By Dan Coles
This rare collection of ‘cursed’ Stan Lee comics – which was kept locked in a bank vault after surviving TWO burglaries and almost being involved in a plane crash – is set to sell for thousands.
The bundle of more than 100 Marvel comics dating back to 1960 was inherited by army veteran James Linden, 47, after his late uncle Brian Bowler died in March 2017 aged 65.
It includes 126 copies of Stan Lee’s famous Fantastic Four comics including a very rare 1961 issue one which represents the very start of the Fantastic Fours story.
The unbelievably lucky collection almost fell victim to thievery twice when Brian’s home in Birmingham was burgled twice in a six-week period – with the thieves missing the valuable collection both times.
It also contains examples of rare comics which were nearly all destroyed after a plane carrying magazines from America to Britain crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in the 1960s.
James, from Kingstanding, Birmingham, has now decided to auction off the rare magazines on behalf of Brian’s wife, his aunty Joyce Bowler, 66, to support her retirement.
Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Lichfield, Staffs, have set a minimum guide price of £6,000 for the comics, but expect the collection to sell for much more.
James, a builder who is currently not working due to health problems, said: “The Fantastic Four Issue #1 from November 1961 really is the holy grail of comics.
“These comics have been meticulously cared for and that’s why the collection is in such immaculate condition.
“In the 1960s a plane carrying comics from America to Britain crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
“There were two issues on the aircraft which were being brought over that hardly anyone here got.
“To keep his collection going, my uncle wrote to Marvel, which was quite an undertaking – it’s not like today with the internet and emails.
“But he was so into them, he saved his money for a postal order to send to Marvel, and he went out of his way to keep the collection going.
“Once my uncle came home from a holiday in Tenerife in 1985 to find his home in Birmingham, had been burgled.
“If the thieves had only looked under the bed, they would have gotten away with a colossal number of comics which were worth a fortune.
“After the family home was burgled again within six weeks, with the assailants again missing the collection, my uncle decided to keep the comics in a bank vault.
“I’m not sure if they’re cursed, but they’ve certainly attracted some risky situations, so they could be!”
As a young boy, Brian used to save his pocket money to religiously buy the comics.
After the collection was nearly stolen twice in 1985, he moved the comics to a private bank vault in Birmingham
His family began to believe the comics had a natural ability to attract the risk of being taken or damaged – and believe they are the luckiest collection in existence.
Joyce enlisted James’ help for his keen eye for antiques and love of collectables after the retired plasterer previously appeared on Dickinson’s Real Deal.
When Brian passed away, he left a book of instructions for his wife to retrieve the comics from the vault in 2017 and have since been kept in her house.
James added: “My uncle collected the comics since he was 10, he collected them avidly, they were his pride and joy and he knew they were worth a lot of money.
“I remember my uncle showing me the collection when I was a little boy. He kept them in plastic sleeves, and he would turn the pages.
“They have been meticulously cared for and that’s why the collection is in such immaculate condition.
“It’s amazing what you can find if you have a good eye.”
The comics will be sold in an online-only timed auction on the anniversary of Brian’s death, starting on March 23 and closing on March 28.
Alex Keller from Richard Winterton Auctioneers added: “This a truly unique collection, having one of Stan Lees first issue comics from over 60 years ago is sure to be gold dust for any collector.