How to Identify the Age of Your Comic Books
Updated: Jul 30
So you've been digging around your attic and found some comic books. You start thinking that you might have hit the lottery and found a treasure trove of collectibles. Or maybe you've seen the latest Marvel movie and have begin thinking that you have some "old" comics in your closet. Well, before you call your local Mercedes dealer, be sure to read this article. It will help you identify the age of your comics, which can spell the difference between having a valuable collection and a collection that's barely worth the paper it's printed on.
You might be wondering if the age of your comic(s) matters, and it certainly does. An older comic book has a higher chance of being worth money, while comic books that are considered modern are likely to be worth little to nothing.
While age is important, it's not to only factor when looking for an expensive comic book. Content is also king. A Sad Sack comic book from 1963 is going to be worth substantially less than an Amazing Spider-Man comic from the same year. We will keep things simple here and simply discuss how to identify the age of your comic(s) (content will be for another day).
Note that this article is for entertainment purposes only and should not be your sole means of research. We also want to remind anyone reading to be thorough when researching your comic books. If you have a big collection of comics, then be sure to ask around and consult multiple sources before making any kind of financial decision.
If you need any kind of advice regarding your collection of comic books, then note that we provide free advice and appraisals with no strings attached or obligation to sell to us. Note that any advice we provide on our website (or personalized) is just our opinion and we strongly suggest consulting with multiple experts.
If you want to cut out the hassle that comes with selling a collection of comics, then understand that we buy comic collections. Give us a call, text, or email if you're ready to sell. We travel to you and pay cash, so you don't have to do any heavy lifting/labor. We also provide you with all the tools you need to sell your comics (whether you decide to sell to us or someone else).
That being said, let's get on to our list of how to identify the age of your comic books.
Check the Cover Price
Do you want to know of an easy hack to identify the age of your comic book(s)? Here is our first piece of advice. Check the cover price. Almost all comic books have a price on the upper part of the cover. Check out the pictures throughout this article for examples of various cover prices (most are on the upper left or upper right part of the cover).
While the cover price method for identifying the age of a comic may work in most cases, please note that it won't work for some larger or special issues (as well as magazines). Some comics are double-sized or special editions that were more expensive than the average issue at the time, which may throw you off. But fret not, we have more methods to help identify the age of your comic books (as outlined in our next section).
If you're someone with an average collection of comic books (ex: no magazines or double-sizes issues), then you'll find the chart below to be useful.
Most comics with a cover price of 10 cents were published from 1933 thru 1962.
Most comics with a cover price of 12 cents were published from 1962 thru 1969.
Most comics with a cover price of 15 cents were published from 1969 thru 1972. Most comics with a cover price of 20 cents were published from 1972 thru 1975. Most comics with a cover price of 25 cents were published from 1975 thru 1976. Most comics with a cover price of 30 cents were published from 1976 thru 1977. Most comics with a cover price of 35 cents were published from 1977 thru 1978. Most comics with a cover price of 40 cents were published from 1978 thru 1980.
Most comics with a cover price of 50 cents were published from 1980 thru 1982.
Most comics with a cover price of 60 cents were published from 1982 thru 1985.
Most comics with a cover price of 65 cents were published from 1985 thru 1986.
Most comics with a cover price of 75 cents were published from 1986 thru 1988.
Most comics with a cover price of over 75 cents were published from 1988 and up and are considered modern comic books (not old).
If you have a comic book with a cover price of 60 cents or more, then you have what is considered by most to be a modern book. These comics have little chance of being worth something. We equate finding something valuable to looking for a needle in a haystack (you have to be lucky).
If you have something with a cover price of 10 or 12 cents, then you have something that is either from the Platinum, Golden, or Silver Age. These comics are most likely to be valuable. You might notice that 10 and 12-cent comics were published for a long time. This was because of a lack of inflation during these periods. The 70s thru the 90s saw a period of major inflation, which made comic book cover prices skyrocket.
If you want to know the exact year your comic book was published (or if your comic doesn't have a cover price), then you can check by using our next step.
Check the Inside of the Cover
If you're finding that you have some comic books that look old and/or the cover price method isn't working when trying to identify the age, then try this method instead. Check the first page or inside of the cover.
Open up your comic book to the first page, then check on the lower part of it. You'll see some small text/fine print on the bottom of the page. Within the small text, you'll see things like the copyright or publication date. This is usually the most accurate way to identify the age of your comics. You might also see printings on that page, so if the comic is a reprint or has an additional publication date, then you can probably find it there.
