Comic strip annuals from the past are a gold mine for collectors
Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look a real page-turner when it comes to collectables...
Here we are, the Christmas school holidays nearly over, decorations and toys being tidied away; some already forgotten. When I was a child, the present which kept me entertained the longest was the good old Beano annual, and giving annuals remains a Blackburn family tradition.
I love browsing the centre’s specialist comics and annuals stall, if I can get a look in. Reading old copies of the Beano, Dandy, Twinkle, Bunty and other favourites clearly exerts a strong pull on many of us long out of short trousers.
Annuals and comics are easy to store, bring lots of joy and nostalgia, so it’s easy to see why they are such popular collectables. Emerging in the 1820s, early annuals were typically Victorian: moralistic and elevating in tone, gradually becoming more playful and entertaining.
Early annuals, valuable today, include the Child Companion Annual (started in 1824) Children’s Prize (1863, later changed to Prize), Chatterbox and the Little Folks Annual (both started in the 1860s), the Boy’s Own (1879), Girl’s Own (1880), and the Blackie Children’s Annual (1904).
Becoming hugely popular in the 20th century, some readers may remember receiving Playbox, Puck, Chicks Own, Teddy Tail, and Rainbow (featuring Tiger Tim and the Bruin Boys).
Pricewise Rupert, the Beano and the Dandy continue to command the highest sums. Copies of the very first Dandy annual (1939) have been known to fetch £4,000 and the first Beano annual (1940), up to £3,000. Other 1940s copies in good condition can be worth several hundred pounds each.
A 1936 Rupert annual can fetch £600 - £800, although £2,000 has been known.
Surges in newsworthiness and nostalgia can really boost value of relatively recent examples.
An early Dr. Who or the first Blue Peter annual dating from 1963 for example can fetch around £50-£60.
It was hard to select from the large range in the centre (and not get distracted into sitting and reading!)
But I picked out a 1939 special edition Dandy for £25, and a Broons from the same year for £20.
Nowadays the leading football clubs have an annual and Manchester United’s has been credited as one of the top selling annuals anywhere!
Whatever the collectable value, I like to think of annuals being read and enjoyed. They’re definitely “not just for Christmas”; one from the year someone was born makes a really special gift, similarly for a new baby.
The hardest part may be resisting the urge to read it yourself first!