A rare copy of 'Action Comics No. 1' up for auction

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One of the rare prototypes of 'Action Comics No. 1' will be offered at Heritage Auctions in April.

There are just three in the world. A rare copy of the "Action Comics No. 1" prototype is coming to market for the first time at Heritage Auctions. It will be offered for online auction from April 1 to 4.

More than 80 years ago, publisher DC Comics introduced Superman to comic book fans in the first issue of "Action Comics." The American monthly magazine has since gone down in history as one of the oldest American comic books, and especially the one with the highest numbering. But before it appeared in bookstores in April 1938, "Action Comics" already existed as an "ashcan" that publisher Harry Donenfeld had created to ensure that his competitors could not steal what he hoped would become "the most important comic book" ever published.

This prototype of "Action Comics No. 1" will soon be offered for sale at Heritage Auctions. It comes from the collection of Gary Colabuono, an American comic book historian, who acquired it directly from the former president of DC Comics, Sol Harrison. According to Heritage Auctions, there are only three known copies of this comic book: one is kept in the archives of DC Comics and another was sold for $50,000 in 2010.

The copy offered at Heritage Auctions, meanwhile, is estimated to fetch more than $500,000, according to Penta. "Collectors have come to revere these one-of-a-kind copies; they are not seen as ‘comic books' but a cornerstone of US history and popular culture," a spokesperson for the auction house told the publication.

The early issues of "Action Comics" are particularly prized by comic book fans. One went for more than $2 million in 2018 at Heritage Auctions, while another reached a record $3.2 million four years earlier.

Caroline Drzewinski