Comic Book Grading part 2

Comic Grading – Part 2 grading evolution 

In part 1 we looked at how comics were graded prior to 1970 and Overstreet’s introduction of the 7 point rating system. As we shall see, the collecting boom was pushing the comic book grading system beyond this modest beginning!

Not content with a 7 point grading system, after all you must have a good round number correct? Doesn’t 10 sound much more complete than 7, of course it does? Plus with prices of key books rising for Golden Age comics and some of the Marvel’s from the 1960’s, the collector and investor market was starting to perk up. So, by the 1980’s the Overstreet price guide introduced three new levels of comic book grades. This produced the 10 point scale:

  • Pristine Mint
  • Mint
  • Near Mint
  • Very Fine
  • Fine
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor
  • Coverless

I don’t expect there will be any arguments over the last grade “Coverless” but come on, “Pristine Mint” versus “Mint”? That is like saying something is perfect in every way then saying OH!, we found something more perfect than perfect! This also meant that there were three different grades of mint, from pristine to near. I don’t know about you but “That comic looks brand new” is starting to look pretty good about now.

“Very Fine” versus “Fine” also spawned considerable heated discussion about the fine (no pun intended) line between the two.

Following a settling period, eventually the top grade “Pristine Mint” and the bottom grade “coverless” were dropped and we were back to a more reasonable 8 point scale:

  • Mint (M)
  • Near Mint (NM)
  • Very Fine (VF)
  • Fine (F)
  • Very Good (VG)
  • Good (G)
  • Fair (F)
  • Poor (P)

Collectors and sellers seemed to like this simple system as arguments around the subjectiveness of comic grading were reduced to exploring the line between each of the 8 points. The 8 point scale is the one followed by Cyber Comics and Toys for many years and is used to this day. It covers enough of a range for our purposes. Details on what makes a comic equal one of those grades will come in part four.

Unfortunately, the 8 point scale lasted about 10 milliseconds before we had another new rating scale which after some tinkering settled on a 25 point scale. I won’t get into all the grading definitions of these but essentially it covers the grey areas between each of the 8 point scale ratings. Does this simplify things or does it increase the dispute over the subjective evaluations of what makes a comic VF+ versus VF versus VF- and so on?

End of part 2.

Stay tuned for part 3 which moves us to infinity and beyond, a.k.a. the shiny new 100 point rating scale for deciding the condition of your favourite comic book!

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