The week I after I saved many of the Edgar Church reference files from the
trash men, I played host to Burrell Rowe and Bruce Hamilton. Burrell I had
met at the Houston convention I attended two weeks prior, and Bruce was a
comics/art dealer with whom I had been doing business for several years.
Burrell had contacted Bruce about the great comics he had purchased from
me at the Houston convention, and the two of them made arrangements to
come to our apartment in Boulder, Colorado to view the Church collection.
It goes without saying that the two of them were blown away when they
entered the apartment. The comics were still piled in 3 foot high stacks,
and were mostly unsorted. By this time, I had rented a couple of large
safety deposit boxes at my local bank for the more noteworthy issues I
had found, but there were still many stacks of books that I hadn't yet
had a chance to explore. If I remember correctly, one major book (WHIZ #2 ?)
was discovered by either Bruce, or Burrell, in the middle of a stack in our
At the time of their visit, I was still working to arrange more money to
give to the Church heirs. As a result, I let Bruce and Burrell pick out a
limited number of books at a discount from the prices listed in the 1976
Overstreet Price Guide. Bruce picked primarily DC's, while Burrell picked
out as many EC's as we could find (Church bought many of his EC's used...),
and some of the oversize late 1930's comics, such as early JUMBO and MASTER
comics. The two of them also expressed to me at that time that they would be
willing to purchase the entire collection, if I was interested in selling
everything at wholesale.
I declined their offer for two reasons. The first was that I had made the
decision (years before finding the collection) that I wanted to spend the
rest of my life retailing comics. If selling comics was my chosen
profession, what point was there in wholesaling this incredible find to
other dealers? My second reason for not selling everything to Bruce and
Burrell at wholesale was that I recognized, right from the beginning, that
many of the key issues from this collection were unique in their wonderful
condition. I believed that those comics could easily justify a premium over
current Guide prices.
This was clearly evident to me because the Overstreet, in 1976, was still
set up in a very peculiar fashion. Up until 1977, Overstreet listed comics
in "Mint" at only double "Good." The ratio was 1.0 for Good, 1.5 for Fine,
and 2.0 for Mint. This was the same standard that had been in effect since
the very first edition of the Guide. I had long had a problem with this
pricing standard because, as a teen, I had some experience in both the coin
and stamp collecting fields, where far wider spreads existing in pricing. In
coins, for example, it was not unusual for a VF/NM to be twenty times as
valuable as a G. Given that Overstreet had not yet implemented spreads that
reflected the true scarcity of higher quality old books, I decided that
wholesaling these unique issues under the industry pricing standards of
1976 was ill-advised. Even when Overstreet changed the ratio in April,
1977 to 1.0 for Good, 2.0 for Fine, and 3.0 for Mint, I still thought the
pricing spreads didn't reflect the actual scarcity of Golden Age comics
in very high grades.
After Bruce and Burrell departed, I returned to Edgar Church's house. On
this trip I brought with me some friends from Boulder who specialized in
pulp magazines. They made a deal with the Church heirs for the magazines
in the mysteriously empty room that I mentioned in my last installment of
this story. In a shocking development, however, the middle books in the 7
foot tall, by 4 foot wide, shelving unit were ruined! The spines of all
these pulp magazines were all bright and colorful, but there was a pipe
running over the top of the bookshelf that led to an outside spigot. At
some time in the distant past, this pipe had sprung a pinhole leak, and
over the years the drops of water from the leak had run down the wall and
lodged in the pulps. When we tried to pull them off of the shelves, all
the issues in the middle of the individual shelves were bonded together
into a huge mass of black fungus! All I could think about when I saw those
books that had been destroyed was that I was so thankful that this
disaster hadn't happened to all the wonderful Golden Age comics...
My friends, the pulp dealers, were very dismayed at this unforeseen damage,
but they still obtained about 200 NM/M WEIRD TALES, SPICY MYSTERY, and SPICY
DETECTIVE pulps. The heirs got another nice payment for this batch of
magazines. On this trip I also paid them additional funds for the remaining
reference files from the main room of the basement. Once those were all
loaded, the heirs asked me if I would be interested in the contents of
Edgar Church's office.
To be continued...
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your letters to:
Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221