COMMENTARY | When Michael Rorrer’s comic book collection goes to auction this week, it is expected to net a cool $2 million. Not bad for the contents of an old basement closet in his great aunt’s house. According to the Associated Press, the comics had been collected by his great uncle, Billy Wright, starting when he was just a boy. In fact, the collection includes a coveted 1938 Action Comics No. 1 — the one where Superman made his first appearance — that great uncle Billy bought when he was 11 years old. This made me wonder, what did Billy’s mom think of his comic book collection?
My twins have been collecting comics for a few years now, and my son has the full run of DC Super Friends in pristine condition. Unfortunately, even though he has read them very carefully under his father’s watchful eye and kept them protected in dust-proof bags, I doubt that they are going to fetch thousands of dollars on the market anytime in my life. He likes them, though, and they were the source of many hours of play and artistic endeavors, so they will always be worth something to him.
My daughter has a vast collection of Webkinz. Some of those have sold for hundreds, even thousands of dollars in collectors’ markets, but as the years have gone by the prices have come down and even the once impossible to find retired Webkinz Pegasus could be found for a reasonable sum on eBay. Like Beanie Babies before them, the Webkinz are still great fun for the kids, but the long-term value is gone.
My aunt has a collection of frogs; over 2,000 frogs to be exact. She has frogs in every room of her house, and it all started decades ago with just one. She loves her frogs, and can tell you exactly where each one came from, which is neat because most of them were gifts from people she loves. Some cost a lot of money, at least one is solid gold, but most are virtually worthless if you only count what they would bring in a sale. It doesn’t matter, because they make her happy.
So what if your kids want to start a collection, hoping that after years buried in the closet or tucked away in the attic it might garner a fortune for their heirs? They could collect comics or stamps, coins or antiques, dolls or trains, Mickey Mouse or Mickey Mantle or anything they’d like. I tell my kids that they should only hang onto things they truly love, that will be worth a lot to them no matter what anyone else says, and that they should take good care of those things simply because they bring them joy. Sure, the world loves a story like Michael Rorrer’s, and we all hope to find a hidden treasure buried within our reach, but when it comes to collecting, it should be about the things that make you happy, not necessarily about the money.
Jamie Stengle, Comic collection expected to fetch $2M at auction, Associated Press