The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


Len Brown and Malcolm Willets of Collectors Book Store in Los Angeles, along with our very good friend Gene Kousek became involved in some of the truly great comic finds of the 1960's, and one of their greatest finds was the Bolle (Boley?) collection out of Decatur, Illinois. Gene estimated as many as 100,000 books, althought a recent phone converstaion with Len Brown put it at closer to 90,000 plus comics. As Len remembers it Gene drove them to the store front where the comics were housed-- an old building in an old neighborhood that was currently catering to slot-car racing, but that may have been a mom/pop grocery of confectionery store at one time. They were ushered down a short flight of stairs into a basement with a low ceiling, where they found orange crates piled almost to ceiling full of comics.

There was one lone light toward the middle of the basemnt, but the crates against a wall facing them cotained E.C. comics, books that were fairly common in the 60's, and there may have been a few early Marvel titles as well. Also against this "main wall" Classics Comics, Classics Illustrated and Disney's were also filed. Gene remebers that it was in this area that a stack of coverless White Indian #1's were sitting on the floor. The rest of the accumulation were in boxes that seemed to stretch into infinity along the right side; crate after crate ofcomics dating back to 1943. All these books were in alphabetical and numerical order, and for the most part in fine or better condition. They were used for trading with kids (and adults) in the area for comics that Bolle needed for his collection up in the attic. Len estimates that there were at least 30,000 one of-a-kind comics in the attic, but that many of these were in only fair to good condition. Some of them had been water damaged, probably from a leak in the attic ceiling, and the books were beginning to tan probably from the exposure to attic heat in the summer. These books dated back as early as 1936, and as I stated could have been in better condition.

At the time Len was more interested in the books in the attic then the ones downstairs, which he considered very common. At the time Collectors had heavy inventories of many of these titles, including the E.C .'s, while the books in the attic, especially the 1936-1943 titles were definitely of interest, even in the condition they were in. Based on condition they offered $10,000 for that upstairs collection, which according to Len really didn't have many key issues,all though it was suspected that some of the number one issues may have been stored elsewhere, or might possibly been place in a bank vault lock box.

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Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #72 May 16, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.