Comic Books

Beyond Golden Age Comics: Superman Has a Rookie Trading Card!

When it comes to Superman, it is Action Comics #1 from June of 1938 that marks Superman’s first appearance. This Golden Age comic book is one of just a few comic books that will command million prices even in not the best condition. There is then the Superman #1 that was printed a year later. The first is considered to be the equivalent of a rookie card in sports cards lingo but what if Superman actually had a rookie trading card?

Superman does have a rookie card of sorts. In 1940, a 72-card set that has been designated as R145 Superman was produced by Philadelphia’s Gum, Inc. Memory Lane, Inc. currently has a set up for auction and the auction house confirms what you might have expected — kids and adults clamored to buy the cards at the time. Just don’t forget that the 1930s was the Great Depression and World War II had not started. It was a time when spending money on comics, cards and other items was not universally easy.

Memory Lane’s auction still has 12 days to go and the minimum bid of $12,500 has already jumped after 18 bids to a price of $34,434.00. Image below by Memory Lane, Inc.

Superman Cards 1940

The auction house reports that the 1940 Superman set is one of the most sought-after non-sports issues for collectors. It also notes that the set is extremely difficult to find in high-grade. The high numbers of card #49 to #72) are much more scarce than the first 48 cards of the set. This should prove the point:

Of the nearly 7,000 examples graded by PSA, only six have reached the MINT 9 status and none have been graded GEM MINT.

Memory Lane also points out that this particular set up for grabs is among the finest Superman card in the industry. The overall set grade is a 5.217 GPA. The set comes with three graded as PSA 8, one card at PSA 7.5 and 25 cards graded at PSA 7. Here is what else Memory Lane had to say about the priced set:

This set includes four Pop 1 examples (#8, 18, 40, 62) and the difficult first (#1) and last (#72) cards graded VG 3 by PSA. SMR value for these six cards alone is over half the minimum bid for this lot. Creators Jerry Spiegel, Joe Shuster and DC Comics created a goldmine that keeps paying dividends some 82 years later. This is a spectacular non-sport set of one of the most sought-after in the hobby and the offered is one of the finest ever assembled of the Man of Steel.

After looking at the PSA registry and population reports there are only 6.959 graded examples counted by PSA. There are no perfect mint PSA 10 grades and only six cards in total have received a PSA 9. The two largest grades of cards without the “+” and “Q” designations are 1,193 examples of PSA 4 and 924 examples at PSA 5.

Crad #1 of Superman is basically the most graded card with 154 total grades and only 108 of those come without the “+” or “Q” grades. That card is not cheap by any mean. One a single example has sold in 2022 to date — PSA 4 for $7,371.60 through Clean Sweep Auctions (2/4/2022). Here are some other recent sales counted by PSA:

  • 12/03/2021 PSA 3 sold for $4,494.45 (eBay)
  • 10/28/2021 PSA 4 sold for$6,733.00 (eBay)
  • 07/26/2021 PSA 5 sold for $13,800.00 (REA)
  • 06/11/2021 PSA 5 sold for $12,112.80 (Memory Lane)
  • 05/28/2021 PSA 2.5 sold for $3,375.00 (PWCC)
  • 05/16/2021 PSA 1.5 sold for $2,995.00 (eBay)

Going back further than this, one example of a PSA 7 sold in 2020 and one other PSA 7 example (different serial #s) sold:

  • 01/27/2020 PSA 7 sold for $13,673.45 (Mile High)
  • 12/09/2019 PSA 7 sold for $13,200.00 REA)

Well, if the early comic books for the Man of Steel are not cheap and are not very common was it fair to expect the same from “Superman’s rookie cards” for collectors?

Categories: Comic Books, Non-Sports

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