Marvel Comics Pence Price Variants

A Guest Blog Post by Ian Pengilley
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

There is little doubt that the issue of Marvel Comics Pence Price Variants is a contentious one when raised among comic book dealers. Many opinions abound as to the collectability or desirability of these copies, and hence, the retail value to be given to them on the open market, which becomes more relevant as trading barriers are broken down with increasing cross-Atlantic sales.

Weird Wonder Tales No. 17As the selling prices of geographically limited Marvel 30c and 35c variants continue to increase, there is little consensus in the hobby as a whole as to what kind of value difference the Pence covers make.

The hobby’s old pricing bible, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, makes no mention of pricing variation that is typically seen in completed sales on Pence variants.

Asking prices of Pence variants with respect to Cents copies are reportedly as much as 70% disparate (Pence variants being offered at 30% of Cents issue price), depending on the condition and demand commonly encountered for the Cents copies of the same issue.

The Amazing Spider-Man The Chameleon StrikesOne thing to establish early on is that Marvel comics with ‘d’ (old British Pence) or ‘p’ as opposed to Cents pricing have been erroneously described as reprints or ‘UK editions’ which is suggestive of a separate print run with Pence pricing. They are not. Pence variant copies are the same book entirely as the Cents version, printed at the same time on the same press, with only a change in the cover price printing plate separating the two kinds of copies. It has even been suggested that since the Pence copies were printed to a specific number of copies for reasons of limited import quota, the Pence copies were printed first, and for that reason many of the Pence copies have better ink density than the equivalent Cents issues. Under that assumption, I have heard Marvel Cents copies cheekily described as reprints!

I decided to investigate the attitudes toward Pence Variants among comic dealers, and find out how this small variation in the cover detail can largely influence the pricing and desirability of these books.

The first comic book dealer I spoke to on the subject was Gary Ochiltree of Krypton Komics in North London. Gary is regarded as a ‘crusader’ of Pence issues who has approached several of the hobby’s leading members to clarify some of the misconceptions commonly voiced about these books.

I was very pleased to receive an incredibly detailed e-mail on the subject which clearly is close to his heart!

“The subject of pence price variants is one that I’ve been banging on about for several years now. The problem with these comics has always been one of perceptions and understanding of the true facts of what they are. Most people in the US and indeed many in the UK continue to labour under the false belief that they are somehow reprints of the US editions. As you no doubt know that is not the case. They are the same comics printed at the same time on the same presses, with the same paper and the same ink. The only difference is that at some point in the print run, the cent cover price is changed to Pence for the copies intended to be shipped to the UK. The cover month was also removed as it would make the items appear out of date when they arrived in UK shops. This was because the ships (at a time when shipping meant shipping) would take around a month to cross the ocean. This is the only difference. If you look inside any American comic with a UK cover price you will still find all the US cent pricing in the indicia.

X-Men Vol 1As a result, the pricing of Krypton’s books reflect the idea that they are the same comic. Gary’s most outstanding example is a boldly colored 9d copy of X-Men #1 in VF condition, which maintains the guide price for Cents issues in this grade.

The next suggestion is that due to the small print runs implying scarcity, there is no reason that Pence copies should not even sell for more than their Cents counterparts; Imagine if you will that there were in existence copies of Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #1, Hulk #1 etc. that had a cover price of 9 cents rather than 10 or 12 cents; that they had been produced at the same time on the same presses, with the same paper and the same ink as the 12 cent editions, and that the only reason for the price change was because of the specific geographical area they were intended to be sold in. Let’s say it’s Texas.

Let’s assume that the print run for this geographical market was only 2-5% of the total copies printed. How much would they be worth today? You’d sell your house to get a 9 cent price variant of FF# 1 right? You bet you would, because it would be the rarest of the rare!

So why should a 10 cents copy (which is a fantasy) be worth a mint, whilst a 9d copy be seen a poor second cousin? The answer is purely about understanding of what Pence price variants really are. They are genuine original Silver Age variants. The price of the comic on the cover reflects part of the history of that particular comic book. If it’s cents then it went a US newsstand somewhere. If it’s Pence it went to Thorpe & porter in the UK. But it’s still the same comic!

