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Grading Guide

Comic Book Grading Guide

Comic Book Grading Guide
 

Allowable Defects Per Grade

Gem Mint 0
Mint 1
Near Mint / Mint 1-2
Near Mint + 2-3
Near Mint 2-3
Near Mint - 3-4
Very Fine / Near Mint 4-6
Very Fine + 4-7
Very Fine 5-7
Very Fine - 5-8
Fine / Very Fine 6-10
Fine + 6-11
Fine 7-12
Fine - 7-13
Very Good / Fine 8-13
Very Good + 9-14
Very Good 10-15
Very Good - 10-16
Good / Very Good 11-17
Good + 12-18
Good 13-19
Good - 13-21
Fair / Good 14-23
Fair 15-24
Poor 16-25
 

Grading Description

GEM MINT (10.0)
  • Absolutely perfect in every way to the naked eye. Overall look is as if it had never been handled or released for sale.
  • Corners are sharp and square, cover inks are bright and reflective, spine is tight and flat, staples are centered, pages are white and supple.
  • No soiling, no wear.
 
MINT- (9.9)
  • The best possible existing condition of a comic book. A near perfect book. An extremely exceptional comic with only very minute printing or bindery defects.
  • The books cover is flat and without surface wear. No autographs or writing is allowed on either the cover or interior pages.
  • Cover inks are exceptionally bright with high gloss. The books corners are perfectly square and sharp.
  • Interior pages must be white in color and supple to the touch.
 
NEAR MINT/MINT (9.8)
  • This comic book will have at most a few very, very minor flaws. Perhaps a slightly blunted corner, a spine corner showing a tiny hint of wear or a very tiny spine stress mark.
  • Subtle bindery or printing flaws, such as slightly off-center registration, are allowed.
  • Corners are sharp and square, cover inks are bright and reflective, spine is tight and flat, staples are centered, pages are white and supple.
  • No cover soiling, creasing, tearing, or pieces missing.
 
NEAR MINT+ (9.6)
  • Nearly perfect with only minor imperfections. Overall look is as if it had just been purchased from the newsstand and probably not even read.
  • Subtle bindery or printing flaws allowed, including a 1/16" bindery tear.
  • Corners are sharp and either square or with ever-so-slight blunting, cover inks are bright and reflective, spine is tight and flat, staples are generally centered, pages are at worst off-white and supple.
  • No cover soiling, creasing, tearing, pieces missing, or wear.
 
NEAR MINT (9.4)
  • A nearly perfect copy that looks brand new with only a few very subtle/minor defects. Acceptable minor defects on a NM copy include: A very small amount of spine stresses without color breaks, very minor instances of denting (two or three at most), slight corner blunting, and minor (less than 1/8") bends without color breaks.
  • Cover is fairly well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. The cover is flat with no surface wear. Inks are bright with high reflectivity and very little fading. Some of the color may have chipped or flaked off of the cover.
  • Corners are cut square and sharp with very slight blunting permitted.
  • Spine is tight and flat. A slight stress line by the staples. The staples themselves are generally centered clean with no rust. All stress marks should be almost invisible and bindery tears must be less than 1/16 inch.

     

  • Only the most subtle binding and/or printing defects allowed. Unobtrusive date stamps or arrival dates in pencil or ink are acceptable and paper is supple and like new.
  • On the ten-point grading scale, a lower grade like 9.2 (below) will allow these defects in a greater quantity and degree than a higher grade like 9.8, which sometimes may have no discernible defects at all. In some cases it is possible for a comic shipped brand new from the publisher, or purchased new from a comic store's shelves, to already be in less than near mint condition due to the way the comic was produced, shipped, stored, or handled prior to purchase.
 
NEAR MINT- (9.2)
  • The cover is relatively flat with almost no surface wear and the cover inks are generally bright with medium to high reflectivity. One minor crease is allowed in this grade.
  • The spine is almost completely flat but may have a couple of very small stress lines at the most 1/4 inch the surface color around the line must not be noticeably broken.
  • Cover inks are bright and reflective, spine is tight and flat, staples are generally centered. The staples may show some discoloration, but it's not too noticeable on first glance.
  • The inside pages and covers usually will be off-white to white, but can be creamy or slightly yellowish.
 
