How We Grade at DRC
Our goal is to grade as close as possible to the standards of CGC and CBCS. Since they do not release their grading standards to public consumption, there will be some differences. However, I have submitted literally thousands upon thousands of books to be graded since the introduction of CGC into the market, and I have become very familiar with what they downgrade for.
I will do my best to include clear pictures of most books and will describe any major defects not pictured or not evident from the pictures. Also, if a book has non-typical defects for the grade assigned, I will make a point to describe them.
Important - Grading is about an accumulation of defects, more than it is about any 1 specific defect. The total area of the book damaged is what determines the grade of the book. On occasion, a book may exhibit most of the qualities of a much higher grade book, but be downgraded due to a single defect. Or a book may be structurally a high grade book but be downgraded because of deterioration of paper. On a rare occasion, a book may grade higher than it typically would from the accumulation defects if it exhibits extremely high eye appeal.
Our Grading Scale
9.9 - 10.0 - Mint/ Gem Mint - Basically, a book with either 1 flaw or no flaws.
9.8 - Near Mint/Mint (NM/MT) - A book which at 1st glance appears perfect. Upon closer inspection, you might find 2-4 tiny flaws. A book in this condition will generally have at least 3 sharp corners. Only minor imperfections separate this book from the higher grades. Book will be flat, clean, and have almost no surface wear. Minor, very subtle printing defects (tiny bindery chips) are allowed. This is the highest grade typically offered.
9.6 - Near Mint plus (NM+) - A book which is nearly perfect, but has a few tiny flaws, or 1 or 2 significant flaws (ex. 1 larger stress line, a fuzzy or blunted corner). The book will be flat, clean, and have almost no surface wear. A book in this grade still maintains superb eye appeal, appearing as if it were purchased and read once or twice. Minor printing defects are allowed.
9.4 - Near Mint (NM) - Again, a book which is nearly perfect, but upon close inspection may have multiple tiny flaws (such as 1/16" or smaller spine stress lines), or a few significant flaws (1 larger stress line, slightly rounded corners), but no major defects (tears, creases over 1/8th", etc). Again, a book in this grade will maintain excellent eye appeal and may at first glance appear nicer. In this grade, the book will still be generally flat, but may have tiny bends which do not break color or break the paper fibers. Minor printing defects are allowed, including small bindery tears (1/8" or smaller).
9.2 - Near Mint minus (NM-) - This is a book which appears NM, but may have a single flaw or multiple smaller flaws that keep it out of the higher grades. The book will be generally flat, but may have multiple bends which do not break color. A book in this grade may have a few small stress lines, but still no significant creases or tears. A tiny, near invisible water stain is allowable in this grade. Again, a book in this grade will maintain excellent eye appeal and may at first glance appear nicer. In this grade, the book will still be generally flat, but may have tiny bends which do not break color or break the paper fibers. Minor printing defects are allowed, including small bindery tears (1/8" or smaller). A book in this grade may have very light foxing.
9.0 - Very Fine/Near Mint (VF/NM) - Very nice book with outstanding eye appeal, but with small defects, such as a tiny corner crease, a thumb bend, or blunted corners. Very slight staple tears may be present. Book should be mostly flat, and book should be mostly free of staining and discoloration. Light foxing is allowed.
8.5 - Very Fine plus (VF+) - A copy which exhibits the qualities of a VF, but with a single attribute, or an accumulation of small attributes that improves the book's appearance by a noticeable amount.
8.0 - Very Fine (VF) - An excellent copy with very good eye appeal. Book should be sharp and clean, with bright colors. Book should be mostly flat, but may exhibit every so slight spine roll. Stress lines, very small staple tears, very small corner creases, and slight discoloration may all be present in this grade. Corners may be slightly blunted. Paper may be cream, but not tan, and should still be supple. Book should still be relatively glossy.
7.5 - Very Fine minus (VF-) - A book which exhibits the qualities of a VF, but with a single defect or an accumulation of small defects which detracts from the books appearance by a noticeable amount.
7.0 - Fine/ Very Fine (F/VF) - An above average copy that shows minor wear, but is still relatively flat and clean with nice eye appeal. Minor cover wear including minor creases, spine stress, and a small amount of abrasions to the cover are acceptable. Corners may be blunted or even fraying in this grade. Slight spine roll is acceptable, and light non color breaking wear is often present. Small stains which are not obtrusive are allowed in this grade. Page quality is generally cream or better.
6.5 - Fine plus (F+) - A copy which exhibits the qualities of a Fine, but with a single attribute, or an accumulation of small attributes that improves the book's appearance by a noticeable amount.
