ITEM! I wish I had a $100 for every time someone has come up to me and asked what in the name of Odin’s beard trimmer were we thinking when we introduced the wonderously weird and wacky Marvel Value Stamps promotion in 1974. Actually, I probably do have $100 for each time I’ve been asked. I’d just like an additional $100. Hmmm, maybe it’s time to start looking into starting that 4th lawsuit against Marvel. But I digress...
Every Marvel Comic circa 1974-75 contained a numbered Marvel Value Stamp that came with instructions for readers to “Clip ‘Em and Collect ‘Em!” That’s right. We told a bunch of 12 year-olds to cut up their Bronze Age classics. Those same 12 year-olds are now 46 year-olds who would have a $1,450 copy of The Incredible Hulk #181 (first full appearance of everyone’s favorite competitive Canadian cut-up, “The” Wolverine)... if it weren’t for that missing Shanna the She-Devil Marvel Value Stamp (#54, natch) .
You think you feel bad Mister 46-year-old-man-who-still-collects-comics? How about your Uncle Stanley? I assigned Mirthful Marie Severin the thankless job of assembling the artwork for all 100 furshlugginer stamps, which involved ransacking the flat files for beauty shots that mostly came from Silver Age classics. We cut up the original cover art to Fantastic Four #49 to make the Galactus stamp for cryin' out loud! And Jack wondered later where all that art of his went when Marvel only returned a few hundred pages to him in the 90s. Marie’s x-acting x-acto blade is where it went.
And what did you get if you collected all 100 stamps? For those who’s memories are a little froggy, here’s what we promised readers in a Bullpen Bonus Page at the time:
“Well, part of the future value of the whole collection is obvious. For instance, in the next month or three, we’ll be offering you an MVS Stamp Album virtually at cost, so you can paste in all of them and have a complete set — which is bound to become a real collector’s item in the years to come. (After all, didja know that FANTASTIC FOUR #1 is now selling for $50 in many back-issue comic-book stores across the nation, and that SPIDEY #1 isn’t far behind?)”
Of course nowadays FF #1 trades for somewhere in the neighborhood of $41,000 in mint condition. But how about them stamps? Well, let’s do the math. If a copy of The Incredible Hulk #181 is worth $1,450 with the MVS, and it’s worth around $50 without it, then ergo the missing Marvel Value Stamp must be worth $1,400! I put Irving Forbush and his handy Overstreet guide on this project and he estimates that if you use that formula for all 100 stamps (depending on which ishes you clipped ‘em from), the total value for a complete set is therefor something like $11,380 today! Huzzah! So those sets that occasionally pop up on ebay for $20-30 bucks? The bargain of the ever lovin’ century Fearless One! Go get ‘em Tiger! Who says this isn’t the Marvel Age of Creative Accounting Practices?