Super-rare near mint copy of Action Comics #1 headed to the auction block

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Jul 24, 2014, 3:53 PM EDT

Another original copy of Superman's first comic-book appearance has surfaced, and it's in remarkably good shape.

Action Comics #1, featuring Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's first Superman story, is the Holy Grail of comic-book collecting, not just because of its cultural value as the book that kicked off the Golden Age of Comics and superhero comics in general, but because of its rarity. It's been 76 years since the book hit newstands, and it's believed that there could be fewer than 100 copies left in existence (depending on how many people still have one tucked away in a closet somewhere). Of those dozens of copies, very few are in good shape, since the books were both heavily read upon release and not stored in optimum conditions for preservation. So finding a copy of Action #1 in any condition is rare, but finding one that's nearly perfect is almost unheard of.

Next month, collectors will have a chance to get their hands on a copy of Action Comics that's received an incredible grade of 9.0 (out of 10) from the Certified Guaranty Company. It's one of only two copies of Action #1 ever to be graded with "perfect white" pages, and also only the second copy of the book ever to get a 9.0 grade. The other 9.0-graded copy of Action Comics #1 ended up selling for a record $2.16 million, so expect this one to fetch a hefty price too.

How did the book remain in such good shape? Well, according to seller Darren Adams, the book's original owner kept it in a cedar chest in a high-altitude area of West Virginia for several decades, and keeping it in that cool, dark and dry environment preserved the pages. From there, it passed through the hands of collectors and dealers who knew how to preserve its condition, so it's remained in near-pristine shape for three quarters of a century. 

Now Adams is ready to part ways with the book, which he'll do via an eBay auction that will begin three weeks from today, on Aug. 14, and continue until Aug. 24. Adams said he chose eBay because he wants as many people as possible to have an opportunity to buy the book, and even mentioned that he'd love to see it go to a museum so it can be regularly viewed by the public.

“I felt this book deserves to have as much publicity as possible because of what it is,” Adams said. “It is the cream of the crop and it doesn’t get any better than this.”

A portion of the proceeds from the book's sale will also go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the nonprofit founded by the original big-screen Superman and his wife, which is dedicated to furthering research into spinal cord injuries and improving the quality of life of people living with paralysis. 

So if you're a millionaire, or if you and several hundred of your close friends all want to share this super-rare comic book, be sure to check out the auction when it kicks off next month. For more information, including a video detailing the book's history and grading, head to the auction page HERE.

(Via Time)