I Collect So That I Have It

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This is the week that the first auction of the Don and Maggie Thompson Pedigree comics collection will be held, offering a few of the valuable comic books that we bought over the years. Maybe you've seen this feature or this one - and, at a guess, there will be more. The pricey issues aren't in my house any more. First, it was scary to have valuable stuff in my home. Second, it was intimidating to have to care for them. Third, Heritage Auctions' Steve Borock helped me to work out a way to have them after they're gone.

Because my collecting began so that I could have what I want when I want it.

When I was learning to read and such comic-book creators as Walt Kelly and Carl Barks were telling me fresh stories every month, I also learned that what I didn't buy one month would be gone forever the next. I haunted the newsstand and planned my allowance accordingly, because I wasn't going to get another chance at those issues. I certainly was never going to find them at the library.

And pop culture (a term years away from its coining then) was fleeting. Daily newspapers were discarded. Movies passed through theaters in a flash. Even more transitory were the weekly visits of such favorites as The Shadow, Suspense, and Jack Benny. Gone. They could be no more than memories.

Lesson learned: When you appreciate something enough to want it with you - to be able to have it if you want to check a fact or revisit an entertainment at 2 a.m. - you'd better collect it. This lesson learned has a variety of results. If many other people have that same appreciation for an item but don't have the item, it may become valuable. If no one else gives a hang for it, you're going to have to deal with storing it so that you can enjoy it again.
My collection of old cassette tapes?
Not so valuable to other folks.

But sometimes, belongings become too valuable. What if there's a fire? A flood? A windstorm? What if, when you are scanning a page of a comic book, you actually hear the cover begin to tear at the staples? Given that we are only temporary custodians of what we own, we should take the best possible care of our treasures - and then pass them on.

And - lucky for me - we live in an age in which having kept comics in great condition makes them worth more. Because (as you know if you've followed those links earlier) the goal is to replace them with comics in rotten shape: copies that are so beat-up as to be the cubic zirconia to the disposed-of diamonds. So I'll have them, even while I'm getting rid of them.

And the proceeds from the auctions (of which this is, as I say, the first) will go, first, to paying the capital gains tax and, second, to the custody of the guy who's been my financial advisor since before Don died. Last week, he frowned as he threatened, "You know, you could live 20 more years."

So no mink sandwiches. And I hope the new owners will get as much pleasure and use out of my comics as I did.


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