up in a small northeastern Connecticut town. Harold and his siblings would get up early Saturday mornings and complete their chores to earn a twenty-five cent allowance. Harold used these funds to buy comics, candy and movie theater tickets.
Fun Harold Curtis collection facts derived from the Comic Pedigrees website include:
- The collection totaled 519 comics which were almost completely consigned to Heritage Auction, CGC graded and sold at one time.
- Most comics were high grade, with excellent paper quality. Many Harold Curtis comics are still at the top of the CGC census.
- The bulk of the collection was from 1941-1946.
- The comics were mainly superhero (yet no Superman) and from publishers DC, with some Quality and Lev Gleason (but no Timely).
- The collection contained no titles starting with letters E through O.
- Over half the books have identifying marks. Early issues have ‘Harold Curtis,’ ‘Harold,’ ‘H.E.C.,’ ‘Curtis,’ or ‘H. Curtis’ written in ink on the cover. Later issues have a distributor’s ‘p’, ‘w’ or ‘k’ mark in pencil or ink.
Highlights from the May 11, 2006 auction included a CGC NM 9.4 Batman #14 which sold for $13,145 and a CGC NM 9.4 Double Cover Wonder Woman #7 which sold for $4,421. Neither have since resold publicly. Safe to say both would fetch double the original sales price if brought to auction today.