In reality the Pence cover price is still seen as second best to Cents issues among a number, if not the majority, of collectors and dealers. I asked reputed seller and Overstreet Price Guide advisor Harley Yee of his pricing on Marvel Pence Variants.

“It depends mostly on which comic and the condition. For books in the region of Very Good condition there is very little difference in the selling price. When it comes to high grade and particularly key issues, the difference would usually be a 50-70% reduction in price”.

UK dealer Chris Pearson of Chris’s Comics went further; “I used to have a sign on my show stand offering a `sympathetic shredding service’ for Pence copies, but I had to take it down as it got some people’s backs up! The experience of low demand for Pence issues has forced him to review his stock and he does not offer any Pence copies except Silver and Bronze age X-Men books. They are sold at about half Overstreet guide value on his stand.

“It depends very much on the situation- I wrote in to Comics International suggesting a cartoon where a dealer buys Pence cover comics from a collector saying “Well, they’re not going to sell, so I’ll offer you a few cents on the dollar of guide value. In the next panel the same dealer is selling the books at a huge cost over guide value, calling them ‘Rare Export Variant Editions’.

In his view, some people will pay the same prices for Pence copies as for Cents, but in his favorite market areas of high grade Golden Age, Silver Age and pre-code ECs, Pence priced books are a fly in the ointment.

Fantastic Four No. 2“Some people want to buy Cents copies because that’s what they were used to buying from the newsstands”, says collector and dealer Ken Harman. “Myself, I was used to buying Pence copies because that was what was available at the time. But I still collect Cents copies.” [He lays two copies of Fantastic Four #2 in front of me] “This one is Cents but the other is a Pence copy- the Pence one is in higher grade, and that makes more of a difference to the value than the pricing on the cover”.

The nostalgia goes some way to explaining the resistance of some collectors in paying similar sums for Pence copies as for Cents issues. There is the perception that there is something ‘ersatz’ about Pence copies that make them seem ‘less authentic’, particularly to American buyers and to those using comic books as an investment vehicle.

David Finn of Incognito Comics admits “We sell to a collector who only buys Pence copies” which is seconded by Silver Acre’s Darryl Jones; “People start to buy Pence copies when they’ve completed a nice run of books. They are a proper Variant, and in fact the chances of getting them in high grade are much less when they’ve been sitting on a container ship for seven weeks. I have talked to Bob Overstreet about how Pence copies are described, as they used to call them ‘UK Editions’. We would like them to be called ‘Pence Price Variants’.

Amazing Fantasy Vol 1The last word on the subject of changing perceptions on Pence variants should go to Gary Ochiltree; “I noticed that CGC were using the term UK Edition on the census of their web site. After various email discussions between CGC myself and Dave of Incognito Comics we wound up having to compare two copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 (one cents & one Pence) in order to convince them that the description was misleading. It seems that they had seen very few Pence copies. Anyway, the UK Edition heading on the census was amended to Country/Variant. Again, not the exact phraseology I would chose, but much better than ‘UK Edition’. If the standard rules of supply and demand were to apply they should be worth way more than the common cent copies. As ever with these things the market will decide, but I think just changing the way we describe these things is step in the right direction”.

 

Comments (2 Comments)
Allen

To say these are price variants, what was the exchange rate? Pence is a very different currency then pence. You can't even correctly call them variants, But Why? Because you are not comparing dollars with dollars you are now comparing two different currencies, to suit the people who want pence copies to be viewed as something special. They are not. Some say they were printed at the same time, I highly doubt that, and theirs no proof of that. Foreign books were often printed quit differently, the pence copies were most likely to be printed with the Mexican, French, German, finish, copies. They are no more special then the Italian edition. They were not sold in the US or Canada. If you want to increase your comic collections value, by Cent/dollar copies from North America. The pence copies will always sell at a fraction of cent copies

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Diecast Collector bkalland Enjoys Success On hobbyDB and scOOmer

Like many diecast collectors, Charles “Bud” Kalland started collecting a few favorites, mostly Ford high-performance models, and the hobby quickly mushroomed into an obsession. Also like many collectors, trading and selling a few extras became something of a business. And then it became his main business.

