How to find the value of vintage comic books?

how to find the value of vintage comic books


I used to collect and read comic books when I was a kid growing up in Minneapolis. I had the occasional DC title such as Batman or Superman, but for the most part I was interested in Marvel Comics. There used to be a store in the Uptown area called “Comic City,” and I would ride my bicycle there every month when the new issues were released. It was always fun to glance over the newsstand and pick up the latest issues of some of my favorite superheroes, using the earnings from my paper route and mowing lawns (that description alone should help with giving you a time period: mid-late 1970s and early 1980s).

The comics that I primarily bought and read were: The Amazing Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Captain America and the Falcon, The Avengers, and Star Wars, since Marvel had a long-running series that was extending the original movie.

I’ve had my childhood collection stored in boxes for years, and rarely pull them out, but for some reason I had to urge to glance through them the other day. As I was refreshing my memory of what I had, I happened upon this first issue of Black Panther, published in January 1977. At some point in my childhood, recognizing the concept that first issues were valuable, I put it in this plastic sleeve, and I think I can safely say it’s probably been a few decades since I’ve looked at it. Seeing this, and knowing the immense popularity of the Black Panther movie, I was curious to see what this was now worth.

how to find the value of vintage comic books
Black Panther #1, from 1977, from my collection of vintage comic books.

My initial search was simply a Google search for “Black Panther Marvel Comics #1,” and the initial results show listings for this selling for $65 on eBay, another eBay listing for $475, but then I also see that Heritage Auctions sold one for $1,800! So the question becomes, how can I figure out the value of my Marvel Comics Black Panther No. 1?

I know there’s a whole grading system, and further research suggests that “CGC” (Certified Guaranty Company) is considered the “global standard for determining a comic book’s physical condition,” with a full range of .5 for “Poor” up to 10 for “Gem Mint.” But of course this costs money – the same source of info suggests that the cost range for grading is $22 to $120, and comics with a higher value could have a sliding scale of 3% of the book’s value. I have no experience with this, and am only beginning my research, of course the initial feeling is that paying $120 for a grading is crazy, but I suppose if that comes off a sale price of $1,800, I could live with that (especially considering I bought it for 30 cents in 1977).

I also see there’s something called “Overstreet Grading Guide,” but the whole concept of grading in general is obviously a subjective process, and the grade would obviously depend upon the individual doing the grading. I’d like to think that mine would get a high grade, since I read it maybe once and it’s been untouched and in a plastic sleeve for decades, but … who knows?

It’s been a while since I’ve browsed any vintage comics at a comic book store to get any sense of what my collection is worth – I don’t have many first issues of any series, so probably not a whole lot. But that single issue auction price of $1,800 floats in my head and has me curious to investigate. I’ll write again if and when I learn more or actually take action with this … but in the meantime, if anyone out there has any info to share on this process of investigation, please let us know in the comments section below. And if anyone wants to make an offer, I’m open to taking your best offer!

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