Also featured: Rare comic books, including Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of Spider-Man), original comic art, political memorabilia, concert posters, Disney, sports
YORK, Pa. – Hake’s Americana will conclude its stellar 50th year with a Nov. 14-16 auction of extremely rare comic books, original comic art, political items, concert posters, Disney and sports memorabilia. The centerpiece of the sale is the 100% AFA-graded Russell Branton Star Wars collection. Branton’s extraordinary assemblage of vintage Star Wars rarities is regarded as the finest in the hobby and is featured on day 2 of the sale.
As is the tradition at Hake’s, the auction will open with early American political memorabilia. A 1920 “Americanize America Vote For Cox And Roosevelt” jugate button is the section’s headliner. Considered the most iconic and desired button in the world of political campaign material, its rarity has been compared to that of the Honus Wagner T206 tobacco card or Action Comics #1. High-grade examples of this button seldom appear at auction. The one in Hake’s sale is expected to reach $35,000-$50,000.
A superb 1860 Stephen A. Douglas/Herschel V. Johnson portrait flag of red, white and blue glazed cotton was part of a legendary small find of political flags once used as the backing of a quilt. It is one of perhaps eight known, with two residing in the collections of the Smithsonian Institute and the National Museum of American History. A vibrantly hued and historically important survivor, it is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
A top baseball prize is a real-photo postcard depicting the Negro League Homestead Grays of 1930. It is one of only two known examples and represents the first of three consecutive years in which Harrison Studio (Hot Springs, Ark.) issued such cards. Estimate: $20,000-$20,000
From December 1953, a copy of Playboy #1 with Marilyn Monroe featured on the cover and as the inside centerfold is CGC graded 8.5. The auction estimate on this rare and iconic issue is $20,000-$35,000.
A Mickey and Minnie Mouse Driving Donald Duck celluloid wind-up toy, made in Japan in the 1930s, is accompanied by a colorful pictorial box that Hake’s experts have never seen before in the company’s 50 years of operation. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000
The star of the comic book category is a CGC 7.5 VF issue of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962). This sought-after Silver Age comic introduces The Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and is the first to show him on the cover. Any collector who has been waiting for a high-grade copy of this important issue to turn up at auction would be hard pressed to find a nicer example. Estimate: $100,000+
The auction contains three great original artworks by legendary comic book artist Jack “King” Kirby. His pencil-and-ink art for Page 8 of the Sept. 1962 issue of Marvel’s Incredible Hulk features eight fantastic Space Age panels and may be the earliest known Hulk art by Kirby in existence. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000. His 7-panel rendering of the Human Torch and the Fantastic Four was created for the story “The Sorcerer And Pandora’s Box” in Marvel’s Strange Tales #109 (June 1963) and is estimated at $10,000-$20,000. Kirby’s 6-panel comic book page original art for Marvel’s Thor #174 (March 1970) could reach the $5,000-$10,000 range.
A sensational entry, John Byrne’s original comic book cover art for Marvel’s Fantastic Four #289 (April 1986) is an action-packed scene featuring Human Torch in flames, standing amid wreckage and surrounded by Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, and Hulk’s cousin She-Hulk, who was standing in for The Thing. Not only is it an artistic treasure, it is also profusely annotated in the margins with desirable artist’s instructions and signed by Byrne in the UPC box. “Bidders may be shocked to find that the opening bid is only $100, but the consignor is confident that its true market value will be determined by collectors,” Winter said. Estimate: $20,000-$35,000
Another lot not to be missed is Daniel Clowes’ original comic book cover art for Urban Legends #1 (Dark Horse, June 1993), which starkly depicts a bug-eyed man about to bite into a batter-fried rat. With his offbeat approach to humor, Clowes enjoys a cult following that could be compared to that of Robert Crumb, and his original art is highly coveted, especially those works he created for use as covers. This one, which was completely hand done by Clowes, is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
The extraordinary Russell Branton Star Wars collection is regarded in the hobby as the crème de la crème of its class. Co-owner of Toy & Comic Heaven and top Star Wars expert James Gallo has described it as “the very best quality vintage Star Wars collection ever to be offered for public sale,” noting that it includes “high-grade carded figures as well as sealed vehicles and playsets.” The collection’s contents are 100% graded.
“This auction is uncharted territory for the hobby. While graded action figures have been around for several years, many of the extremely rare examples in Branton’s collection have never before appeared at auction with the distinction of AFA grading,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Americana.
From the day he began collecting in 2003, Branton has always focused on condition. “I wouldn’t buy anything that had a low grade. That’s why it took me 10 years to complete my collection,” he said. This leads to the reason why Branton has chosen to sell: he has reached his goal of acquiring every original-trilogy character from Kenner’s 1977-1986 production line. And all are AFA graded.
Several of the “12 Back” carded figures in the collection – Darth Vader, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker (estimate $10,000-$20,000) – are each graded an exceptional AFA 95 Mint. “It is easier to find a 10.0 comic than a 9.5 figure like these three,” Winter said.
All three of the 1978 double-telescoping 12 Back carded figures – Luke Skywalker, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, and Darth Vader – will be offered. The term “double telescoping” describes the action of the lightsabers, which project from the figure’s arm and again from the tip of the lightsaber itself. The Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi figure could reach $75,000-$100,000. A 1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Imperial Forces Series 1 three-pack consists of Bossk, IG-88 and Stormtrooper (Snowtrooper) figures. One of the rarest of all three-packs, it is graded AFA 75 Ex+/NM. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000
Could the Branton collection end up being the first million-dollar assemblage of Star Wars figures and toys? It’s possible, but Hake’s is taking steps to ensure the marketplace isn’t overwhelmed. “This is the first in a series of auctions that will contain portions of Russell Branton’s collection. That way, collectors will have time to plan for their next round of bidding. It’s an important consideration when there’s a once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity like this one,” Winter said.
Hake’s Americana Auction #222 featuring the Russell Branton collection has opened for bidding by phone, mail or online at hakes.com. The first session will close on Nov. 14, 2017, while the second session will conclude on Nov. 16. Nov. 15 is an interim day in which bidders can peruse the catalog and prepare for further bidding. To request a free printed catalog or for information on any item in the sale, call toll-free: (866) 404-9800 or (717) 434-1600. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.