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To Slab or not to Slab

MattMatt Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 5,555 admin
edited November 2017 in Storage & Archival
Do you think Slabbing is good for Lobby Cards, stills etc. ?

To Slab or not to Slab 11 votes

18% 2 votes
63% 7 votes
Fence Sitter
18% 2 votes
Only to buy with confidence of purchase
0% 0 votes
It's better than paper backing for longevity and protection
0% 0 votes


  • jayn_jjayn_j Member, Singin Dancing Fool, Lobby Master Posts: 707 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
    One problem is that it really only applies to lobbies and stills.  That's a small puddle in a small pond.
    - Jay -
    Curmudgeon in training 
  • MattMatt Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 5,555 admin

    Slabbing comic books...I don't get???

    It's like throwing it in jail and only being able to look at it through the cell window.

  • CharlieCharlie Member, Administrator, Moderator, Game Master Posts: 6,805 admin
    Comic book stabbing is comical (pun intended) as it totally contradicts the purpose of the item - you can't read it anymore once stabbed.  Although I get it for investment purposes...
    That second mouse in the bowl of cream we call life...
  • PanchoPancho Member Posts: 668 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
    I like that my one yes vote = 14% of the poll :-D

    Slabbing is, for me, a valid method of authenticating collectibles as well as protecting them. I have several comics that are approaching 70 years of age that are currently boarded and bagged and I plan to get them slabbed. I have no need to read them again and slabbing helps to stabilise them for the future.

    No-one is buying comics from the 50s to read. There are plentiful reprints that can be obtained to scratch that itch. Similarly, no-one is buying lobby cards to play with them, bend them, sticky tape them to the wall or paste in a scrapbook. Unlike linen backing or paper backing, slabbing a still or a lobby card doesn't alter the card's condition at all and it can always be cracked out later should there be a need to.
  • SvenSven Member Posts: 2,382 ✭✭✭✭ Three-Sheeter
    Im not sure. On one hand i like slabbing because i think i can trust the grade and condition, although Bruce's comment that the grading can be way off worries me. I feel putting the card in a mylar sleeve is just as good as slabbing. 

    I think a slabbed lobby card graded 9 for a big vintage title might attract a higher price than un not sure..hence im on the fence! 
  • HereComesMongoHereComesMongo Member Posts: 938 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
    Slabbing an LC/still makes perfect sense to me, like an MP in a frame.

    Slabbing a comic book is like storing an MP and never looking at it, so I'd gong that plan:

    Mel S. Hutson
    Charlotte, NC USA
    My reference website:
    My Current Poster Collection

  • BruceBruce Member, Captain Movie Poster Posts: 1,024 ✭✭✭✭ Three-Sheeter
    But slabbing itself is not enough. The SLAB itself needs protection, to keep them "from cracking during shipping, scratching when stacked or from chipping when accidentally dropped".

    So the "savvy" collector buys "Slab-Pro® rubber silicone frame protectors"!

    But wait! You should also "use UV Clear protectors to block UV rays from fading your valuable graded comics and keep the slab scratch free"!

    I predict we may eventually see slabbing of slabs.

    The current comic book hobby has tulipomania-like signs, but it may take another generation for the bubble to burst. My five kids have a father who was one of the first comic book dealers and fan publishers, and a grandfather who is a legend in the hobby, and yet none of them ever read comics.

    When I was a kid, I (and a zillion other kids) collected stamps and coins. Take a look at how those hobbies are doing, and you may be seeing the future of comic books.

    But then again, what do I know? :)
    We ( hold 3,000 auctions every other week + 6 major auctions a year.
    See all of our current auctions in one gallery here:
  • jayn_jjayn_j Member, Singin Dancing Fool, Lobby Master Posts: 707 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
    I disagree to some extent as my experience is exactly the opposite.  I read and collected comics as a kid.  paid between $.10 - .15 depending on the year.  I kind of grew out of it around 12 or so.

    My two youngest never had any interest in comics as kids.  But today they are avid collectors and are buying 'graphic novels' for prices starting at $10 and the sky is the limit.
    - Jay -
    Curmudgeon in training 
  • RichRich Member, Dealer, Tea Lady Posts: 237 ✭✭ One-Sheeter

    reading this thread makes me feel a need to post some real information about the comics hobby, CGC (and other third-party graders) as well as it's relation to the movie poster hobby

    first of all, in order to understand the emergence of third-party grading, you have to understand why it came about and As someone who had spent the majority of his life as one of the top dealers of comics & comic art in the history of the hobby (starting as a dealer in 1966), I know the dynamics and the history of the hobby as well as almost anyone. Where the hobby has been and where the hobby went and where it might be going.

    before CGC and in the middle to late 1980s timeframe, comics had become a top-level collectibles arena, in a head-to-head match-up to coins and stamps and sport memorabilia, which were the major collecting hobbies understood by the Main Street population at large. By this time in history, comics had become big business, and as a result, drew interest from the ranks of collectors and dealers of coins, stamps and baseball collecting hobbies. At conventions, we began to see a serious influx of big-money buyers from those other hobbies as well as Wall Street investors looking for other places to put their money, where they could also have fun... and comic books were the place.

    However, there were problems associated with this transitory path, with grading for one and the discovery of unmentioned restoration for another (which was a common problem with less-than-honest dealers).

    Here is a true story:

    at the San Diego Comic Con one year circa 1986 (I believe that was the year), a coin dealer came into the room carrying a briefcase. The briefcase was$h! The fellow's intention was to buy top quality examples of top issues, but he also had a specific wantlist which had the #1's of the major golden age titles.

    He went from table to table, dropping a few thousand here and there until he stopped at one dealer's table and saw a Captain America #1 (1941), which was among his specific wants. The dealer had this comic graded at Very Fine (on a poor to near mint scale). Priced at $15,000, the comic fell right within his wheelhouse and he struck a deal, paid cash and put the comic into his briefcase. Continuing down the same aisle, he spotted another copy of this book, and considering that he wasn't looking for single copies, but rather investments, he asked to see it. He was immediately shocked. because this copy was graded as VG to Fine and priced at half of the copy he bought - and it was in almost  exactly the same condition as the copy he had just shelled out a huge chunk of cash. Flummoxed, as he was no expert in the comics field, he pulled out the copy he bought and showed it to the dealer who explained it appeared to be over-graded and therefore - overpriced. This would of course piss off anyone who felt they were cheated and he marched right back to the other dealer requesting a refund. It was a big stink, but he got no refund. The result was that he was pissed off, realizing he was cheated AND HE LEFT THE FACILITY, WITH HIS BRIEFCASE FULL OF MONEY. NEVER TO RETURN.

    This seminal episode was one of the moments that gave rise to some of the major dealers getting together and discussing how to prevent such an issue in the future, as seeing hundrfeds of thousands of dollars walk off was at best,  irritating. It took a few years, but by the early 90's CGC (Comics Guarantee Company) was born.

    Personally, I don't care for the process. Some of us call slabbed comics 'Coffin Books' because we feel they are dead. Be that as it may, it was an understandable outcome in the comics hobby, where grading had always been rather subjective, regardless of the Overstreet Price Guide definition guidelines.

    CGC created a singular grading system, that all comic dealers would eventually agree was necessary and amenable to the hobby. The system does work.

    Since then, 2 other grading companies have sprouted, CBCS and PGX. CBCS was started by my pal Steve Borock, who had also started CGC (recently the company was sold to Beckett). (note: nobody gives a damn about PGX. They suck as graders)

    Now, what importance does slabbing have to movie posters collecting is a difference from comics, the main reasons being that comics is a much larger hobby by many multiples where condition is of great importance, and that there can be many many copies of almost any comic book. This could not be more different from movie posters than Texas is from New York.

    In posters, very frequently, some titles are known to exist from singular copies. Ergo, you don't always have a choice between a vg and a nm copy. The grading is less important than filling the hole in your collecting and a lobby card that has been  trimmed of it's borders is fully acceptable to some, when no other cards are known. Another factor is that in comics, a Fantastic Four #1 graded 9.8 might sell for 10x as much as a copy graded 9.6, especially if it is the single copy graded at that level. (note, that as more copies of a book in 9.8 surface, get graded  and are added to the census, the values drop, as does the ego of owning the only 9.8 copy). These dynamics do not and will not survive in posters.

    so moving on, what relevance does slabbing have to lobby cards?

    in actuality, not a whole lot. Heritage sells few slabbed cards in relation to it's total listings, while in comics, there are auctions that only offer slabbed books. Action comics #1 in any grade get slabbed (as do most valuable issues). But such a dynamic will never exist in posters, because it isn't a requirement and because restoration has become far too accepted in posters (in my opinion, much to the detriment of the hobby).

    But why does HA offer any slabbed cards at all? Let's take the 1931 Maltese Falcon cards they just sold. Realistically, HA wanted those slabbed so that people would know these already incredibly rare cards (I don't believe more than a few were known to exist previous to these being discovered) were in a league of their own - super-rare and in incredible condition, and they would naturally attract a specific type of buyer who was looking for cards in what some may call "Deke Mint" (in reference to Deke Richards, who only collected top-notch condition items). Slabbing translated to a higher value, and everyone who sells wants a higher value.

    Is there a 'tulipmania' in comics? Well, yes and no. While I fully expected the hobby to implode 20 years ago, it not only has been going strong, it has outshone virtually every other hobby extant other than cars and fine art. There is no hobby like it, so I have to admit that my prediction the hobby was in inevitable collapse was wrong and the hobby is going to continue to thrive, in all it's various forms, even after physical comics cease being printed for new audiences.

    Action comics #1 continues to get higher values and is generally reflective of the hobby and I would say is going to be doing better than movie posters for at least another generation.

    Silicone frame protectors.. are they a bad thing? NO. Why would they be? Is a vinyl cover for your vintage Mercedes Gull-Wing a bad thing? It does protect your car, doesn't it? If the slab was an investment, why should protecting the slab not equally be an investment? Similarly, why should UV protectors be considered a negative? How many of you get UV plexiglas when you frame your posters, to prevent the same fading from the same damaging light rays? Insinuations that these protective measures are not positives is one of the silliest notions there are, when it comes to protecting your financial investment. How many times have we seen posters that have been faded that result in lower values for the posters at auction, like say for instance the Invasion of the Body Snatchers spotlight style half sheet that sold for a paltry $2255.00 just 4 weeks ago, or the style-A that was also faded and sold for a pittance at $310.00? So protecting your  investment with any kind of device or method that is not invasive is a net positive.

    Can movie posters be pushed to the same arena as slabbed comics?

    Unlikely. The main reason being the size of the hobby is infinitely smaller and the supply of the type of merchandise that might require slabbing is also infinitely smaller. The 100 or so Frankenstein lobby cards don't trade frequently enough for a player to say "I'm going to put together a set in NM 9.4 or better" and even if they did, there aren't enough cards in those grades available. Many titles, we don't even know of a complete set extant, in any condition, with some titles known by single cards! This is why some people who do have 8 cards have some missing corners, missing border sections, painted over titles...

    (note: anyone who wants a complete Frankenstein set in NM should just give Feiertag the million he’s asking for his set. It’s their best chance of such a task)

    Plus, only some sizes can be slabbed. Lobby cards and stills are obvious. They are small. Maybe window cards, but the grading companies have to see a financial value to the costs of designing a slab for inserts and half sheets and then  having a fabrication company create the die from which the slabs are produced. It's not happening. This is expensive work.

    Then you have to get to another simple fact - in comics, all dealers are willing to accept CGC or CBCS slabs as accurately graded comics regardless of differences in opinion. So every dealer is willing to accept a grading standard of C-2  for good and C-10 for Mint, but this situation does not exist in posters as long as any dealer uses a proprietary grading method that does not fall in line with all others.  Either everyone adopts a singular standard, or there is no standard.

    Ergo in movie posters, slabbing is unlikely to hold the same position as it does in comic books and baseball cards, for those very simple and obvious reasons.

