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The Blog into Mystery Guide to Grading Comics

I have very little new to offer on the topic of grading. If you want help, I’d suggest getting a copy of Overstreet’s grading guide (not the Price Guide) and going over it forward and back until you’ve internalized the somewhat fuzzy demarcations between the stages of comic book decay. I do, however, have a few thoughts about grades relative to the age of books, rules of thumb that I use that people are free to disagree with. I offer them here as food for thought.

Near Mint — A NM book is sharp with no flaws. It’s desirable in all age groups. Duh.

Very Fine — Very small flaws, some that might not be noticed at a first cursory glance. Newer books (newer here means published in the last couple of decades) in VF aren’t as desirable to me. It’s so easy to find them in NM. But getting Silver Age books in VF is always a delight, and more than suffices for most Bronze Age material.

Fine — A book with noticeable wear, mostly along the spine and edges, but still one with a degree of eye appeal. A big line of delineation for me is corner creases. If a book has a big old crease on the cover, usually from a corner being folded over at some point, it’s no longer F but something lower on the spectrum. Newer books in this condition are garbage. Donate them to a children’s hospital or something. Bronze Age books in this condition are almost always undesirable to me, but Silver Age (1960s) and older can still look pretty sharp with some wear. Maybe it gives them character, like wrinkles on a dashing man (so I’m told…).

Very Good — Significant wear. Spine creases, corner creases and what have you, but doesn’t look like it’s been put through the ringer. Some very early Silver Age can still be desirable in this condition, and with Golden Age books this is often the best you can get without paying through the nose. Anything newer in this shape, use to housebreak a puppy.

Good — Intact but can have everything wrong with it up to an including a tire track right down the middle. Bits of the cover and pages can be missing, staples can be rusty, the centerfold can be loose. Sometimes this is the best you can get with Golden Age books. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Poor — You have to really be desperate. Like looking for a hook-up when the bar’s light’s come on desperate.

There. Just my thoughts in case anyone’s curious.

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