A fine copy of the very first issue of the Beano has sold at auction for £8700. Beano Comic No 1 from July 1938 debuted characters such as Big Eggo, Morgyn the Mighty, Contrary Mary and the long-running favourite Lord Snooty and his Pals.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell
This issue came for sale at Comic Book Auctions on March 3 from an ephemera collector of more than 40 years who had bought it in the early 1980s.
It was missing the ‘Whoopee Mask’ issued as a free gift (that seldom survives) and was slightly marred by staple rust but did include the four-page promotional flyer that was issued with No1 and No2 and slipped inside copies of Hotspur, Adventure, Rover, Skipper and Wizard.
A mini comic in its own right, it is worth £200-300 on its own but much more when it is sold together with a ‘parent’ comic.
“Most iconic and sought after”
The successful online bidder based in a Singapore, was described by auctioneer Malcolm Phillips as “not a general comic collector but a buyer of key items who recognised this as the most iconic and sought after of British comics”. The price with 19% buyer’s premium added was over £10,350.
Although rather more than the tuppence it cost 81 years ago, several copies of Beano No1 have made more in recent years, including the exceptional copy sold for a triple-estimate £15,175 in 2015, again at Comic Book Auctions. to a Scottish collector. It was doubtless that price that led the recent copy to be estimated at £9000-11,000.
The record for any British comic, also held by Comic Book Auctions, remains with the Beano’s slightly earlier DC Thomson stablemate. In 2004, CBA took £18,500 for a copy of the December 1937 first issue of the Dandy that still retained the promotional free gift, an ‘Express Whistler’.
The survival of free gifts can double the price of a comic in today’s condition-obsessed market.
Only one copy of Beano No1 is known to have retained its ‘Whoopee Mask’ (it was sold by Comic Book Auctions back in 1999 for £6200 and would today make much more) but Phillips is excited to have a copy of Beano No1 in his next sale in June that includes a give-away tinplate jumping frog. These too are extremely rare: placed inside the comic by the newsagent, rather that stapled in, or simply discarded when they ceased to jump, only a handful have survived. The estimate will be £3000-4000.