The Original Mile High Collection Part IX

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 spare bedroom.

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...

Please send your e-mails to chuck@milehighcomics.com, and your letters to:

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221



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