“My collecting over the years became a habit by holding on to items from trinket toys to classic cars,” he explained. “As my two sons grew up, there were toys that were cherished and played with and occasionally set aside for the future. At first it was trains. Then it was model diecast metal car kits of fantastic ‘Classic’ cars.”

He still has still have several Hubley kits from the late 1940s. When his sons wanted toy cars to play with in the 1960s, he bought them Hot Wheels cars because they wanted fast cars. “I still have some of those early redlines,” he said. “Serious diecast car collecting started in the ‘80s when his youngest son suggested he should start looking for special cars as he traveled the country on business.

As his collection grew, he started selling out of necessity to thin out his stash. “If I wanted to continue the hunt for special cars, I needed to sell something to make space for new ones. I’ve also changed the scale of my wants. If I want the highly detailed 1/18 scale casting, I better sell at least 10 1/64 scale cars. Yes, scale really matters.”

bud kalland

When he retired from his job, selling diecast became his new career. “I’m an early riser due to my ranching experience as a child,” Bud said. “If hunting brick and mortar stores in the early mornings is work, then that is my career now.”

He was impressed not only as a seller, but also as a collector. “Of all the internet sites I’m acquainted with, hobbyDB suits my interest best,” he said. “Facebook and social websites are a mess for accuracy, manufacturers are nice but it’s only about their brands. For me the internet isn’t just about entertainment, its mostly about accurate information.”

hot wheels store

Bud has found success selling on scOOmer as well as in his store on hobbyDB.

As for collecting, he is first and foremost a Ford guy. “It has to be Ford related. I would guess that a GT 40 or Shelby Daytona could be considered my favorite models.” He’s willing to look at other marques of course, if the model appeals to him, of course. “I have many Hot Wheels from conventions that are signed by designers, but most importantly by Larry Wood.” His favorite signed item is a Classic series Hot Wheels Firebird Funny car from the only Hot Wheels’ Regional convention ever held in San Antonio.

Bud collects other brands of diecast as besides Hot Wheels. Among the most prized items in his collection are “a pair of M2 Shelby prototypes that were sent me by Sean Taylor with a personal letter of explanation.”

bud kalland

And yes, he enjoys 1/1 scale cars as well. “I’ve owned Shelby cars, Excaliburs, Jaguars and even a Peugeot,” he said. “Over the last 10 years I’ve been enjoying cruising in my highly customized Mustang GT. It was a show car for a few years. Then came a Shelby shop suspension and transmission overhaul… then leaded custom body work, then custom flamed paint job… I’ve  often said, ‘this car talks to me.’”

Next time you’re cruising scOOmer or hobbyDB, stop by his store and say hello!

Comments (2 Comments)
Bud Kalland

Darby;

Very nice!!! I'm proud to be part of hobbydb.

Bud

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Ben van Roode, Dutch Diecast Expert, Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Ben van Roode

The vast collection of knowledge available on hobbyDB keeps growing with yet another diecast vehicle expert. Ben van Roode, best known as an author of articles and books about model cars, has joined the Advisory Council.

“I played as a boy of course with cars,” said Ben, who lives in The Netherlands. “Then in my teens model cars disappeared into the background because other interests took over.” The lapse wasn’t for long, however, as he got his first job at the age of 16 and began collecting Dinky toys along with other brands of model cars. “There was one slight problem. Sales girls did not ask whether it was a present, but supposed right away that the guy of 18 or so was not the one that would receive the gift,” he laughed. “So they wrapped it up in nice gift paper that I removed as fast as I could.

“Dutch society is more individual than ever today, though, and people do not judge about the hobbies you have.”