You'll find that some newer comics (ex: comics published from the 2000s and up) might have the fine print on another page, so dig around and you'll find it with some effort. You usually want to look for the title page of the book to find the copyright/publication date of the comic book.
Let's use our example below. We've opened this comic up to the first page and you'll see that the date is pretty clearly on the book (on the third line of the fine print). You'll find that this method is especially useful if you have a book that doesn't have the cover price. It's also helpful if you have special issues that might have higher cover prices than the average comic book (ex: a double-sized issue).
Make Sure it is Original and Not a Reprint
So you've done your due diligence and have figured out the age of your comic books. The next thing is to make sure that it's original (and not a reprint). In most cases, you'll be ok if you check on the first page as we've outlined in our previous section. The first page indicates all dates, even if it's reprinted (ex: it will have the date of the original, and the date of the reprinting). There are, however, some comic books that are exceptions.
One of the major exceptions can be the Famous First Edition comics from DC. These comics were produced in the 1970s and reprinted the first appearances of major characters like Superman and Batman. Many people would remove the outer cover (which indicated that the book is a reprint) and try to pass it off as an original. Without this outer cover, the comic will look almost the same except for the size. The reprinted edition is much bigger than a standard comic book. We've provided an example of a Famous First Edition below. The front cover looks different from the original, but once removed, the book will look the same as the original except for the dimensions (the reprint is 10" x 13-1/2").
Be careful as there are plenty of fan-made reprints as well (usually of important/major comics), but you can spot those by analyzing the newer paper quality. Most of these reprints are sold on eBay, so be sure to check there if you feel like your book might be a reproduction.
It's not always easy to spot a reprint, but if you do your research, then you should be able to figure out if you have an original. This section generally applies to those who feel like they've found something expensive. Just check the cover price, dates, and the first page. If they match with examples you find online, then you should be good and might have an expensive comic book (with the few exceptions we've outlined).
Get Expert Opinions
It can be easy to find comic experts. All you need to do is search online for someone who specializes in all ages of comic books. Try not to find someone who only specializes in old comic books (ex: someone who only buys 1960s comics). You want someone who knows about all periods of comics, so they can pinpoint your particular books.
Be sure that any advice that you get is completely free as some places will offer to give appraisals in person, but will charge for their services. If you only want to find out how old your comics are, then chances are that an expert can tell you by phone, text, or email. All you need are some details and pictures.
If you need help finding out the age of your comic book collection and need our expert opinion, then be sure to let us know. We offer completely free advice/opinions on comic book collections. We can also do our best to help and provide estimated values for your collection (or at least point you in the right direction).
Grade Anything Valuable
If you find that you have something valuable, then be sure to look into grading. Some older (or even newer) comic books are worth spending the extra money on grading. We have some helpful articles that can provide advice on grading your comics if you need to be pointed in the right direction.
If you find that you have a collection of comic books from the 1930s thru the 1960s and they look to be in good condition/high grade, then consider sending them to CGC or CBCS for professional grading (especially if you have significant issues). This will allow you to sell the comics for the maximum amount. It will also make selling the comic book(s) easier.
It might cost you a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, but generally, you'll find that life will be much easier if you have older comics that are graded (as long as they are high grade). See our example below of a higher-grade, older comic book that was worth grading. The CGC label provides all the details of the comic such as age. It also verifies that the comic is original and free of restoration.
What if you find that your comics are from the 1980s and up? This generally means that most of your comics aren't going to be worth grading with a few exceptions (ex: key/significant issues or 9.8 comics). Use our grading guide if you need help identifying a 9.8 comic book. Do some research on grading before you send anything in because it will generally cost a good amount to send in even a few comics.
Figuring out the age of your comic book collection can be tough, but it doesn't have to be. If you do some research online and/or ask the right people you should be able to figure out how old your comics are. Just know that having an older comic book increases the chances of having something valuable, but doesn't guarantee it. Also, know that the word "old" is relative, but in comic books, anything published before the 1970s is old, while anything published after the 1970s is considered modern and common. The 1970s itself is debatable.
If you ever need some personal advice on your comic book collection, then be sure to ask us for a free opinion. Just note that any opinion/appraisal/advice we give should not be used as your sole means of information. Always be thorough and check multiple sources before making any kind of financial decision.
If you want to make life easier and sell your comic book collection in one shot, then be sure to contact us. We give fair appraisals and offer cash for comics. Whether you have a small collection of Golden Age comic books from the 50s or a large collection of comics from the 90s, be sure to let us know. We travel to you and take care of all the labor, making life much easier for you. Give us a call, text, or email and we will do our best to answer any questions about your comic book collection.