A TREASURE-TROVE of comics bought by an American enthusiast when he was a boy has fetched US$3.5m (AU$3.3m) at auction in New York.
The "jaw-dropping" collection of 345 comics features some of the world's most sought-after issues, including a pristine copy of Detective Comics No 27, in which Batman made his debut. Despite being published with a cover price of 10 cents in 1939, it sold for US$523,000 (AU$488,700) as the top lot on Wednesday.
The hoard had once been the prized possession of childhood comic collector Billy Wright, who died in 1994. The carefully arranged stack had been left untouched in the basement of his house in Virginia ever since.
"It was amazing seeing what they went for," said Michael Rorrer, Wright's great-nephew, who found the comics when he was cleaning out the house after his aunt's recent death. Wright reportedly never told his family about his collection, which also included Action Comics No 1 from 1938, the first comic to feature Superman. It is one of only around 100 of the 200,000-strong print run which survive today and fetched around GBP$190,000 (AU$279,400) at auction.
The collection was made more valuable because the issues were bought by a boy who cared for them, and had an eye for purchasing the right comic at the right time, according to experts. "This really has its place in the history of great comic-book collections," said Lon Allen of Heritage Auctions, which oversaw the sale. He described the comics as "jaw-dropping".
"This is just one of those collections that all the guys in the business think don't exist any more," Mr Allen said.
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