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How To Properly Grade Your Comic Books

Feb 29, 2008
Understanding how to grade comic books is an essential skill for any collector. The grade of a comic book will determine its overall value. This makes grading a very valuable skill for both sellers and collectors of comic books.

A comic book that has a higher grade will naturally be with more money that one of the same issue that is a lower grade. If you are a collector or seller of comic books it is important to take some time to learn how to grade them properly.

In order to assess a comic books true value its physical condition must be determined. In any case the better condition of the comic book means the more valuable and desired the comic be will be. If you plan to sell a comic or send it in for a CGC grade it is very important to be able to properly grade it.

Every part of the comic book needs to be looked at to assess the total grade. The following are the major areas of a comic book that should be looked at before assigning a grade.

Check the comic for any tears, markings, tape, soiling, brittleness or other defects. The inside pages, spine and covers need to be examined. The outside spine and covers will also need to be closely examined. After the comic is examined in this way, the reader can then begin to consider an overall grade for the book.

The grading of a comic is done by looking at the book and describing its current condition. Conditions range from mint to poor with many grades in between.

Comic books may fall into one of the following grades: mint (9.9 - 10), near mint/mint (9.8), near mint (9.2 - 9.7), very fine/near mint (9.0), very fine (7.5 - 8.5), fine/very fine (7.0), fine (5.5 -6.5), very good/fine (5.0), very good (3.5 - 4.5), good/very good (3.0), good (1.8 - 2.5), fair/good (1.5), Fair (1.0), poor (0.5).

Many variables influence the evaluation of a comic books condition and must be taken into consideration. Although the grade of a comic book is based upon the accumulation of defects, some defects may be more extreme for a certain grade as other acceptable listed defects are rarely found.

Grading is a very subjective aspect of determining a comic book's value. It is very important for the grader to not go lightly on the grading and grade by what the eyes actually see. Remember that grading a comic book as 'mint' can be risky, especially if you plan to sell it. A true mint comic book would have virtually no flaws whatsoever.

Comics in mint condition are extremely rare, particularly vintage ones. Remember that what you may consider a minor flaw may be considered a serious imperfection by someone else. Grading a comic as 'near mint' will help to avoid any potential conflicts with a buyer

Price guides are also important tools for collectors looking to sell their collection or determine their collection's worth for insurance purposes. With the frequent use of online auctioning services like eBay, price guides such as The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and Wizard Magazine have seen dramatic declines in sales because their price listings were not reflective of the actual sale prices of comics.

Nostomania was the first online site to present a price guide generated completely from sales data captured from online sources It currently provides access to two years worth of online sales.

Recently established independent companies, such as Comic Guaranty LLC (CGC) and Professional Grading eXperts LLC (PGX) provide expert third party grading services for comics. Comic books can be sent to these companies for independent, impartial certification, including grading, restoration check and encapsulation within a tamper-evident protective holder.

This third party certification enabled increased liquidity of comic books by removing disputes over grading and by disclosing restoration, and accelerated sales of comic books through online auction sites such as eBay. Certification was also a convenience to comic price guide providers.

Certification removes the uncertainty about the actual grade of the comic book being sold. Individual and/or aggregated reports of certified comic book sales are available through the Comics Buyer's Guide and the CBG Standard Catalog of Comic Books.

In addition, GP Analysis for CGC Comics specializes in CGC certified comics and offers collectors an online database of all CGC sales recorded from major auction houses around the world. GP Analysis tracks, records and offers analysis tools which can assist in determining values of certified comic books. The information is updated daily and often represents thousands of comic book sales in the millions of dollars.
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