The first of twelve lots from the collection of Frank Robinson was auctioned last week by Adventure House and the results have been posted. I copied the web pages into a spreadsheet and the sales displayed online added up to $577,606.50.
A complete run of Weird Tales, labeled the “crown jewel of Frank Robinson’s collection,” 366 pieces, fetched $250,000.
Other sales in the upper limits of the stratosphere were:
Doc Savage, complete set –$50,000
The Blue Book Magazine, a nearly complete run, 593 pieces –$48,000
Adventure, complete set, 753 pieces –$40,000
Amazing Stories, a nearly complete run through 1998, 594 pieces — $40,000
Astounding, a full run (pulp, large size, and digest) –$30,000
Planet Stories, complete set, 71 pieces — $14,000
The Mysterious Wu Fang, complete set, 7 pieces — $9,400
Wonder Stories, 68 issues — $8,000
Thrilling Wonder Stories, complete run, 111 pieces — $6,650
Startling Stories, complete run, 99 issues –$4,750
Fantastic Adventures, complete run, 129 pieces — $3,500
Air Wonder Stories, 11 issues — $3,000
While a lot of the sales have eye-catching totals they didn’t always amount to much per-issue. After the run of Wu Fang, among the most valuable individual items were the 2 issues of Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories (a complete run), commanding a price together of $2,200.
Because I used to collect bedsheet Astoundings I was interested that a set of 25 brought $300. I suspect that with inflation factored in it’s really no more than I was buying them for in the Seventies.
Likewise charter subscribers to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine will be disappointed that a nearly complete run through 1999, 229 issues, sold for a grand total of $1,000. If you were holding these for investment, now would be a good time to clear that space on your bookshelves.
While only an experienced pulp collector would be able to spot the genuine missed values, as a layman I was surprised by some results among the British prozines. The first 21 issues of New Worlds went for just $400. Several other lots of New Worlds received no bid at all. The 54 issues from the Sixties sold for only $425. Going unsold were 39 copies of Nebula Science Fiction, a British prozine of the Fifties, noted as the first to publish Robert Silverberg and Brian Aldiss, and also ran a book review column by Ken Slater. So I must be naïve to expect historicity to translate to higher prices.
These prices don’t surprise me at all. I have a theory that two factors are keeping magazine prices down and probably will be for some time to come. The first is that the Internet in general and eBay in particular have made it very easy for anybody with access to magazines to offer them for sale. So now magazines that were previously gathering dust in second-hand bookstores or attics are now for sale online. No surprisingly this increased supply depresses prices, especially amongst the digests which were not subject to the paper drives of WWII. The second factor is pure speculation on my part. I suspect that over the last 20/30 years an increasing number of collectors who purchased their magazines new have either been passing away or have been forced to dispose of their collections as they move into care. Between them these two factors have caused a glut on the market.
Was just reading the fourth issue of Tomorrow which Rob Hansen has put up here: http://www.fiawol.org.uk/FanStuff/THEN%20Archive/Tom04.htm and I see there is an article about the cost of collecting pulps. Given the prices listed above you may find this quote of some interest: “Commenting on prices, he believes that the American dealers and the original sellers of collections are largely to blame. Six years ago he was able to sell even such mags as MIRACLE STORIES at 3/- per dozen. Now his minimum price is 1s 6d. per copy.”
It’s my understanding from a friend who both knows Frqnk *and* is following these auctions that almost all of that first round was purchased by one deep-pocketed individual.
Having visited Chez Robinson a number of times over the years, it’s hard to imagine all those lovely pulps and digests covering nearly every wall *gone*!
@Robert: The auction results show the winner’s bidder number and I would infer from what I saw that you are right.