CGC Grading - An Overview
July 22, 2002

Love them, hate them, or don't-know-and-don't-care about them,
comic books professionally graded by CGC - Comics Guaranty, LLC
are becoming a regular sight in online auctions and comic shops.

With the growth of the internet and regular "sight unseen" transactions of
comic books from coast to coast (and worldwide), CGC had originally
emerged intending to provide unbiased third-party grading for key issues
of important comics such as early Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man books.
CGC also looks for signs of restoration, both amateur and professional.
The popularity of CGC grading has since spread to almost all comics
regardless of title, age, or value.

The process involves sending the comic to CGC for professional grading by
members of their staff. The book will then be encapsulated and sealed
in an archival-safe holder, protecting the book and ensuring that the book
remains in the same condition that has been established by CGC.

A market has emerged for those collectors who seek to own a professionally
graded copy of their favorite comics, instead of (or in addition to)
"ungraded" comics (or at least "subjectively self-graded comics") that are
the standard item in most comic book collections.

Comic books are actually late-comers to the list of collectibles that
have seen the development of "professional grading and encapsulation".
Widely-collected items such as coins and sportscards have already
established markets for professionally graded items.

Although even third-party, unbiased grading is still somewhat subjective
and basically "all in the eye of the beholder", with the differences
between some 9.6, 9.8, and even 10.0 comics being microscopic,
a huge premium is often paid for those special items which grade
very highly, or are the "best known" graded copy of a collectible.
(At least, the "best known" so far...)

Some price guides have attempted to set a multiplier value for professionally
graded comics, but the approximate value for any particular item will vary
depending on the print run (total number of copies in existence) and the
general distribution of the grades. Some recent comic books regularly
receive CGC grades of 9.8 or higher, while others rarely grade above 9.4.
It's important to remember that comic books produced in large quantities
are probably available at all grades in large quantities, while comics
produced in limited quantities will never be available in large quantities
regardless of whether they've been professionally graded or not.
This is especially true for Valiant comics, having print runs ranging from
as low as 1,000 copies of some comics to over 1,000,000 copies of others.

Professionally graded collectibles are both a blessing and a curse.
Since the subjectivity of "self-grading" is removed from a transaction,
the well-established secondary market value of "ungraded" collectibles
generally decreases due to the hesitation/uncertainty in paying for
what could be later determined as an average or below-average copy.
This makes ungraded items cheaper for the buyer, but hurts the seller
who has hand-picked high quality items but has not had them graded.

Fundamentally, there will always be concern regarding the idea of sealing
a comic book in a holder where only the front and back cover are visible.
How can it be read? How do you know what the inside pages look like?
Opening the holder is not recommended if you plan to resell the book
because damage might occur after CGC grading when the case is opened.
If you do open the CGC holder, you would need to resubmit the book to CGC
for recertification if you planned to resell your book as "CGC Graded".

Additionally, the cost and turnaround times associated with the process
of professional grading are often considerable or even impractical for the
more common, lower-valued items that make up the bulk of most collections.
Paying $15 to grade a $5 comic just doesn't make a lot of sense.
(But then again, grown men collecting "funny books" is kind of wacky, too.)

CGC Grading Scale
10.0- Mint
9.9 - Mint
9.8 - Near Mint/Mint
9.6 - Near Mint +
9.4 - Near Mint
9.2 - Near Mint -
9.0 - Very Fine/Near Mint
8.5 - Very Fine +
8.0 or lower - Very Fine to Poor

CGC Universal grades (Blue label)
signify that the comic is all
original, not restored.

CGC Modern grades (Red label)
are universal grades given to
books from 1975-present.
This label is no longer used by
CGC, and should be considered as
if it were a Universal (Blue label).

CGC Qualified grades (Green label)
indicate some change to the original
condition has been made, such as
a signature or printing defect.

CGC Restored grades (Purple label)
indicate the restoration amount and
whether it was done by amateurs or
professional restorers.

CGC Signature grades (Yellow label)
indicate that a CGC representative
witnessed the signature on the book.

For Further Reference:
Sales of CGC Graded Valiant Comics
CGC Graded Valiant Comics - Counts
CGC Graded Pre-Valiant Comics - Counts - About CGC