Stephenson’s Feb. 28 Auction Features Library of Comic Book Pioneer M.C. “Max” Gaines


SOUTHAMPTON, Pa.—On Friday, Feb. 28, the suburban Philadelphia auction house Stephenson’s will present a 202-lot boutique auction featuring the personal library of revered comic book pioneer M.C. “Max” Gaines (1894-1947) and a single-owner collection of well-authenticated professional sports memorabilia. 

Co-publisher of All-American Publications and founder of EC Comics, Max Gaines was the patriarch of a publishing dynasty. He devised the first four-color, saddle-stitched newsprint pamphlet—a precursor to the color-comics format that became the standard for the American comic book industry. All-American Publications—later acquired by DC Comics—introduced such enduring comic-book heroes as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Hawkman.

“Sadly, Mr. Gaines was only 49 when he died, but he left a huge legacy that was perpetuated by his son, William Maxwell Gaines (1922-1992),” said Stephenson’s owner, Cindy Stephenson. “Bill Gaines had the same visionary mind as his father. He reinvented EC Comics by launching sci-fi and horror titles, including ‘Tales from the Crypt.’ He also went on to co-found and publish ‘Mad’ magazine. The name ‘Gaines’ commands great respect in the pop-culture publishing world.”


The personal library of M.C. Gaines, which has been kept intact by the family for three generations, contains fine leather-bound books, many of which retain Gaines’ personal bookplate. Among the highlights is a handsome, gold-embossed 10-volume set of “The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe,” which includes poems, essays, criticisms, five volumes of tales, and miscellany. The set is number 168 of 200 from The Connoisseur’s Arnheim Edition and is estimated at $750-$1,500.

Other important entries include a gold-embossed 5-volume Washington Irving set titled “The Life of George Washington,” No. 284 of 300, Centennial Edition, est. $100-$200; the 1885 2-volume set “Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant,” est. $80-$160; the 1872 Samuel Walker & Co., Boston edition of “The Southern Rebellion,” est. $100-$200; and “The Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society” published in 1830/31 by John Sharpe, Piccadilly, London, est. $100-$200.

Continuing the long list of fine and rare books from the Gaines library are: 2-volume 1938 edition of “The Confessions of J.J. Rousseau, No. 284 of 800, est. $80-$160; a 37-volume set of works by Alexandre Dumas, est. $60-$100; a 1915 12-volume set of “The Works of Jack London,” est. $100-$200; and “The Works of J. Fenimore Cooper,” a 4-volume set published by Porter & Coates, Philadelphia, est. $160-$250. 

Of historical significance is an Oct. 26, 1932 typed letter on Executive Mansion (New York) letterhead signed in ink “Franklin D. Roosevelt.” In the letter, Roosevelt thanks a writer from Pennsylvania for sending suggestions regarding the future US President’s economic plan. The date on the letter is compatible with the time of Roosevelt’s tenure as New York’s governor; however, the letter may have been hand-signed by an aide on Roosevelt’s behalf.

Part II of the Feb. 28 auction is devoted to a single-owner collection of sports memorabilia from Montgomery County (suburban Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. Most of the items from the collection are offered with certificates of authenticity (COAs).

A colorful Charles Fazzino three-dimensional framed artwork depicting Yankee Stadium is titled “In A Yankee State of Mind.” It was created in 2005, is artist-signed and numbered 140/500, and has a Major League Baseball hologram. Measuring 16½ by 35in (sight), it is expected to make $1,500-$3,000. A second framed, limited edition Fazzino artwork is titled “Finally A Subway Series,” referring to the 2000 World Series that pitted the New York Mets against their cross-town rivals, the New York Yankees. Artist-signed and numbered 5/25, it also has an MLB hologram and COA from Museum Editions Ltd.

There are four signed and framed Cooperstown Collection jerseys in the sale, including examples autographed by Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle), est. $300-$700; Stan “The Man” Musial (St. Louis), est. $300-$600; Hank Aaron (Atlanta), est. $300-$600; and Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia), est. $160-$300.

For basketball fans, it doesn’t get any better than a personally autographed overhead image of an airborne Michael Jordan about to dunk a basketball. Titled “Breaking Through,” it is a limited edition piece numbered 39/100 and comes with a COA from Upper Deck. Framed, it measures 23 by 53in wide. Its auction estimate is $750-$1,500. 

A top prize from the football section is a full-size Riddell helmet profusely autographed by Heisman Trophy winners. Numbered “6” of only 100, the helmet comes with a Steiner COA. Estimate: $400-$800.

The collection includes baseballs autographed by Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Schmidt, Derek Jeter and many other MLB stars. Additionally, several autographed bats and posters will be auctioned.

“The consignor was a savvy buyer who acquired only well-authenticated items from reputable sources,” said Stephenson. “I think collectors of memorabilia from all major sports will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of this collection. 

Stephenson’s Friday, Feb. 28 auction will commence at 11 a.m. Eastern Time at the company’s gallery located at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton, PA 18966. Inspection is on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 3-6 p.m., and on auction day from 10-11 a.m. 

All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable or AuctionZip. View the fully illustrated online catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at or

For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail Visit Stephenson’s online at

First image: Bookplate ‘Ex Libris M.C. Gaines.’ Stephenson’s image.

Second image: 10-volume set ‘The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe,’ ex M.C. ‘Max’ Gaines collection. Est. $750-$1,500. Stephenson’s image.

Auction Guide