There are two standards for grading comic books.
1. Casual grading - This grading system is for collectors who are interested in obtaining books for their collections and for reading purposes. It is NOT a grading system for investments.
Mint (MT): Nearly impossible, and never used for ungraded books. The minute the book exchanges hands it is no longer technically mint. Dealers use Near Mint for visually perfect books.
Near Mint (NM): This is a copy that looks visually and physically perfect, as if it came straight from the presses. Only extremely minor defects would be allowed here, most of which can only be seen after a thorough examination.
Very Fine (VF): A really nice, clean copy, with only a few minor defects.
Fine (FN): A nice copy with some minor defects.
Very Good (VG): This copy has been read and used, and has lots of minor defects. No major defects such as massive water damage, missing pages, etc. would be allowed here. A perfectly good reading copy that is still visually appealing.
Good (GD): This copy has minor defects and some major defects. This is very common for older books that have been around for a while and have often passed through many hands. However, it is still a good reading copy.
Fair: These books have a lot of minor and major defects. Water damage, missing pages, tears, etc. are very common. Many Golden and Silver Age books have these problems, but they are often great bargains for readers seeking to own a piece of comic book history without going bankrupt. They are still often good reading copies, they just are not as pretty to look at.
Poor: books have been through the grinder and are riddled with minor and major defects. These books may not be complete and intact, and they may look like the family dog has used them as a chew toy. The only positive aspect of these copies, especially Golden and Silver Age ones, is that they're still around
2. CGC - This grading system is largely for investment purposes. This is for buyers who often are more interested in the value of a book, and not in its content for reading. This IS a grading system for investments.
MT 10.0: Perfect. Looks as if it had never been handled or released for sale. Nearly imperceptible flaws can only be seen under extremely close inspection. This grade is beyond rare and nearly impossible to obtain.
NM+/MT- 9.8: Nearly perfect. Overall look is that it has never read. Only 1 or 2 extremely minor flaws are allowed, and these can often only be seen upon close inspection. Pages are crisp and white. This grade is still very rare to obtain.
NM+ 9.6 to NM- 9.2: Nearly perfect with only minor flaws. Overall look is that is has just been purchased and maybe carefully read once or twice. Only minor flaws are allowed here, mostly due to printing. Pages are white to off-white and are crisp. This book still looks visually perfect to casual inspection. Great investment grade.
VF+/NM- 9.0 to VF- 7.5: These books still look nearly visually great, and have maybe been read carefully a few times. Minor defects are allowed here, but the book is still very visually appealing the to eye. Pages are cream to tan and are crisp. Major defects are still not allowed here. Still very nice investment grades, especially those in 9.0 to 8.0 range.
FN+/VF- 7.0 to FN- 5.5: Very nice reading copy that has some minor defects. Overall look is still visually appealing but with flaws that can be seen. Pages are tan and still mostly crisp. It's been read more than a few times, but it is still complete and intact. Decent investment grades for older books, but not for most newer ones.
VG+/FN- 5.0 to VG- 3.5: This book has moderate wear and tear on it. Minor defects are prevalent here, and it may have 1 or 2 major defects. Pages may be tan or brown, but are not brittle. Covers may have moderate surfact wear with cover creases. Still complete and intact. Fairly decent investment grade for books published during the Silver Age and before. This is not usually an investment grade for books published after the Silver Age, but there are some exceptions.
GD+/VG- 3.0 to GD- 1.8: Used copy with substantial wear. It's been read many times, but is still complete. There are both minor and major defects here. Pages are tan or brown but not brittle. Cover may have significant surface wear with book-length cover creases. Cover and centerfold may be loose or detached. Still complete. This grade should only be used for books published during the Silver Age or before in terms of investment value, but there are a few rare exceptions to this rule.
FR+/GD- 1.5 to FR 1.0: Used copy with heavy wear. It's been read a lot and hasn't been handled with care. Pages are tan or brown, and the edges may be brittle. Pieces of front or back cover may be missing. Cover may have considerable surface wear and significant tears and folds. Cover and centerfold may be loose or detached. May not necessarily be complete or intact. For the most part, this is not a investment grade, except for very old and very rare books, of which there are only a handful of copies that still exist, much less in any better condition than this.
PR 0.5: This copy has been beat up and shows signs of heavy use with little to no care given to it. Minor and major defects are everywhere. This book likely is not complete and intact. The only reason that this book is not graded lower is that there is still some of it left. This is not an investment grade at all.
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