Richly visual, historically significant and unique in the dictionary sense of the word, the original Curt Swan cover art for Action Comics #309 helped rewrite the record books at Hakes when it closed at $112,015 on day three of the companys Nov. 19-21 auction. The sale achieved $1,346,848, making it the highest-grossing Hakes auction since the companys launch in 1967.
An extraordinary treasure to comic art collectors, Swans eye-filling cover art for Action Comics #309 is believed to be the only surviving original art from the issue DC Comics tried to recall in the week following President John F. Kennedys assassination. Coincidentally, the issues storyline which included all of the members of the Superman family focused on The Man of Steels friendship with President Kennedy, disguised as Clark Kent.
While there was nothing at all disrespectful about the comic books portrayal of JFK as Clark Kent, a comic book is still entertainment, and its release might have seemed inappropriate at a time when America was grieving over the death of its president, said Hakes General Manager Alex Winter. Although DC Comics did its best to recall the issue, the distribution process was already too far along for it to be stopped. As a result, Action Comics 309, and the cover art we sold, will always have a connection to history.
In claiming top-lot honors, the Swan cover art became the second-highest-priced item ever sold by Hakes. On September 27, 2007, the Pennsylvania-based firm auctioned a pair of rare, giant display dolls of Walt Disneys Mickey and Minnie Mouse for $151,534.35.
The November 19-21 auction also featured a collection of approximately 50 of the late Maurice Sendaks favorite Disney and comic character toys. Over a 40-year period, the acclaimed childrens book author/illustrator had acquired many of his best pieces through Hakes. After Sendak passed away in May 2012, Hakes was entrusted with a selection of his toys to be auctioned for the benefit of the Maurice Sendak Foundation. Bidders recognized the toys rarity and bid aggressively to own them.
A 1930s Saalheimer & Strauss tin-litho mechanical bank depicting a toothy, widely smiling Mickey, whose tongue thrusts forward to accept a coin when his right ear is pulled, was bid to the midpoint of its estimate range at $28,750. Another classic, a circa-1930 Distler Mickey Mouse Organ Grinder wind-up toy with extraordinarily rare graphic box, was assured a premium price due to its complete, 100% original condition. It swept past its $10,000-$20,000 estimate to settle at $27,830. Coming from another Disney collection, a pair of early 1930s Needleart stuffed Mickey and Minnie Mouse dolls with original hang tags on their wrists raced past their $5,000-$10,000 to a final auction price of $25,047.
The premier Julie Powell collection of political Americana, including pin-back buttons, textiles and three-dimensional memorabilia, was the cornerstone of one of the featured sections of the sale. The political Americana offering was topped by two very rare jugates campaign buttons featuring images of both a presidential and vice-presidential candidate. A 1932 jugate from the Powell collection featuring photo images of Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis, and the warning, The Crisis Is Here!, made $13,030. From a different consignor, a Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge photo jugate regarded by collectors as one of the rarest and most sought-after jugates sold near the top of its estimate range at $29,601.
A one-sheet sci-fi poster for the classic 1951 20th Century Fox film The Day The Earth Stood Still exceeded expectations, commanding $13,891; while a 1960s Nomura battery-operated Volkswagen Space Patrol toy with original box had a close encounter with its high estimate, landing at $9,488.
Other notable lots included Carl Barks original full-page art from the 1966 comic book Uncle Scrooge #61, which sold for $16,215; a boxed, circa-1935 Wells OLondon Minnie Mouse pushing a pram with Disney passengers (ex Maurice Sendak collection), $14,375; a 1966 Japanese plastic Batmobile car on original card, $8,476; and an original R. Crumb drawing of Frank Zappa, $5,060.
We knew this auction was loaded with outstanding items, and we had high expectations, but you just never know how things will evolve over the course of an auction. In the end, we were thrilled with the results. The combination of rarity and condition were the one-two punch that propelled this auction to never-before-attained heights in our nearly 47-year history, said Alex Winter. Assembling each of our auctions is an arduous process, but it is always rewarding when the results are successful and we leave both the winning bidders and consignors happy. Never has this been more the case than with auction number 210.
View the fully illustrated catalog from Hakes Nov. 19-21, 2013 auction, complete with prices realized, at www.hakes.com
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