Still treasures waiting to be found
by Mike Baron
News of the Crippen Collection in New York has reminded collectors that the days of great discoveries are far from over. Experts are comparing the Crippen Collection, 11,000 carefully preserved comics dating from the thirties, to the famed Mile High Collection in Denver. The Crippen Collection has been conservatively valued at two and a half million dollars.
This reminds me of other notable collections that have yet to be discovered. In 1971 I was visiting Richard Armstrong in Jacksonville, IL. Jacksonville's most famous son is the boxer Ken Norton. Rich took me to see his friends the Barbiere Brothers, who lived on a farm nearby. When they learned I was interested in comics they began hauling out cardboard boxes. Their bedroom contained a bunk bed and I remember the boxes coming out from under the bottom bunk in a gust of dust. One box was filled with approximately one hundred classic Uncle $crooge, Donald Duck, and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories from the fifties on.
"Do you want them?" Bill Barbiere said. "We've both read them a million times." So I took the box with me. Although their condition was not the best, most were intact with few tears. I eventually sold them on eBay.
Near where I live is the Randy Yeates Collection, known to only a handful of people. Randy, cousin of artist Tom Yeates, has been collecting comics-and archiving them-since the fifties. His collection is vast and deep in both Golden and Silver Age.
In Madison I worked with a guy named Pat Page, who spied Spider-Man #1 the day it came out, bought two copies and decided why stop there? When I last saw Pat, which was fifteen years ago, he had every Marvel comic published since that Spider-Man up to that point. I wonder if he has kept his collection up.
Howard Hughes was an avid comic book collector and reader. He had his agents buy three copies of every comic on the stands and they were archived, as were so many of Hughes' obsessions. His agents have successfully kept news of the Hughes Collection from the public for one very important reason: no one knows where it is. The man in charge of maintaining the collection died in 1979 without revealing its location. Hughes owned many properties through surrogates and other agencies and some of these have still not been thoroughly investigated.
The Andy Warhol Collection. It should surprise no one that pop artist Andy Warhol worshiped comics, and maintained a very complete collection dating back to the forties, when he was a boy.
The Denis Kitchen Collection. Denis, the pioneering underground publisher and cartoonist, has a complete collection of virtually every underground comic published since Yarrow Stalks and Zap #1. Underground comics have become an extremely hot collectors' item.
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