6.0 - Fine (F) - An above average copy that shows minor wear, but is still relatively clean and flat with no major creasing, tears, or other serious defects. Small creases and even tears may be present. Eye appeal is still good, but may be reduced because of surface wear, A comic in this condition is a book that appears to have been read several times with a moderate amount of care. Most of the wear will typically occur at the spine, corners, and edges. Corners are typically not sharp in this condition and may exhibit fraying or fuzziness. Page quality is still generally good, from cream to white.
5.5 - Fine minus (F-) - A book which exhibits the qualities of a Fine, but with a single defect or an accumulation of small defects which detracts from the books appearance by a noticeable amount.
5.0 - Very Good/Fine (VG/F) - A comic which is above average in condition, but exhibits moderate wear. The book will still maintain nice eye appeal, but may have defects such as a long crease. Comics in this condition are often not entirely flat, and may exhibit staining or soiling, however not to the extent that it detracts from eye appeal. Comics in this grade may have a small spine split (less than 1"). Spine stress, a moderate amount of bending, and even edge tears are common in books of this grade. Minor tape may be present.
4.5 - Very Good plus (VG+) - A copy which exhibits the qualities of a VG, but with a single attribute, or an accumulation of small attributes that improves the book's appearance by a noticeable amount.
4.0 - Very Good (VG) - The average used comic book. Still a solid complete comic which has been well read. A book in this condition shows significant moderate wear. Many times books in this condition will have lost cover gloss and even some of the brightness of the colors. Books can have creases, tears, soiling, writing, some discoloration, foxing, staining, A corner up to 1/2" in may be missing or a small chips at other places on the corner. Book may have moderate spine roll and a small spine split (up to 2"). Staples may have rust, even with slight migration to the paper. Paper should still be supple, but may be anywhere from tan to white. 1 or more pieces of tape may be present (the amount determines whether it fits in this or a lower category).
3.5 - Very Good minus (VG-) - A book which exhibits the qualities of a Very Good, but with an additional defect or an accumulation of small defects which detracts from the books appearance by a noticeable amount.
3.0 - Good /Very Good (G/VG) - A used comic book which shows substantial wear. Cover shows quite a bit of wear and may even be loose at one staple (2 under extraordinary circumstances). Lots of wear, including creasing, scuffing, tears, spine roll, chips, etc. May have a spine split up to 2". Centerfold may be loose. Tape may be present. Writing may be present. Paper may be tan to white, but typically not brittle. May have pieces missing (again, size and placement have an effect on grade).
2.5 - Good plus (G+) - A copy which exhibits the qualities of a Good, but with an additional tribute, or an accumulation of small attributes that improves the book's appearance by a noticeable amount.
2.0 - Good (G) - Often considered the lowest collectible copy. A book in this condition will typically show substantial wear in most areas. A book in this condition will generally be complete with no large pieces missing. It will have creasing, tears, soiling, staining, even wrinkling. Often the book in this condition will have spine roll, and may be detached at one or both staples. May have a significant spine split, but not complete. May have rust or water damage.
1.8 - Good minus (G-) - A book which exhibits the qualities of a Good, but with an additional defect or an accumulation of small defects which detracts from the books appearance by a noticeable amount.
1.5 - Fair/Good (F/G) - A book in this condition typically has pieces missing from the cover, or significant color loss, due to wear, moisture, or sun fade. Heavy soiling/staining is allowed. May have a large spine split. May have a significant spine roll.
1.0 - Fair (Fr) - A book in this grade shows heavy wear, bordering on abuse. Generally this is the lowest grade which can be considered complete. May have significant pieces missing (i.e. logo stripped copies). Cover may be completely split, but almost all of cover material is present. Can be missing coupons, or even the CF if it does not affect reading.
.5 - Poor (Pr) - Its a rag. Cover may be missing or in several pieces. May be missing ad pages. May even be incomplete. Although CGC differentiates .5 and .5 restored, I do not in most cases. I have a hard time calling a book in this condition restored. However, such things as glue or color touch will be mentioned in description.
To better understand the descriptions, here are some frequent terms and abbreviations that you will encounter on DRC.
- FC, or BC - front cover, back cover
- NCB wear - non color breaking wear, a bend or indention which does not break the paper fibers or the paint, can often be pressed out
- Crease - A fold in the paper which has broken the fibers of the paper.
- Sm Tr. - small tear
- Foxing - is an age-related process of deterioration that causes spots and browning on old paper such as comics. Usually small circular dots.
- Creaming - refers to a light yellowing to the paper either of the cover or pages. Most older books will have this to some degree.
- Tanning - refers to a browning of the paper, generally happens around the edges which are exposed. It is an early step in the deterioration of paper.
- Brittle - The paper has deteriorated to a point that it has become fragile to handle. Handling may result in chipping, flaking or cracking.
- Improvable - means that a book may be improved by the process of pressing or by dry cleaning, both of which are non invasive techniques (when properly done) and which the certification services do not consider restoration.