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NostoNews, May 1, 2004
by James Laudon

Nosto strikes gold!

You may have seen this story covered in detail in Comics Buyer's Guide #1590, or on IcV2.com. But here we present a different perspective. Below, I interview Tommy Jasmin, Director of Business Development for Nostomania.com, about how a nice couple in upstate New York opted to trust Nostomania to bring a very rare group of Golden Age comics to market.

It started with a simple inquiry on our help lines. A woman had had discovered some old comics, and Nostomania was one of the few sites she found which had detailed information on one of them - a Detective Comics 2.

The first thing we did was give her a crash course in golden age comic books, informing her that the Detective Comics 2 (shown below), rated a 9 on the 1 to 10 "Gerber Scarcity Index". The meaning? For an SI 9, there are estimated less than 10 copies remaining in existence !



The Detective Comics 2 discovered last month

Laudon: "So Tommy, explain why these folks chose Nosto. Surely they must have contacted multiple dealers?"

Jasmin: "Yes, it did sound like they contacted several dealers and comic related web sites. But what it boiled down to is this - we simply answered their questions and didn't hassle them. We only contacted them when repsonding to specific questions they had. After a few weeks of this, she basically told us they were tired of getting emails every 15 minutes, and they wanted to work with us since we were the only group not trying to beat a path to their door like a pack of rabid dogs to get these books."

Laudon: "So tell us about the books - what was found, and how?"

Jasmin: "It's truly an amazing story. They bought a very old house, and have been fixing it up over time. So they're checking out the attic, where there is some very old loose-fill insulation between the floorboards. They are deciding whether to remove the old stuff, or simply blow in a bunch more new insulation over the old. As luck would have it, they decided to dig around in the old insulation, and quickly discovered old books and magazines underneath the insulation!"

"They still have much of the attic to go through, and continue to send me reports. It is a literal time capsule, with something under the insulation throughout the attic. So far, the finds range from mid-1800's greeting cards over the old wing of the house, to mid-1930's Western pulps, to mid-1940's Life Magazines. We can only speculate as to how this came to be, but it's almost as if whenever the family was done reading something, they figured - why not put it to use helping to insulate the house?"

"As for the comic books found so far, they are all extremely rare books. Unfortunately, given where they were found, many have rodent chews. But some have survived fairly well, and to my surprise, the page quality was very good on almost all of them. Some examples are The Funnies 1, New Comics 1, Star Ranger 1, and The Comics Magazine 1. I had never seen a copy of Star Ranger 1 before. It's an early Centaur, the first Western comic ever, and is surprisingly oversized - basically magazine sized."

"What's really cool about the 1936 copy of The Comics Magazine 1, which I bet few people realize, is that it has a two-page story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster that is clearly, THE prototype for what two years later became known to the world as Superman - in Action Comics 1.



Tommy gazes in awe at the Superman prototype story

Laudon: "The books are all going to be auctioned, at no reserve, in the June Heritage Signature Auction. Why did you arrange this and not just try to buy them?"

Jasmin: "There are a few reasons for this. I've already been ridiculed by dealers for just 'handing them over to Heritage'. But here were my thoughts: Sure, I'd love to see these books listed on our site, but think about it - when is the last time something like a Tec 2 has come to market? How do you know what to ask? Sure, Nosto pricing data is a great resource, but for books like this, it's very hard to predict what the market could bear. Say I list it at $3,000.00, and it sells in a flash. Well, how do I know I couldn't get $5,000.00?"

"Next, I wanted to be true to the Nostomania philosophy of levelling the playing field, something one of our advisors, Gary Carter, emphasized early on. I had to keep this couple's best interests at heart. To me, the answer was a no-brainer: for books like this, toss 'em in a Heritage Signature Auction, and let the market determine the outcome."

"Another factor was my feeling about Heritage as an organization. I've met most of those guys, and have known Ed Jaster for years. They're all great people. And I have to say, I can't think of anyone I have more respect for in this business right now than Jim Halperin. There are more reasons for this than I can go into right now, but the main reason is that Jim is one of the few collecting 'bigwigs' who has taken Nostomania.com seriously since its inception. He's been very kind to us, acting as an advisor, and assigning an engineer at Heritage to work with us, providing access to their sales data. This data is extremely valuable as fuel for our pricing algorithms. So it feels good to be able to return some good karma occasionally."

Laudon: "Are there any other interesting things about this find you'd like to share?"

Jasmin: "Actually, yes. There was one book they found in a wall while doing some remodelling. It was in an envelope from D A Publishing, and was part of a response to an apparent inquiry on how to create your own comic book. The publisher sent a 'sample' copy of Famous Authors Illustrated 6, which appears to be a file copy because it has a paste-up logo glued to the cover. It may be the mock-up transition issue, since the title was renamed from Fast Fiction with that issue. But the interesting piece of history is the letter content, which states that comic book publishers have 'no souls' and 'hate each other bitterly'. It also mentions the attack on comics for promoting juvenile delinquency that would come to a head a few years after the letter was written. How cool is that? Heritage isn't sure what to do with this, but I hope they offer it as a 'package lot', since it's a neat snapshot of the comic book timeline."


A portion of the letter to an aspiring creator

Laudon: "Thanks Tommy, for taking the time to share this story with our users."

Jasmin: "You bet. Hey, users! Don't forget to head over to Heritage Comics and bid on these books!"

Bullion coin series now supported

Coin users, we continue to expand this area of the site and have just added support for the various modern bullion coin series, including:
  • American Tenth-Ounce Gold and Platinum Eagles
  • American Quarter-Ounce Gold and Platinum Eagles
  • American Half-Ounce Gold and Platinum Eagles
  • American One Ounce Gold and Platinum Eagles
The American Silver Eagles were previously supported.


Prizes

Don't forget, all you have to do is create a single Collection, Wantlist, or Salelist item during the appropriate month to qualify for our sweepstakes. Why not take a look and see what we're giving away (and gave away last month), free as always.

Thanks, we'll see you all next month.

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