VERY FINE/NEAR MINT (9.0)
  • Outstanding with excellent eye appeal. Overall look is as if it had been read a few times and carefully handled.
  • Very minor cover soiling or foxing is allowed. No tearing or pieces missing. Cover may have minimal surface wear with a possible 1/4" or smaller bend that doesn't break color.
  • Limited number of bindery or printing flaws allowed. Corners may have very minor wear and cover inks are bright and moderate to highly reflective.
  • Spine is almost completely flat with a possible minor color break, staples may have slight discoloration.
  • Pages can be at worst cream but still supple.
 
VERY FINE+ (8.5)
  • Outstanding with excellent eye appeal. Overall look is as if it had been read a few times and carefully handled.
  • Limited number of bindery or printing flaws allowed. Corners may have minute wear, cover inks are bright and moderate to highly reflective.
  • Very minor cover soiling allowed. A small tear is allowed, but no pieces missing. Cover may have minimal surface wear with a possible 1/4" or smaller bend and color break.
  • Spine is almost completely flat with a possible minor color break, staples may have slight discoloration.
  • Pages may be cream to light tan and supple.
 
VERY FINE (8.0)
  • A VF copy has minor defects, but is in overall excellent condition. Most well-kept modern comics fall into this grade.
  • Some of the above defects (VF+) along with a small fold or crease in the cover. A few small chips on the cover. The cover has some slight surface wear but still has its original gloss and there is nothing major wrong with it. There may be minor corner wear.

  • a light accumulation of spine stress that may include color-break, a light accumulation of dents, and bends or folds less than 1/4" (note that on a VF copy, some color-break is allowed in a bend/fold).
  • Very few stress marks on spine. Overall an exceptional, still very collectible. This grade still has excellent eye appeal.
 
VERY FINE- (7.5)
  • It looks like is as if it had been read a few times and carefully handled. Limited number of bindery or printing flaws allowed.
  • Corners may have some wear, cover inks are moderate to highly reflective, spine is almost completely flat with possible minor color breaks.
  • Some cover soiling or minor tearing. Still no pieces missing. Covers may have minor surface wear with possible minor creasing. Staples may have slight discoloration.
  • Pages are cream to light tan and still fairly supple.
 
FINE/VERY FINE (7.0)
  • Above-average copy that shows minor wear but is flat and clean with good eye appeal. Looks like it has read a few times and handled with moderate care.
  • Minor cover soiling and staple tears are allowed. No pieces missing. Cover may have minor surface wear with minor to moderate cover creases. Corners may have some blunting. cover inks may be less bright or have reduced reflectivity.
  • Some accumulation of bindery or printing flaws allowed. Spine may have a minor roll with a possible 1/4" split or color break. Staples may have minor discoloration.
  • Pages can be tannish but fairly supple.
 
FINE+ (6.5)
  • Above-average copy that shows minor wear but is fairly flat and clean with good eye appeal. It looks like it has been read a few times and handled with moderate care.
  • Minor cover soiling and small staple tears allowed. A very tiny piece may be missing. Cover may have minor surface wear with minor to moderate creases. Corners may have blunting and cover inks may be less bright or have reduced reflectivity. Minor cover soiling and a very tiny piece may be missing.
  • Small staple tears allowed and may have minor discoloration. Some accumulation of bindery or printing flaws allowed. Spine may have minor Rolling with a possible 1/4" split and minor color breaks.
  • Pages can be tannish but fairly supple.
 