In his twenties, he joined the biggest society of Dutch diecast collectors. “Rather soon, I was asked to become a member of the board,” he said. “I started a club magazine and was responsible for the contents. In the meantime the number of members rose to around 5500. We celebrated the 25th jubilee in 1990.”

For the jubilee, the club organized a large exhibition of models in 80 glass showcases that was on public display for six weeks. The event was sponsored by BMW and opened by a member of the Royal family, it was a big deal.

MAR Model Auto Review

Big Boys don't play with Dinky ToysAs an adult, Ben has written about model cars in Dutch and English. I wrote among others for a Dutch classic car magazine. I wrote for MAR (Model Auto Review), and so on. In 2004 he wrote a book called “Big Boys Do Not Play With Dinky Toys,” a celebration of 40 years NAMAC (Netherlands Association of Model Auto Collectors) in a print run of 8500 copies. “American cars in all scales were a main theme for me,” he said about his collection, “but the club included models of cars from anywhere.” Despite leaving his functions in the club, he was made a honorary member for life.

Despite many collector clubs losing membership in recent years, the NAMAC continues to thrive, with over 5000 members. “Every two months there is a large model car fair in the center of the country. With over 500 tables and around 6000 visitors, it’s the largest fair in Europe that’s organized this frequently.” Collectors and traders from Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, the U.K., and further away attend the meetings.

NAMAC meeting

The mulit-annual NAMAC diecast shows are among the largest collector events in Europe.

Having recently moved to a smaller apartment, he decided to sell a large part of his collection (large in number and scale). “I now collect mainly 1/64 scale,” he said. “I love Johnny Lightning and to a certain extent also Matchbox and Hot Wheels. I was positively surprised when JL and Auto World returned with their new lines in 1/64.”

Ben’s interests extend beyond model cars, of course. “In art, I especially love the photorealism but am open to all painters, including the modern ones too. Architecture is another thing that interests me,” he said.

He creates his own art as well. “I draw a little myself, but it is not very good. I love collecting drawn art of cars that are drawn, like the Pontiac ads in the sixties and many other car art people, Ken Eberts, William Motta… the list is endless..” he said. “I made a little book of ads from American cars from American magazines.” As an appropriate soundtrack for enjoying Detroit steel, his Spotify account is populated with Motown and Pennsylvania soul music.

At 70 years old, he is nowhere near slowing down For one thing, he writes for Modelauto Krant, an online diecast blog. He volunteers as a member of the board for some charity organizations and still does personal writing. “I need my diary every day. You have to stay active in your life.”

It’s a joy to know someone who enjoys his hobbies so much. Welcome aboard, Ben!

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My Top Ten Collectable Teddy Bears

bearsA Guest Blog Post by Kathy Martin
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

I’ve been a teddy bear enthusiast, aka an arctophile, for more than 25 years, having developed an interest in them when I started dealing in antiques in the late 1980’s. There’s something about the way an old bear slumps as his stuffing relaxes that I find immensely appealing, so here are my top ten collectable teddy bears.  

Almost since the first teddies appeared in the early 1900’s, people have been quietly nurturing a fondness for them but it’s only in the last 30 years or so that the hobby has gone mainstream. Now there are thousands of arctophiles worldwide, supporting a small but significant community of antique and vintage bear dealers, bear artists and manufacturers of modern limited edition bears.

ANTIQUE AND VINTAGE TEDDIES – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

 

bearss

The strict definition of an antique is something that is more than 100 years old. Therefore, to qualify as a true antique, a teddy must have been made no later than 1915. The first teddy bear was created by Steiff, the famous German manufacturer, in 1902 but the new toy didn’t achieve widespread success until 1905 when the design was perfected. Just one year later, 400,000 bears had been sold.

For most collectors of old bears, however, it’s not so much a question of whether a bear is antique or vintage as whether it is pre or post WWII. While there are many devoted collectors of post-WWII teds, the strongest interest lies in examples produced before 1939 and this is where the highest prices are paid.

