A compact guide on how to determine the grade and condition of comic books
Whether you have been a comic book collector for years or just started your own collection, equipping yourself with enough knowledge in comic book grading is essential.
It will help you determine the value of your comic book collection, and turn you into a savvy buyer of high grade comics in the collector’s market.
What is comic book grading?
The term “grading” refers mainly to describe the condition of a comic book. A professional grader will assess a particular comic book from its cover, the interior pages, quality of the paper, to any visible sign of wear, tear, and other form of defects.
Most grading companies or individual professional graders use the standardized comic book grading system that involves a number scale from one to ten and its corresponding comic book grading terms that best describe the condition of a comic book.
Comic book grading system
The standard comic book grading system that is widely used today is the one developed in the Official Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide.
The book pretty much summarizes all the checking points in determining the value of a comic book, and provides extensive comic book grading scale and descriptions for each grading level.
The generally accepted comic book grading scale, terms, and descriptions are as follows:
• Gemstone mint grade comic book
10.0: Gemstone Mint
Gemstone mint is in every way a flawless copy of a comic book. It is considered a perfect copy and is extremely rare to find today. Most professional comic book graders are in doubt if such copy of gem mint old comics exists today.
• Mint grade comic book
Mint means a nearly perfect copy that still preserves its pristine and fresh looks. There are no inking flaws, no color fading, or any defect visible to the eye except a subtle printing and bindery flaw.
• Near mint grade comic book
• 9.8: Near Mint/Mint (NM/MT)
• 9.6: Near Mint+ (NM+)
• 9.4: Near Mint (NM)
• 9.2: Near Mint- (NM-)
Near mint is a virtually flawless copy with the spine tight and flat. No comic book restoration or whatsoever is permissible. Minor flaws allowed only include a very minimum color fading, a tiny crease in a corner, a bit stress in its staple, and bindery tears no bigger than 1/16 of an inch. Everything else should be flawless.
• Very fine grade comic book
• 9.0: Very Fine/Near Mint (VF/NM)
• 8.5: Very Fine+ (VF+)
• 8.0: Very Fine (VF)
• 7.5: Very Fine- (VF-)
Very fine comics may have a minimum amount of wear, but still looks clean and glossy. Minor creases, a slight discoloration to its pages, small stains, and light spine wear are allowed. The general appearance is still well-preserved and pleasing to the eye.
• Fine grade comic book
• 7.0: Fine/Very Fine (FN/VF)
• 6.5: Fine+ (FN+)
• 6.0: Fine (FN)
• 5.5: Fine- (FN-)
Fine comic book has some noticeable signs of wear, slightly blunted corners, but still looks clean and presentable. Minor creases, a bit bent spine, tiny tears and stains are permissible.
• Very good grade comic book
• 5.0: Very Good/Fine (VG/FN)
• 4.5: Very Good+ (VG+)
• 4.0: Very Good (VG)
• 3.5: Very Good- (VG-)
Very good is a well-worn comic book with some minor visible defects such as creases, rolled spine, small tears, minor tape repairs, soiled, faded and discolored pages. Although the copy looks thoroughly used, it is still intact, completely readable, and its general appearance is still desirable.
• Good grade comic book
• 3.0: Good/Very Good (GD/VG)
• 2.5: Good+ (GD+)
• 2.0: Good (GD)
• 1.8: Good- (GD-)
Good comics still have all the pages and covers intact but the paper quality are already low. Small rips and tears are evident as well as creases, stains, bent spine, writing and stickers on the comics. But all in all, Good comics are completely readable and still good for comic book collecting.
• Fair grade comic book
• 1.5: Fair/Good (FR/GD)
• 1.0: Fair (FR)
Fair is a copy that looks already unattractive with some torn-up portions of the pages, missing staples, major wear, tears and folds, but still considerably intact and can still be readable.
• Poor grade comic book
• 0.5: Poor (PR)
Poor grade is the worst possible condition of a comic book. Parts of the comics are missing with major stains, folded, creased, and torn pages.
Some collectors consider this graded copy as unsuitable for comic book collecting because practically it has no real monetary value.
Types of comic book grading
There are two types of grading comics:
• Do-it-yourself comic books grading,
• Professional comic book grading.
How to grade comic books yourself?
Prior to examining and grading your own comics, make sure that you have a considerable understanding of the used comic book grading definitions and terms.
It is also best to procure a copy of The Official Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide for immediate reference.
You can then proceed to take a good look at your comic book and decide which grading terms (mint, near mint, very fine, fine, very good, good, fair, or poor) that best describe its condition.
Professional comic book grading
Ideally, grading comic books should be done by the professionals. Although grading comics still remains a subjective matter, a professional opinion carries a significant weight that helps eliminate concerns about misrepresentations of comic book grading.
Moreover, professionally graded comic books are worth higher and more desirable compare to those comics not certified by experts.
The best company known and trusted for comic book grading service is the Comics Guaranty Company or CGC. For a certain price, a team of CGC comic book grading experts will examine your comics minutely according to well-established grading standards.
The process basically involves submitting your comic book through an authorized CGC Dealer near you.
After receiving it, CGC experts will soon commence to a meticulous process of grading the comics. If any restoration is detected, it will properly reflect on the certification label.
When all necessary data are properly noted, the certified comic book will soon be put in a state-of-the-art protective sleeve for optimum protection and long-term preservation. After the encapsulation process, the graded comics will then be prepared for shipping.