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Grading System - Definitions (Mint to Poor!)

The accepted grades of condition for comics are listed below.

Grading comics in this way is perhaps more applicable to American comics as they have the distinct advantage of all being (more or less) the same size.

British comics come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes with consequent storing difficulties. In a sense there is more room for error in grading a British comic

MINT (M)

Perfect and as new, REGARDLESS OF AGE with full cover gloss and lustre with white, crisp pages. The pages must be white. Off-white or cream will not do. No printing or cutting defects, off-centre covers or staples. No marks on the cover whatsoever, not even distributor marks or stamps.

As with coins or stamps, MINT really means uncirculated or untouched and would be those immediately encased for presentation in some way. The true rarity of this grade cannot be emphasised enough.

While there are many examples of Mint American comics, there are far less British comics that would qualify for this grade. 

NEAR MINT (NM) 

Almost perfect, almost as new, with white or off-white pages. Tight, flat and clean with only extremely light wear around an edge or a staple. At first glance you might think it is Mint but a second, closer inspection may reveal a tiny imperfection. The pages should be uniform in colour with no discernible edge difference. No staple rust. Near Mint really does mean near to mint condition. For American comics, a discreet UK pence stamp is permissible.

For British comics, a neat, newsagent name (ideally in pencil) written at the top is permissible.

VERY FINE (VFN) 

Very slight wear beginning to show around the staples and stress points owing to the comic being opened and read (carefully) two or three times and stored away with some care. For American comics, most of the cover lustre still remains and for British comics the cover should be flat, uniform creamy or off-white with only a few very minor stress creases at the spine. For American comics, only the tiniest spine wear at the top or bottom but no cover marks, no tears, no prominent creases (perhaps 2mm and quite hard to spot). The pages can be creamy or off-white but in no way yellowing and with no darker page edges. For Very Fine, think simply Very Sharp.

FINE (FN) 

The basic minimum for most collectors but depends on your budget! This is a comic with wear showing on the edges or stress around the staples. Still clean and flat with a small mark or cover writing but I do mean small. Pages may be yellowing slightly but no brown edges. Above average, read a few times and stored away with at least some concern. A staple may be detached but, if that' the case, the rest of the comic should appear Very Fine.

For British comics, a little more wear on the spine and cover is permissible and there may be some corner curl evident. British comics are all shapes and sizes so corners and edges suffer more. Again, think that this is a comic that has clearly been looked after in its history.

VERY GOOD (VG)

An average, second-hand, obviously read copy with marks and minor defects but still respectable and appealing. Printing lustre almost gone but not soiled or heavily stained and no tape evident, apart from a small piece of magic tape to repair a tear. There is noticeable wear on the spine and even the start of a spine roll and one staple may be slightly loose. The pages may be yellowing with the first signs of slight browning at the edges. The cover could have a tear or crease or the centrefold could have come away from the staples inside. NO PAGES OR PARTS MISSING. It must be complete in every way.

For British comics, all the above applies though there will be slightly more edge and corner wear.

A large proportion of British and American comics that you see for sale will be in VG condition or less.

GOOD (G) 

A well-read copy with minor tears or splits, slightly soiled and marked, slight rolled spine or creases but still complete and acceptable. Most comics that come out of garages and attics are in this grade and the damper climate of the United Kingdom may accentuate that musty comic smell with the pages very often browning (but not brittle in this grade). There may be a large price mark/bookshop stamp on the cover, some tape (but not excessive) and other repairs, corners of covers may be chipped or other small pieces missing but no more than about a 1" off the corner. Loose at one or both staples, but still quite readable. All the above applies to British comics but again there will be more general wear to the edges and corners. GOOD is basically quite a low grade.

FAIR (FR) 

Very worn and soiled with possible small chunks out of the spine or cover. Some tears or heavy creases and marks or writing on the cover/inside. There may be some water damage or staining throughout. There may be a small panel or small coupon cut but all pages must be there. Watch out for those Marvel Value Stamps in 1970s American Marvels and those coupons for free gifts in early 1970s Marvel Weeklies! The pages may be brown and the quality so low that the edges appear delicate. This is basically a very rough copy.

Missing parts are a serious defect. If a comic, British or American, appears otherwise very high grade, a missing coupon or panel would devalue it. A small coupon or story panel by at least a couple of grades, a half page out by perhaps three overall grades. Thus a Very Fine with a missing part should grade no more than a VG at best.

If you are a dealer or wish to sell, perhaps it is better to grade and evaluate the comic overall and then mention the extent of the missing part. Thus your comic may satisfy all criteria for a Fine copy and then potential customers can decide if they can live with a Fine comic with a piece cut or missing.

POOR (P) 

Well damaged and heavily soiled. Also incomplete and/or coverless comics. Not collectible unless it s something very rare or special. Very worn, torn brittle, water-damaged, basically a mess. There may well be a coupon cut, a panel or two cut out. If missing a page this should be noted separately (pin-up pages from American comics were often removed). All the above applied to British comics. This is basically a comic not worth having unless you feel it might be many years before you have a chance at purchasing another.

 

Grading information and pictures provided by  Duncan McAlpine from www.comicpriceguide.co.uk

Other help in this category

First Checks and Assessments

Detailed 10 Point Grading System

Example of 10.0 (Gem Mint Issue)

Example of 9.9 (Mint Issue)

Example of 9.8 (Near Mint - Mint Issue)

Example of 9.6 (Near Mint +)

Example of 9.4 (Near Mint)

Example of 9.2 (Near Mint -)

Example of 9.0 (Very Fine - Near Mint)

Example of 8.5 (Very Fine +)

Example of 8.0 (Very Fine)

Example of 7.5 (Very Fine -)

Example of 7.0 (Fine - Very Fine)

Example of 6.5 (Fine +)

Example of 6.0 (Fine)

Example of 5.5 (Fine -)

Example of 5.0 (Very Good - Fine)

Example of 4.5 (Very Good +)

Example of 4.0 (Very Good)

Example of 3.5 (Very Good - )

Example of 3.0 (Good - Very Good)

Example of 2.5 (Good +)

Example of 2.0 (Good)

Example of 1.8 (Good -)

Example of 1.5 (Fair - Good)

Example of 1.0 (Fair)

Example of 0.5 (Poor)

Example of Rusty Staples

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