FINE (6.0)

 

  • A comic in Fine condition is considered "above average" but still displays some wear. In general, the eye appeal is somewhat reduced due to either an accumulation of minor defects or one or two moderate defects.
  • Acceptable defects on a Fine copy include: Slight spine roll, a moderate accumulation of spine stresses that may break color, a spine split of less than 1/2", minor water spotting or residue (less than the size of a dime), an impacted corner, and moderate foxing.
  • It may have one major defect like a larger piece out of the cover (1/4 inch to 1/8 inch) or a one-inch plus tear as long as the rest of the comic has no other noticeable damage or defects. Basically, if the comic has has a tear yet otherwise looks to be in Very Fine/Near Mint condition then it may be placed in this grade. If it has a tear among any other noticeable defects then it should be dropped down to a lower, correct grade depending on the size of tear and other defects involved.
  • The cover and/or inside pages could have minor tears and/or folds. It can be loose from one staple, but cover cannot be completely detached from interior. Some discoloration, fading in colors and even minor soiling is allowed.
  • It has stress lines around the staples and creases from the opening and closing of the cover. It may have a reading or subscription crease or a rolled spine, but is not damaged enough to reduce eye appeal dramatically.
  • The whiteness of the pages has been changed to off-white to yellowish color.
 
FINE- (5.5)
  • Above-average copy that shows minor wear but is fairly flat and clean with decent eye appeal. Looks like it has been read several times and handled with moderate care.
  • Accumulation of bindery or printing flaws are allowed. Corners typically have blunting, cover inks may be less bright or have reduced reflectivity. A very small piece may be missing. Cover may have minor surface wear with minor to moderate cover creases. Minor cover soiling and staple tears allowed.
  • Spine may have a minor roll with a possible 3/4" split and minor color breaks, staples may have minor discoloration.
  • Pages can have tannish and are somewhat supple.
 
VERY GOOD/FINE (5.0)
  • An average used copy with moderate wear. Overall look is as if read many times and handled with some care. Corners may have blunting, cover may have low reflectivity.
  • Cover soiling and minor to moderate staple tears allowed. Up to 1/4" triangle may be missing on corner or edge. Cover may have moderate to significant surface wear with moderate cover creases. Cover and centerfold may be loose, but may not be detached.
  • Spine may have a moderate roll or up to a 1" split. Staples may have discoloration.
  • Pages can be tan but not brittle.
 
VERY GOOD+ (4.5)
  • Average used copy with significant moderate wear. Overall look is as if read many times. Corners may be blunted and worn, cover may have low reflectivity.
  • Cover soiling and minor to moderate staple tears allowed. Up to 1/4" triangle may be missing on corner or edge and may have moderate to significant surface wear with moderate cover creases. Cover may have a full-length subscription crease. Small piece of tape allowed. Cover and centerfold may be loose, but may not be detached.
  • Spine may have a moderate roll or up to a 1" split and staples may have discoloration.
  • Pages can be tan but not brittle.
 
VERY GOOD (4.0)
  • A comic in Very Good condition shows some significant wear, but has not accumulated enough total defects to reduce eye appeal to the point that it is not a desirable copy.
  • A Very Good copy may have an accumulation of minor defects or one or two major ones. Acceptable defects on a VG copy include: Spine roll, 1/2" to 1" spine splits or other tears, a cover or centerfold that is detached at one staple, discoloration due to oxidation, and a moderate accumulation of water damage or staining. Book is complete, but with major creases and or a spine roll.
  • There is almost low cover gloss or at most times none at all. If there is a piece missing from the cover, it should be no larger than a 1/2" to 1/4" of an inch.
  • The inside paper quality is not good and yellow and small pieces of them may be missing.
  • Books in this grade are almost always creased, scuffed, abraded and soiled, but completely readable. Tape on the comic is considered a defect in this grade.
 
VERY GOOD- (3.5)

 

  • An average used copy with significant moderate wear and looks is as if it had been read many times. Corners are probably blunted and worn. Cover may have low reflectivity. Up to 5/8" triangle may be missing on corner or edge. Cover may have moderate to significant surface wear with moderate cover creases and may be loose, and centerfold may be detached. It may also have soiling.
  • Spine may have a moderate roll or up to a 1 1/2" split and staples may have discoloration. Minor to moderate staple tears allowed.
  • Pages can be tan but not brittle.
 
