Copyright 1996-1999 Eric G. Myers
This guide may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the author.
In an attempt to impose some consistency within this guide, I offer the
following conventions and definitions:
Categories found below are not absolute. An item may have elements of
different grades simultaneously (which, in fact, is most often the
case). The scale below attempts to evenly partition defects starting
from a true mint item down through an item in nearly destroyed
condition. The scale is designed to be used as a guide. If the
preponderance of defects on an item fall into a particular category,
then it is more than likely accurately graded at that level.
On a related note, an item may have multiple defects which, if taken
alone or in small clusters, might place the item in a particular grade
yet when considered together, the sheer number of defects may serve to
lower the overall grade of the item.
Given the collapsed nature of the scale (i.e., combining the middle
categories) there is room within each level to make distinctions of
grade (except in the highest and lowest level which stand alone).
Similarly, a system of pluses and minuses (e.g., C9+, C6-, etc.)
could be easily added for boundary cases (though not explicitly discussed
here). The more specific the rating, the more useful it will be (e.g., the
term "NEAR MINT" will not be as useful as "C8-" which in turn will be less
useful than a description of the defects that fall into each particular
It is worth noting that some collectors are more tolerant of defects
occurring on the backs of carded figures. Many times, defects such as
creases are not visible on the card front even though they are quite
noticeable on the card back. This guide does not distinguish the
location of defects when grading the entire item.
The presence of a price tag or sticker is not deemed to be a flaw in and
of itself. However, damage caused by the sticker adhesive, improper
removal of the sticker or any related issues may be considered a flaw
when grading the entire item. Additionally, price tags and other
stickers can actually hide existing damage such as a previous tag
Any repair made to a card, bubble or other packaging should be noted as
such. This includes (but is not limited to): Tape repair, replacing
rusted or missing staples, re-gluing of bubbles or card separations,
Reformation or reshaping of a crushed or dented bubble may not be
considered a repair per se but should be noted especially if the damage
to the bubble left marks (such as whitening of the plastic) or other
evidence of the previous damage.
Repairs are generally considered to bring down the value of an item
(though this is certainly not universal). Consider carefully before
restoring or repairing an item. Convention holds that the item's
*original* condition is the most important factor in determining value
and not the item's *restoration* condition.
Many fans collect figures adorned with autographs of related
celebrities. While this may radically enhance the value to some, it may
radically decrease the value to others. There are several issues you
should consider before getting into the autographed figures trade
(either as a buyer or a seller). The first issue is authenticity.
Autographs are easily forged (one account stated that over half of all
autographed baseball memorabilia is forged). And a certificate of
authenticity is not an assurance of anything. These days, anyone with a
laser printer and half a brain can print phony certificates of
authenticity. This is not to say that all certificates of authenticity
are fake. On the contrary, some are very real. However, spotting the
difference can be tricky (and next to impossible in some cases). If you
yourself are acquiring the autographs on the items and you plan to keep
your collection forever and ever, then you should have no problem. If,
on the other hand, you are collecting autographed figures with the
intention to sell them, you might consider going the extra step and
getting proof. Many of these items get signed at conventions (such as
comic conventions, Star Trek conventions or Star Wars conventions).
Additionally, celebrities often charge a small fee for autographs. They
may also charge a small fee for photographs. Despite the extra cost, it
might be worth your while to try to obtain a picture of the celebrity
with the item you had them sign. A good photgraph is worth a thousand
certifcates of authenticity. Of course, a poor photograph (i.e., one in
which the item is absent, ambiguous, or otherwise obscured) isn't going
to help much. Its not easy, but if you can get a good photo, you will be
way ahead of the game when it comes to time to prove an autograph's
autheticity at the time of sale. Traditionally, the photo is transferred
with the item at the time of sale. If you really like the photo, make
copies because at least one copy should go to the buyer of the item.
Autographs of unrelated people (even if they are famous) may actually
lower the value of your figure (e.g., Patrick Stewart's autograph on a
Commander Riker figure). However, the autograph itself may be more
valuable on its own if the person is famous enough or is known for his
or her reluctance to give out autographs (which is another subject
And please be reminded that while an autograph may be immeasurably
precious to you, some people consider any markings, even an authentic
autograph, to be a flaw and thus reduce the value of the item in
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