COMIC BOOK GRADING
Publisher Volume No. 1 Issue No. 1 Date: March 14, ,2008
Class of 64 Comics Inc.
Grade Definitions and AnalysisAnyone who has been involved with comic books as a dealer or collector has heard of the CGC, and the Overstreet Grading System. This issue of Comic Update will define each individual grade followed with an analysis of that grade category. We will go into depth with the Overstreet Grading System. Comic book grading has made a major impact on the market since 1997.
The Overstreet 10 point Grading System
Mint MT 10.0 - 9.9
Near Mint NM/MT 9.8Near Mint NM 9.2 - 9.7
Very Fine/Near Mint VF/NM 9.0
Very Fine VF 7.5 - 8.5
Fine/Very Fine FN/VF 7.0
Fine FN 5.5 - 6.5
Very Good/Fine VG/FN 5.0
Very Good VG 3.5 - 4.5
Good/Very Good GD/VG 3.0
Good GD 1.8 - 2.5
Fair/Good FR/GD 1.5
Fair FR 1.0
Poor PR 0.5
Mint (MT) 9.9 - 10.0 Near perfect in every way. Only the most subtle bindery or printing defects are allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and minimal fading. Corners are cut square and sharp. Staples are generally centered, clean and no rust. Cover is generally well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and fresh. Spine is tight and flat.
Analysis: While we think of Mint as being in perfect condition, the definition states NEAR PERFECT. Subtle bindery or printing defects means that perhaps a staple could have been placed in the book at a slight angle or it may be slightly higher or lower than normal. These are factory defects and are hardly noticeable. A printing defect can be a misspelled word or even two words ran together. These factory defects do not make the book less desirable to own.
Near Mint/Mint (NM/MT) 9.8 A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a NM, has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a MT 9.9. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a NM+.
Analysis: Defects allowed in this grade are the subtle bindery or printing defects plus perhaps a slightly evident loss of reflectivity to the front cover. A small, almost invisible stress mark not exceeding ¼” may be on the back cover.
Near Mint (NM) 9.2 - 9.7 Nearly perfect with only minor imperfections allowed. This grade should have no corner or impact creases. Stress marks should be almost invisible. Bindery tears should be less than 1/16 inch. A couple of very tiny color flecks, or a combination of the above keeps the book from being perfect, where the overall eye appeal is less than Mint drops the book into this grade. Only the most subtle bindery and/or printing defects allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and a minimum of fading. Corners are cut square and sharp with ever so slight blunting permitted. Staples are generally centered, clean with no rust. Cover is well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and like new. Spine is tight and flat.
Analysis: The previous grade defects and possibly a small bindery tear of less than 1/16”. Possible color flecks or a combination of the tear and color flecks are all that prevents this book from being a NM/MT.
Very Fine/Near Mint (VF/NM) 9.0 A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a VF+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a NM-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a VF+.
Analysis: A bindery tear of less than ¼”, but more than 1/8” and increased blunting, one corner having a 1/8” or less crease and less than three stress marks on the back cover are allowed defects.
Very Fine (VF) 7.5 - 8.5 An excellent copy with outstanding eye appeal. Sharp, bright, and clean with supple pages. Cover is relatively flat with almost no surface wear. Cover inks are generally bright with moderate to high reflectivity. Staples may show some discoloration. Spine may have a couple of almost insignificant transverse stress lines and is almost flat. A barely unnoticeable ¼” crease is acceptable if color is not broken. Pages and covers can be yellowish/tannish (at the least, but not brown and will usually be off-white to white.Analysis: Defects from previous grades along with a crease of ¼” may be present on the cover. There can be less than 4 almost invisible stress lines on the front cover with one stress line the length of the cover. There can be a slight roll to the spine.
Fine/Very Fine (FN/VF) 7.0 A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a FN+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a VF-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a FN+.
Analysis: In addition to previous grade defects, this comic may have slightly darker pages than the VF criteria. Strong evidence of handling and some increase in stress lines intensity and size.
Fine (FN) 5.5 - 6.5 An above average copy. Book shows minor wear but is still relatively flat and clean with no significant creasing or other serious defects. Eye appeal is somewhat reduced because of slight surface wear and possibly small defects such as a few slight cross stress marks on the spine or a very slight spine split (¼”).