What is a bear artist? In my 2007 book A Collectible History of the Teddy Bear, I defined a bear artist as ‘someone who designs their teddy bears from scratch, creating their own patterns and using their own skills to make the finished article’. Usually working from home, these talented individuals spend hours honing different techniques in order to create bears that, in the best cases, are literally works of art. Bear artists sell their work via their own websites and at specialist teddy bear festivals. Artist-made bears can seem expensive but the prices reflect the many hours of intensive labour that have gone into their creation, as well as the costly materials that have been used to make them.

MODERN LIMITED EDITIONS

Renowned teddy bear manufacturers such as Steiff in Germany and Merrythought in the UK continue to produce high quality teddy bears for their fans. Sometimes reprising designs from yesteryear and sometimes creating fresh, contemporary pieces inspired by the bear artists of today, these teddies are offered to collectors in limited editions. Editions can be as low as 50 and as high as 2,000+. High quality materials are invariably used and many of the bears are hand finished in some way. However, every bear in the edition will have a uniform appearance and for some arctophiles, this makes them less exciting to collect.

FAVORITE TEDS

Edwina

Edwina

My own collection features examples from across the teddy bear spectrum. Without question the star of my collection is Edwina, a 19-inch Steiff bear made from white mohair in the late 1920’s. Steiff, of course, was founded in 1880 by Margaret Steiff and started off selling elephants as pincushions. It was love at first sight when I found Edwina in a 2002 auction celebrating 100 years of the teddy bear. Not only is she a beautiful bear in good condition for her age, she also comes with excellent provenance, having belonged originally to a member of the Rockerfeller family. 

 

Miles & Zotty

miles

Steiff created two other bears in my top ten. Miles, my oldest who dates from 1908, draws much of his charm from his battered and threadbare appearance. The bears are required to be flame resistant and eye buttons must resist tension, which goes to show the impact Steiff Company motto had on their toys, “Only the best is good enough for children.”

zotty

Then there is Zotty, a 1950’s creation with soft, shaggy fur and an open mouth that seems to be smiling. Most animals were made with materials such as Alpaca, felt, woven plush, and mohair. Many were made with wood or glass eyes and wood shavings or polyester fiber for stuffing. 

 

Mungo

mungo

As well as German bears, I have a good number of English-made teds in my collection. First amongst these is Mungo, the 1930’s Chad Valley given to me by my husband in 1998 when our daughter was born. Chad Valley briefly made stuffed toys before World War I, mass producing them in Harborne.  

 

Paddington & Aunt Lucy

paddington and lucy

Of later vintage are Paddington and Aunt Lucy, created by Gabrielle Designs in the 1970’s. (Interestingly, Shirley Clarkson, the woman behind Gabrielle, was the mother of Jeremy Clarkson). Both bears are sought after today but because of her relative rarity, Aunt Lucy can cost twice as much as her marmalade-loving nephew.

 

Fifi

fifi

From my limited editions, my most special bear is Fifi, one of 20 cream mohair teddies created by Steiff in 2010 for auction at the V&A. Measuring 20.5 inches high, Fifi was dressed and signed by Twiggy before being sold to raise money for charity.

 

Pumpkin

pumpkin

Pumpkin, a bear by Teddy-Hermann Original, has a less exciting background but is a favorite simply because he makes me smile. Based in Hirschaid, Germany, they are one of the oldest teddy producers, and come in Hermann Teddy Original, Miniaturen, and Herman Teddy Collection. 

 

Tivoli & Joseph

tivoli

Finally, traditional Tivoli by Stier Bears and jazzy Joseph by Woodland Teddies represent the sheer diversity on offer in the world of teddy bear artistry.  Kathleen Wallace started Stier Bears in Pennsylvania with her largest bear reaching an astounding 45 inches!

joseph

Woodland Teddies is fairly recent, about 1996. Rita Harwood creates a wide variety of critters out of felt and other materials. These two bears could hardly look more different yet both are unquestionably teds, that in a nutshell, is why I love artist bears. 

