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Unrestored copy of Detective Comics #27, the first Batman comic, going on sale at auction

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An unrestored copy of Detective Comics #27, the May 1939 issue that first introduced Batman and Commissioner Gordon to readers worldwide, is going to auction at the end of March.

The copy in question is being sold by Heritage Auctions, with proxy bidding online already ongoing. The high bid as of Saturday is $612,500, having started at just $1. There have been 49 bids and phone bid registrations for the item thus far.

Once proxy bidding concludes at 12 p.m. CDT on March 30, floor and live remote bidding will begin. Users engaging in proxy bidding are prompted to enter their maximum bid on the Heritage Auctions listing, so as to give them a fair shot to outbid live bidders on March 30.

The issue of Detective Comics #27 has a collector’s rating of 6.0, or “Fine”, from third-party memorabilia evaluator the Certified Guaranty Company. The pages are off-white to white, and the grader noted light wear and tear in evaluating the piece. A dedication to a friend from comic author Bob Kane is written on the first page.

As noted on the cover, in 1939 the comic sold for ten cents, $2.18 when adjusted for inflation. This copy, however, could fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not over a million.

Heritage Auctions notes that the baseline price for a 6.0 grade issue of the comic is $816,000 — but also says in the listing that only four issues with a higher grade have been sold in the last 22 years. 

A grade 6.5 copy set the sales record for Detective Comics #27 when it sold for $1.74 million in May 2022 at Goldin Auctions. There are only 75 known copies extant, and only 14 of those, including the aforementioned 6.5 grade copy, are rated higher than a 6.0. The highest grade for a known copy of the comic is 9.4, according to the Certified Guaranty Company.

Some comics enthusiasts think that, even at a 6.0, the issue could break that $1.74 million tally.

“$1.5 million is not an unreasonable guess. It may set a record. It’s so sought after that it’s gonna get crazy attention,” Ted VanLiew, owner of Super World Comics in Holden, Massachusetts, told the New York Post, adding that Detective Comics #27 is one of the “holy grails of comics.”

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