A fine condition comic book that appears to have been read a few times and has been handled with moderate care. Compared to a VF, cover inks are beginning to show a signification reduction in reflectivity but it is still a highly collectible and desirable book. Pages and interior covers may be tan, but pages still must be fairly supple with no signs of brittleness.
Analysis: In addition to previous grade defects, this book will begin to show some definite wear. Stress marks will be evident on the front and back cover. A spine split of ¼” and reduced cover gloss/reflectivity will also be evident. Corners may have a ¼” crease from a fold back and cover edges are becoming slightly frayed in several places along the outer edge. A distinct roll of the spine is evident. Books are still attractive and very desirable to collectors.
Very good/Fine (VG/FN) 5.0 A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a VG+, but it has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a FN-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a VG+.
Analysis: In addition to previous grade defects, this comic book can have up o a 1” split in the spine, an obvious roll to the spine, and may have a tear around the staple. The inside pages may be loose from a staple, but none are unattached. The outer edges of the front and back covers are frayed with 3 or less ¼” tears inward on the outer edge. Corners can have a fold under crease of ¼” or more, but not over ¾“.
Still a very desirable comic book to collectors.NOTE: It is likely that you will have a book that is identical to another book except for more minor defects or slightly more wear. Every defect over the definition limit will drop the grade of the book by one-tenth of a point. Example; The Very Good/Fine medium is 5.0. If a book has initials or a name on it, it will drop to below the 5.0. One mark or name may reduce the comic grade o 4.9. Two marks and/or names will drop the comic to 4.8 and so forth. Take this same book and just have a 1/8” tear or the edges are in a less frayed condition than the 5.0 book and it may become a 5.2, 5.3, etc. The range around the grades allows you to use judgment and reward the better book with a better grade.
Very Good (VG) 3.5 - 4.5 The average comic Book. A comic book in this grade shows some wear, can have a reading or center crease or a moderately rolled spine. It has not accumulated enough total defects to reduce eye appeal to the point that it is not a desirable copy. Some discoloration, fading, and even minor soiling
Is allowed. As much as a ¼” triangle can be missing out of the corner or cover edge. A missing square piece (1/8” X 1/8”) is also acceptable. Store stamps, name stamps, arrival dates, initials, etc. have no effect on this grade. Cover and interior pages can have some minor tears and folds and the centerfold may be detached at one staple. The cover may also be loose, but not completely detached. Common bindery and printing defects do not affect grade. Pages and inside covers may be brown but not brittle. Tape should never be used for comic repair; however, many VG condition comics have minor tape repair.
Analysis: In addition to previous grade defects, several major new defects jump out at you in this grade. Marking on books are covered along with small missing pieces. In this grade marking should be limited to 3 or less on the cover and 5 on the interior pages without dropping the grade. Brown pages are now allowed, but still are not brittle. Tape repairs should be limited to 2”, with no more than 3 per comic. A staple can be detached from the cover, but should not be missing from interior pages. Two staples detached are not allowed in this grade. Outside edges of the book are worn considerably, but not with large torn pieces. As a general rule of thumb, any tear over I” long, any bindery spilt over 2”, any missing piece over ¼” by ¼”, and any triangle missing piece over ½” will drop the book in grade. It may fall to the bottom of the grade or out of the Very Good category altogether.
Good/Very good (GD/VG) 3.0 A comic book that has enough positive qualities to keep it better than a GD+, but it has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a VG-. In most cases, the comic book will have a better appearance than a GD+.
Analysis: All the previous grade defects plus 5 tears or folds and 4 missing pieces within the 1/8” X 1/8” square and the ½” triangle are allowed in this grade. Many comics stay in the GD/VG grade on the lower side of the grade because it covers such a multitude of defects.
Good (GD) 1.8 - 2.5 A copy in this grade has all pages and covers, although there may be small pieces missing inside; the largest piece allowed from the front or back is a ½” triangle or a square ¼” x ¼” . Books in this grade are commonly creased, scuffed, abraded, soiled, and may have as much as a 2” spine split, but are still completely readable. Often paper quality is low but not brittle. Cover reflectivity is low and in some cases is completely absent. This grade can have a moderate accumulation of defects but still maintains its basic structural integrity.
Analysis: A copy that is beginning to look extremely used or abused. This book may be somewhat “ragged” on the outside cover , but still may be of a good enough quality inside to make it a desirable book to a collector. This is why you need to inspect a book inside and outside before a purchase. Numerous stress marks, and a severe rolled cover are strong symptoms of a book in the Good category.