GOOD/VERY GOOD (3.0)
  • A used copy with substantial wear. It looks as if it has been read many times. Corners may have rounding, cover may have low or no reflectivity. Moderate cover soiling and moderate staple tears allowed. Up to 1/2" piece may be missing on corner or edge. Cover may have significant surface wear with book-length cover creases. Cover may be detached at one staple.
  • Centerfold may be completely detached. Spine may have a roll or up to a 2" split. Staples may have discoloration or some rust.
  • Pages can be tan but not brittle.
 
GOOD+ (2.5)
  • A used copy with substantial wear. It looks as if it has been read many times but is still complete. Corners are likely rounded and worn, cover may have low or no reflectivity. Moderate cover soiling and significant staple tears allowed. Up to 1/2" piece may be missing on corner or edge. Cover may have significant surface wear with book-length cover creases and may be detached at one staple.
  • Spine may have a roll or up to a 2" split. 1.5"-2" spine split. Staples may have discoloration or some rust.
  • Pages can be tan but not brittle.
 
GOOD (2.0)
  • A Good copy has major defects, but is still complete and readable and will have a significant amount of damage, usually an accumulation of smaller defects punctuated with some major defects. Acceptable defects on a Good copy include: A vertical book-length crease on the cover, major tears, heavy discoloration/brittleness due to oxidation, heavy amounts of staining, residue, and water damage. There is almost low cover gloss or most times none at all. If there is a piece missing from the cover, it should be no larger than a 1/2" to 1/4".
  • There may be up to a 1.5"-2" spine split and centerfold may be completely detached. Staples may have discoloration or some rust.
  • The inside paper quality is not good and yellow and small pieces of them may be missing.
  • Books in this grade are almost always creased, scuffed, abraded and soiled, but completely readable.
 
GOOD- (1.8)
  • The overall look is very rough, but is still complete. Corners may be very worn. Cover may have low or no reflectivity and have heavy soiling. Up to 3/4" triangle may be missing on corner, edge, or interior page. Cover may have significant surface wear with book-length cover creases.
  • Spine may have a roll or up to a 3" split. Staples may have discoloration or some rust. Staple tears are allowed. Centerfold may be loose or detached.
  • Pages can be tan or brown but not brittle and the inside paper quality is not. Pieces of the pages may be missing.
 
FAIR/GOOD (1.5)
  • A used copy with heavy wear. It looks is as if it has been read many times with little care, but is still complete. Corners are likely very worn and cover may have no reflectivity. Small pieces of front or back cover or interior pages may be missing, but nothing is affecting the story. Cover may have considerable surface wear with book-length cover creases, significant tears, folds and may have soiling.
  • Spine may have a roll or up to 2/3rds split. Staple tears are allowed and may have discoloration or rust. Centerfold may be loose or detached.
  • Pages can be tan or brown, and edges may show some brittleness.
 
FAIR (1.0)
  • Fair is the lowest grade a comic book can receive as long as the story and art are complete and the copy will have virtually no eye appeal and will display major damage. A comic book in Fair condition may have non-story elements such as coupons, ad pages, or Marvel Value Stamps cut or torn out of the book. Types of damage that place a comic in Fair range include: rounded corners, a missing back cover provided the front cover is still attached, severe water damage or residue damage, mold, and paper deterioration due to oxidation. Extensive amounts of tape and heavy creases and folds on the cover and pages are prevalent. Parts of the front cover may even be missing. Soiling, staining, tears, markings or chunks missing will interfere with reading.
  • A spine split of up to 2/3 the length of the book is allowed and may be completely spit. Staple tears are allowed and may have discoloration or rust. Centerfold may be loose or detached. Staples may even be missing.
  • The quality of the paper may be low, brown, and brittle.
  • A comic in this grade has all pages and cover may be worn, ragged and unattractive.
 
POOR (0.5)
  • Comic books in Poor condition may be missing up to 4 pages (two spreads) of story pages or display severe damage that affects the readability of the book. Copies in this grade typically will have pages and/or around 1/3 or more of the front cover missing and may have severe strains, mildew or heavy cover abrasion to the point where cover inks are gone.
  • At this point the spine and staples just do not matter.
  • The inside pages can be extreme brittleness and have heavy defacing with paints, varnishes, glues, oil, indelible markers or dyes, etc.
This grading guide is also located on CollectiGuide.