Spider-man and friends swing into antiques auction

Every superhero needs an origin story – and the birth of Britain’s love affair with characters more familiar today from movie franchises is recalled in a large collection of comics going under the hammer in the Cotswolds.

In 1972, Marvel UK was formed to reprint US-produced stories for the British weekly comic market, exposing UK children to superheroes like Spider-man, The Hulk, and the Fantastic Four without having to purchase expensive and hard-to-find American imports.

The Mighty World of Marvel featured a host of now-familiar characters, some of whom were to receive their own spin-offs. Spider-Man Comics Weekly was the first, reproducing the entire series of the The Amazing Spider-Man, which had been published monthly Stateside since 1963.

In 1973 Marvel UK launched The Avengers, starting with material from issue 4 of the US series which reintroduced Captain America – issues 1 to 3 were reprinted in The Mighty World of Marvel.

In 1974 Marvel UK launched Dracula Lives! and Planet of the Apes from their parent company’s Marvel Monster Group brand.

Forty years after publication, those superheroes are still big names: Spider-man and Planet of the Apes are playing on the big screen this summer, with Thor striding back into cinemas in the autumn.

And hundreds of issues of the 1970s comics will be going under the hammer at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester on Friday, July 21.

A collection of Spider-Man Comics Weekly includes numbers 1 and 2, along with assorted copies between 31 and 157, and will be sold along with issues 158 to 227 of Super Spider-Man and the Titans.

A separate lot includes The Super-Heroes, issues 2, 8, and 9 to 50; Captain Britain, from issue 1 to 38; and 38 assorted copies of The Avengers, ranging from no 4 – their first appearance outside The Mighty World of Marvel – to 148.

The Mighty World of Marvel starring The Incredible Hulk, issues 44 to 111 and 148 to 246 comprise a further lot, as does The Titans, issue 1 to 15, and 19 to 58.

One hundred and one copies of Planet of the Apes, a mostly complete set from issue 23 to issue 120, will be sold as a single lot.

And a mixed lot comprises copies of comics featuring Captain America, Luke Cage - Power Man, Iron Fist, Superman, The Incredible Hulk, The Defender, Dare Devil, Thor, and Fantastic Four, including issues 1, 2 and 5 of this series.

Each lot carries an auctioneer’s estimate of £80 to £120.

As a 1960s newspaper photographer, Spider-man’s alter-ego Peter Parker would have been used to the sound of typewriter keys tapping out copy for the Daily Bugle. And perhaps the publication’s roving reporters might have been armed with portable typewriters like The Junior.

The Junior was invented by New Yorker Charles Bennet in 1907, and production lasted just three years. At the time, The Junior – at 10.5 inches wide by 5 inches deep – was the smallest keyboard ever produced. The example at the saleroom is expected to achieve between £50 and £80.

Also key-operated is a circa 1910 cash register by National of Dayton, Ohio. This example – a series 346 – is in foliate scroll decorated chromed brass with marble hand rest and was designed for the UK market, with prices in pounds, shillings, and pence. A bid of between £100 and £150 should set this particular till ringing.

And speaking of rings, the star lot of the auction could also be one of the smallest: an art deco diamond ring with three carats of diamonds - the central diamond weighing 0.7 carats – mounted on a platinum band.

With an auctioneer’s estimate of £1,500 to £2,000, the ring could be perfect for any romantic gentleman planning a summer wedding proposal.

For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk