Tap into James Bond and Spiderman collectibles

This is not the time to be pouring your life savings into speculative investments, but if you're keen to start a new hobby, comics and James Bond memorabilia are two examples of collections that you can can build up cheaply.

This is not the time to be pouring your life savings into speculative investments, but if you're keen to start a new hobby, here are two examples of collections that can be built up with little initial outlay.


Comics have been popular collectables since the 1970s, when nostalgic adults started hunting for their favourite issues from childhood. The rarity of old comics (due to problems with storage and many being thrown out by mothers on spring-cleaning missions) mean early issues have become incredibly valuable. The most expensive comic in the world is the first issue of Action Comics, a US comic published in June 1938. It contains the first appearance of Superman and is valued at around £1m actor Nicolas Cage is believed to own a copy.

The early Action Comics belong to the 'golden era' of the 1930s and 1940s, when the first superheroes (such as Batman) emerged. The so-called 'silver age' of the early 1960s was when Marvel produced Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. These comics sell for less than golden era comics, but a mint condition 1962 copy of Amazing Fantasy 15, featuring the tale of Peter Parker being bitten by a spider and becoming Spider-Man, can sell for £10,000.

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If the price for a piece of US comic-book history seems a bit steep, British comics are "a relative bargain", says Toby Walne in The Mail on Sunday. The holy grail of British comics is the first issue of The Dandy, from 1937. A copy complete with free gift (a whistle) sold for £20,350 in 2004 a record for a British comic. The fact that there are only 12 known surviving copies of the first issue of The Beano means the 1938 issues sell for more than £12,000.

Annuals are also popular with collectors. 1973 Rupert Bear annuals are especially rare Rupert has a brown face on the cover and a white face inside. One sold for £16,500 last year. For a more modest start to the collection, hunt for early Blue Peter annuals. The first appeared in 1964 and is worth around £160 now. The world's most valuable annual is Beeton's Christmas Annual from 1887. It features the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes and is worth over £75,000 today.

The key to a valuable collection is storage. "You must consider how the comic is to be stored as it can yellow and deteriorate over time," Jan Wiacek of Forbidden Planet comic shop tells The Mail on Sunday. "Though the comics may look good on the bookshelf, keep them in a dry place out of direct sunlight." Would-be collectors should visit specialist trade fairs (advertised in Comics International magazine) to get advice and an idea of the market. Also check eBay, which is a huge marketplace for comics, and contains links to specialist shops.

Bond memorabilia

Bond memorabilia is the most sought-after film merchandise on the market. "From original costumes to posters, books and even Dinky cars, virtually anything related to the 007 franchise has seen its value rise over the years," says John Greenwood in The Sunday Telegraph. The most expensive example of Bond memorabilia is the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 that appeared in


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that sold for £1.1m at auction in 2006. Costumes are equally sought after a simple pair of brown shoes worn by Pierce Brosnan in


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sold for £1,000 earlier this year. So the current owner of Daniel Craig's blue swimming trunks is sitting on a gold mine.

The value of items depends on which Bond film they are associated with. "When it comes to the value that the actor adds to collectables, Connery is of course king, followed by Roger Moore and then Daniel Craig," says Neil Palmer, manager of The Cinema Store, in The Sunday Telegraph. "Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby all come in a fairly equal fourth."

The cheapest route into a Bond collection is probably through posters. Original

Casino Royale

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posters are already selling for £50, just two years after the film came out. Posters from the Connery films can sell for up to £6,000.

First editions of Ian Fleming's books are another popular Bond collectable, fetching around £25,000. The key to value when it comes to books is condition. Pristine copies complete with dust jackets and an author signature fetch the most at auction. A copy of


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given by Fleming to the US ornithologist James Bond, containing the inscription 'To the real James Bond from the thief of his identity', is considered the most celebrated inscribed copy, with an estimated value of £50,000. But Fleming's books are so popular that even second editions are collectables. For example, a second edition of

Live and Let Die

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is worth around £500.

Bond toys are also popular, with Corgi cars particularly valuable. Three million models of Bond's Aston Martin DB5 were sold in 1965. Yet despite the high number, a boxed version can sell for between £350 and £500, says James Breese in The Sunday Mirror. An added attraction of Bond memorabilia is its enduring appeal. While other film memorabilia's worth can fade, Bond collectables get a boost "from the marketing of a brand new movie every two to three years", says Greenwood.

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.