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A rare collection of Marvel comics are being auctioned off in Lichfield.
The 1960s Fantastic Four publications were built up from issue number one by Birmingham man Brian Bowler.
Mr Bowler died in March 2017, aged 66, and his collection of 100 comics will now be sold by Richard Winterton Auctioneers in an online-only auction on 23rd March.
“Issue number one from November 1961 really is the Holy Grail of comics,” said Mr Bowler’s nephew James Linden.
“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.”
James revealed how his uncle had been desperate to track down some of the issues.
He said: “In the 1960s a plane carrying comics from America to Britain crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. As a result 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 off to Marvel. It 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. He went out of his way to keep the collection going.”
Eventually Mr Bowler resorted to keeping the comics in a bank vault after his home was raided twice – luckily, each time the burglars missed the collection.
“Once he came home from a holiday in Tenerife to find his home in Lozells had been burgled,” said James.
“Jewellery, electrical items, all were taken. But if the thieves had only looked under the bed they would have gotten away with a colossal amount of comics which were worth a fortune.
“They were burgled again six weeks later but fortunately they again missed the collection.
“From then on, he kept the comics in a bank vault.”
Mr Bowler’s widow, Joyce Bowler, 66, has decided to part with the comics to help support her retirement.
She sought the advice of her nephew James due to his love of collectables and eye for antiquities.
James, 47, has previously appeared on Dickinson’s Real Deal and enjoys trawling car boot sales and antiques fairs.
“It’s amazing what you can find if you have a good eye,” he said.
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