    The next subject - If you want to consider 'tulipmania type signs', I say that movie posters are far from immune to such a situation. For instance, as a much smaller hobby, one thing that isn't good for the hobby is a regular over-abundance of material dumped into the hobby on a weekly basis. The size of the hobby cannot support many mutliples of any title being sold in a fore-shortened time frame, no matter how valuable, before prices fall, especially in a hobby that eschews a price guide to begin with. That is one thing the comics hobby has that prevents a collapse. For the most part, all dealers get the same prices for comics - within a range - that does not exist in posters. In posters, some people price a Barbarella poster at $395 and others price the same poster at $1495 to a different market. But what if every dealer at one convention had a Barbarella 40x60 at their booth? How would any dealer there get more than the lowest priced copy available? The poster business has a different dynamic working.

    The tulipmani portion is not restricted either. Factually, once you get passed the top items of any genre, many prices are in freefall, because everyone is competing against the lowest prices achieved by one dealer in an auction format.

    How many times do you dealers hear "well, they have sold this poster you're asking $100 for  just $15 at auction recently. Why should I pay you more? I want to give you the same $15!"? So there is a tulipmania, but it's forced by an outlier in this way. This doesn't even speak of the tulipmania that has affected things like B-westerns, Film Noir posters in the (previously) under $500 area and posters from the Golden Age of Hollywood, where the actors and films have been forgotten.

    While I hate to admit it, in many ways, the comic book got it 'right'. Until there is a meeting of the minds in posters, such cooperative methodologies are at best, a pipe dream.

    Rich Halegua
    Visit MoviePosterBid
  • RichRich Member, Dealer, Tea Lady Posts: 237 ✭✭ One-Sheeter
    Matt said:

    Slabbing comic books...I don't get???

    It's like throwing it in jail and only being able to look at it through the cell window.

    by the way, I do agree with this to some good extent. Comics were meant to be read. However I totally disagree with Pancho where he says
    "No-one is buying comics from the 50s to read. There are plentiful reprints that can be obtained to scratch that itch."

    this is false. factually, while many people like reprints, many do not and collect the comics in lower grades just so they can read them. Many others collect coverless books for reading. 1940s-50s comics in lower grades may actually be among the biggest posrtions of the market
    Rich Halegua
    Visit MoviePosterBid
  • jayn_jjayn_j Member, Singin Dancing Fool, Lobby Master Posts: 707 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
    Hi Rich.  Thanks for the thread which is rich in info and light on opinions.  I appreciate the detailed comments on the comics hobby and how it has led us to where we are.  I think the poster hobby may have some different aspects that affect how we collect, store and purchase.

    One sheets outsell any other size by at least 10:1.  I don't see any way to slab them, and display of 1 sheets is very important to collectors.  Actually display is true for other sizes as well.  Since a comic was not meant to be a framed display item, there is more flexibility in how they are presented.  Even if coffins were made for window cards, half sheets and inserts, they would not work with standard frame sizes.  I suppose matting on oversized frames could occur, but frankly I don't want to display the grading sticker.

    I think there is also a difference in the origin and path each took to get to the collector.  Comics came from kids bedrooms.  Most were well read, but some were read once and put away.  I suppose some were dealer overstock, but my memory was that those generally had the cover cut off to be sent back to the distributor for refund.  Posters OTOH were meant for commercial display.  There are very few unfolded posters out there before 1990, and frankly I am often suspicious when one appears.  

    Lobbies in particular often have pinholes.  I do not give my cards a condition hit if there are a couple of pinholes.  I value cards that show history over ones that have had no life.  My limited experience with graders is that even a single set of pinholes will knock grading a full point.

    I agree on the need for a consistent grading system, but I guess I want it to be more poster oriented.  What I mean is flexible on things that make a poster what it is, such as pinholes or folded.  Harsh on wrinkles, mold, foxing, tears, ripped corners, etc.  I don't want to see comic grading applied to posters.
    - Jay -
    Curmudgeon in training 
  • jayn_jjayn_j Member, Singin Dancing Fool, Lobby Master Posts: 707 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
    I think I missed the point on the 1 sheet comment.  Slabbing can only apply to a very small subset of what is already a relatively small hobby.  I question the value to some extent.
    - Jay -
    Curmudgeon in training 
  • RichRich Member, Dealer, Tea Lady Posts: 237 ✭✭ One-Sheeter
    slabbing oversized posters is never going to happen
    Rich Halegua
    Visit MoviePosterBid
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