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The Most Expensive Cars Ever are More Affordable in Miniature

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently stumbled onto a list of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction, all of which you’ll likely have to valet, name, and put to bed with a few bedtime stories. If you don’t have a few million to spare on one of these beauties but still want to swoon, there are affordable models you can find on hobbyDB of just about every car on the list.

1937 Mercedes 540K Roadster – Sold for £3,900,000 ($4,818,800)

western models 1937 Mercedes 540KOnce owned by Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula 1 Racing, this car was one of only 26 ever built. There are several options to choose from including a 1/43 white metal version from Western Models, which usually sells around $100-125.

1904 Rolls-Royce 10hp – £4,000,000 ($4,942,359)

airfix rolls royce 1905This was the first car ever built by Rolls and Royce together, with a 1.8 liter engine cranking out a whopping 10 hp. (A modern Mini Cooper has an engine about that size and puts out over 10 times that power.) We haven’t found any models of this exact car, but there is a four seat version of the 1905 car that doubled the horses to 20. Airfix made a 1/32 scale model kit of it, available in different packaging for about 30 years.

1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK – £4,700,000 ($5,807,272)

bburago Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSKThe SSK is one of sleekest cars of its age, longer and lower than many other roadsters from the time. With very few mods (mostly involving removing unnecessary annoyances like running boards), it was an outstanding race car. While there are several models available, probably the best-known one comes from Bburago in 1/18 scale. There’s even a Mickey Mouse version…

1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM – £4,800,000 ($5,930,831)

looksmart 1962 Ferrari 330The one shown here was driven to victory at LeMans in 1962 by Phil Hill. So yeah, there’s a premium to be paid for pedigree. There are fewer models of this car than you might expect. This one is from Looksmart in 1/18 scale.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB – £6,900,000 ($7,289,980)

Polostil Ferrari 250 GT SWBNothing noteworthy about this particular car aside from the fact that it’s rare and beautiful and fast and once owned by actor James Coburn. There are several models of these available including a nice 1/18 offering from Polistil, who are usually known for their smaller scale cars.

1931 Bugatti Royale Berline – £7,900,000 ($9,761,160)

RIO Bugatti Royale BerlineLong before Bugatti became an ostentatious modern supercar, the name was bestowed on ostentatious luxury coupes. sedans and Phaetons. This particular one was owned by the Bugatti family, so again… pedigree has a price. There have been numerous models other Bugattis, but not many of this style. This similar fixed roof model from Rio is about as close as you can get to the real thing, and at $13.99 it’s a bargain even in 1/43 scale. (Or, if you like a project, you can acquire this one for less and restore it.)

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – £8,000,000 ($9,884,719)

bburago Ferrari 250 Testa RossaUnderneath that sleek, dripping coachwork is a V12 that is often described as the best-sounding Ferrari ever. Bburago brings you several smaller, quieter versions in 1/18 scale.

1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe – £9,200,000 ($11,367,427)

rio Bugatti Royale Kellner CoupeLong, low, and sinister looking, and powered by a 12.7-litre aircraft engine, the Kellner was too expensive for a car launched during the Great Depression. As it turns out, it would have been quite an investment if you could have held on for another 75 years or so. There have been models of similar vintage Bugattis including this 1/43 droptop from Rio.

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO – £12,000,000 ($14,827,079)

pink kar Ferrari 250 GTOOne of the most iconic and recognizable Ferraris ever, there were only 36 of these ever built. But there are lots of models, thank goodness. So how ’bout a version you can actually drive? This slot car from Pink-Kar clocks in at 1:32 scale.

1936 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic – £27,000,000 – $33,360,928

brumm revival Bugatti AtlanticThis is the Bugatti that everyone recognizes from their early days… a low, swoop Art Deco sculpture on wheels. Only three were ever made, so they tend to be expensive. There have been far more models of it, of course, in several scales. Here’s one from Brumm Revival for around $45, which scaled down, is pocket change by comparison.

Do you know of any other record-smashing auction cars that we also have in our database? Or other versions of these models that are even closer to the real ones? Let us know in the comments!

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