As a collector, you could buy and sell these things all day long. But primarily, you may try to add to your collection without breaking the bank. Are low-grade keys profitable? Should you track and buy low-grade raw keys?

Buy Lower grades

Are Low-Grade Raw Keys Profitable?

I have always picked up lower-grade keys, mainly because they were affordable. I knew where I stood with them. Back before 2017, comics like Marvel Spotlight #2 in mid-grade went for about $50, raw. In addition, lower grades went for as little as $20. Essentially, for the cost of a quarter tank of gas, you could have purchased primary keys. Beat up, but otherwise intact and of value in the future.

The Results

Are Low-Grade Raw Keys Profitable?

Now we fast forward five years, and comics are at an all-time high, or close to it.  Every $20 key is worth between $500-$1000. In the past, I didn't have to overextend my budget for comics.  I was only in it for pocket change and the cost of a trip to McDees. This approach of buying cheap, damaged keys can build any Silver, Bronze, and even Copper Age collection of low-grade to mid-grade keys for a very reasonable price, even in today's market.

Buying Big Keys in Low-Grade

The approach also applies to big keys like Amazing Spider-Man #1 or Amazing Fantasy #15. The only difference is I would suggest neophytes stay with graded slabbed books. Why? Simply put, it is easier to sleep at night on your investments if you know it has a certain level of verified status, grade, and therefore price protection.

Decoded: Common Dryer Cycles, Explained | The Maytag Store

Silver and Bronze Cycle?

I think we’re getting to a time in this collectibles cycle where it is harder and harder to obtain Silver and Bronze Age keys. The prices have increased substantially for low-grade keys. The cheaper keys in the past due to quality issues, spine ticks, blunted corners, subscription creases, etc are now at a premium. That said, they are still substantially cheaper than high-grade keys.  The upper-grade and the mid-grade keys are truly at stratospheric price points. 

Collectible Cycle

The cycle of any collectible is only as strong as the demographics behind it. Yes, rarity is important, but what is more important than rarity is interest in the item and desire and demand pushing those prices. If you remove demand, it doesn’t matter if the item is a 1/50 variant or one of a kind. The end result is the same, no value-added and no demand equals price decline. 

John Wayne was much better at riding and fighting than singing

The Westerns

The Greatest Generation fought WWII and came home to enjoy westerns. They loved western books, TV shows, movies, and comics. Prices for western comics rose until about the mid-80s then a steady decline. Why?

One reason is that the generation that loved that material was dying off, sadly. Also, they were no longer in control of what was considered popular; the Baby Boomers were on the scene, which led to superheroes being preeminent in comics. The point? The demographics are still lining up for comics as a viable collectible investment.


Are Low-Grade Raw Keys Profitable?

For the first time in comics, there are multiple generations following Silver, Bronze, and Copper Age comic books. The Baby Boomer, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and even Gen-Z buy and sell these hallowed books. Add to this is the impact comic book movies from Disney have on future generations.

After Gen-Z, will new generations be as enamored with capes and cowls as we are? I don't think so. But those changes are at least 20 years from now. By my count, there are at least four generations of potential collectors involved in the top three ages. That is one heckuva lot of people buying the same books. Are low-grade keys the answer to this outsized demand?

Note: As this Memorial Day passes, remember the Greatest Generation and their accomplishment of saving the entire world from tyranny and fascism. It helps to put comics and all other pursuits in life in perspective.

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Are Low-Grade Raw Keys Profitable?*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.