Did you hear the story about a Batman comic book? Hard to believe.

Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of The Batman, Heritage lot #91114

When Robert Irwin was 13 in 1939, he visited the local newsstand in Sacramento, California, to buy a comic book. Little did he know at the time the good fortune that would come of that purchase.

The comic book was Detective Comics, #27, the first appearance of The Batman. Irwin paid 10¢, the standard price for a comic book in 1939. He put it away and forgot about it for 65 years, until 2004, when he discovered it in a box together with 1930s National Geographic and Popular Mechanics magazines. A collector found out he had the comic book and offered him $100,000. Irwin made another good decision in deciding not to accept the offer.

Eventually the comic was consigned to Heritage Auctions to sell on November 18, 2010. It was listed as lot 92224, with a pre-sale estimate of $400,000+. The owner, Irwin, was in attendance at the sale. He had to be pleased with the final result of $492,937.50, including buyer’s premium. Not a bad return on his 10¢ investment.

Irwin’s comic was graded 7.0 by Certified Guaranty Company. Heritage twice previously sold Detective Comics, #27 in better graded condition. On Aug 4, 2010, an example, graded 7.5, brought $657,250 and on February 27, 2010, another, graded 8.0, brought an incredible $1,075,500. When it comes to selling graded objects, like comic books and coins, condition is key. Slight differences in condition can make for dramatic differences in value.

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