Fair/Good FR/GD 1.5 A comic book that has enough positive qualities to keep it better than a FR+, but it has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a GD-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a FR+.
Analysis: All the previous defects in all grades plus a spine split of ¼ the cover length, 1/8th of the front cover is missing, ½ of the back cover is missing, and one staple may be loose from the cover. Staples show moderate rust. Corners have 1“- 3” fold creases and characters may be defaced by coloring or stains.
Fair (FR) 1.0 A copy in this grade is usually soiled, ragged, and probably unattractive. Creases, tears, and/or folds are prevalent. Spine may be split up to 2/3rds its entire length. Staples may be gone. Up to 1/10th of the front cover may be missing. These books are readable although soiling, tears, Staining, marking or chunks missing may moderately interfere with reading the complete story. Some collectors consider this the lowest collectible grade because comic books in lesser condition are usually defaced and/or brittle. Very often paper quality is low and may have slight brittleness around the edges but not in the central portions of the pages. Comic books in this grade may have a clipped coupon so long as it is noted along side of the nomenclature; ie: “Fair (1.0 ) coupon clipped.” Valued at 50-70% of good.
Analysis: All the defects from previous grades plus addition defects make this book virtually worthless from a collection standpoint. It is not attractive and will be a hard sell at almost any price. Books are readable, but could be hard to read and missing pages, etc; may effect following of the storyline. Basically, the book in this grade is purchased for reading and maintaining a story line.
Poor (PR) 0.5 Most comic books in this grade have been sufficiently degraded to the point that copies may have severe stains, missing staples, brittleness, mildew, or moderate to heavy cover abrasion to the point that some cover inks are indistinct or absent. Comic books in this grade can have small chunks missing and pieces out of pages. They may have been defaced with paints, varnishes, glues, oil, indelible markers, or dyes. Covers may be split the entire length of the book, but both halves must be present and basically still there with some chunks missing. A page(s) may be missing as long as it is noted along side the nomenclature; ie: “Poor (0.5) 2nd page missing.” Value depends on extent of major defects but would average about 1/3 of Good.
Analysis: With all the defects from all grades plus other allowable defects, this book will not be a major addition to your collection. This book meets the lowest criteria for a comic book.
General Comments: Any book that has a
Front and back cover with 1-3 pages missing, is readable and maintains its stability as a comic book is gradable.
Any comic book that has a missing cover, front and back, 4 or more pages missing, and is so badly defaced that it is not readable is considered as a “No Grade” comic book and has no resale value.Questions and answers to comic book grading
Q. I have issue # 121 of the Amazing Spider-man. It has no cover. Does it have any value?
A. Possibly. While this book would not be gradable, it still could be desirable to a collector. This is not a book I would throw away.
Q. I have several comics that have crayon marks and other marks throughout the book and on the cover. The books seem to be of a good quality other than the marks. What do you think it would grade out to?
A. This is difficult to say, but I will give you an example of a situation that could apply to your situation. If you have a new MINT comic and it has a name, a set of 3 initials and X marks on 4 pages in the interior it would drop the grade from 10.0 to a FINE or 6.5 because of a strong emphasis in this grade on the impact of reduced eye appeal . Your book could possibly go into this grade range. The only problem with this book is it has reduced eye appeal.
Q. I recently purchased a comic that was graded 7.5. I looked at several other books that had higher grades that did not seem to be as good as my book. How can this be?
A. Please remember, grading is still somewhat subjective. While consistency is being improved, it still has a long way to go.
You could very well have a better book than the higher grades you saw.
Q. I have a book with ½ the back cover torn off and 5 or 6 pages missing in he book.
This book is worth $125.00 in the GD 2.0 grade in the Overstreet Price Guide. Could a book in this condition be worth $125.00?
A. It sounds like your book could very well be graded FAIR 1.0. Without other serious or major defects it may still be worth a pretty good price from the right collector.
Q. I have a book that is really in good condition. It has been in my attic for sometime and its pages are really brown, but not brittle. What do you think its grade would be?
A. The VERY GOOD 3.5 - 4.5 definition in the Overstreet Grading System states that
“Pages and inside covers may be brown but not brittle. It is likely this would be your comic book grade.
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