Main Points in Grading a Collectible

The Condition and Grade of a Card or Comic

Micky Mantle Graded
A Sports or Non-Sports Card

For a sports or non-sports card, we can break down its condition into the following common categories (jump below for more on comic books):


Your card’s centering:
When card grading, most are concerned with the front of the card, but the back is somewhat important as well. It is expressed in a ratio, such as “75/25” or “50/50.” 50/50 would be a pristine version of centering (equal left to right and top to bottom). With recent technology, the positioning of the card’s printed material is much more accurate, which leads to a greater scarcity of vintage cards that have centering that is appealing to the eye.

Your card’s surface:
Card SurfaceThe surface of a card depends on several factors. Scuffing, creasing, tearing, gloss (or lack thereof), wax-stains and ink marks could seriously depreciate the value of your card. Where is becomes subjective is in what defect a potential buyer is most or least concerned with. A card with even only a hairline crease could bring it down to a VG+ value at best, or a 3-3.5/10. Pencil markings are less bothersome than ink marks, but serious marker inscriptions can put one off completely. Is the wax staining or ink on the front or back of the card? Is the crease in the main body or on the edge or corner? All things to consider. We consider all of these factors when appraising and/or grading your card or collection of cards.

Your card’s corners:
How many of the corners are dinged, frayed or worn? Are they heavily rounded or creased? Corners can be extremely difficult to grade, unless you have a very good magnifying glass and set of eyes. They are perhaps the easiest thing to damage if you drop your card. However, in our opinion, a slightly worn corners on a card that is well centered and retains most of its original gloss can be more appealing than vice-versa. You could have 3/4 corners with mild wear and still be looking at an excellent graded card (5 or better out of 10).

Your card’s edges:
Edges are perhaps what you could get away with the most in terms of defects when faced with a buyer. Barring heavy notching, many cards, particularly those of vintage age, have rough edges simply from the printing process. However, this is equally considered with card grading as edges, surface and centering are. But mild wear may allow you to still get away with selling a super star player or super hero for mega dollars.

Card Grading Range:
The range consists of a scale of 1-10, 1 being poor, and 10 being what is known as “Pristine,” or “Gem Mint.” In between, is the following:

  • 9: Mint
  • 9: Mint
  • 8: Near Mint-Mint
  • 7: Near Mint
  • 6: Excellent Mint
  • 5: Excellent
  • 4: Very Good-Excellent
  • 3: Very Good
  • 2: Good
  • 1.5: Fair
  • Of course, there are often subgrades, or “point fives” in between each whole number.

    DC ComicsA Comic Book
    With a comic book, there is much more to break down than the four points listed above. Here goes:

    This covers most of below, such as corners, eges and missing pieces, but also creases, tears, folds, soiling and the like are factored into more of an “eye appeal.”

    A spine roll can affect your grade, where, from time or pressure of other objects, the binding can curve upward and dislocate the staples as well.

    Are the white to off-white? Or just plain yellowed? Any writing on them? Are they easy to read, or stuck together, or perhaps torn out? These are all questions to ask yourself.

    Damage ranging from light to heavy from water, or other substances that can alter paper products.

    Corners, Edges and Missing Pieces:
    This is factored into the front and back cover and the pages in between. With older comics, pages become brittle, so there is an allowed amount of a piece missing up to a certain measurement within different number grades.

    Comic Grading Range:
    Like sports cards, it is roughly on a 1-10 scale, however when getting nearer to 9 or 10 usually you may see 0.2 increments. Poor starts at 0.5, and instead of excellent, you will find “fine” grades. Mostly on a 0.5 incremental scale, this goes up to mint grades.

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