OVERSTREET GRADING CRITERIA
HOW TO GRADE: Before a comic book’s true value can be assessed, its condition or state of preservation must be determined. In all comic books, the better the condition, the more desirable and valuable the book. Comic books in MINT condition will bring several times the price of the same book in POOR condition. Therefore it is very important to be able to properly grade your books. Comics should be graded from the inside out, so the following comic book areas should be examined before assigning a final grade.
Check inside pages, inside spine and covers and outside spine and covers for any tears, markings, brittleness, tape soiling, chunks out or other defects that would affect the grade. After all the above steps have been taken, then the reader can begin to consider an overall grade for his or her book. The grading of a comic book is done by simply looking at the book and describing its condition, which may range from absolutely perfect newsstand condition MINT to extremely worn, dirty, and torn POOR.
Numerous variables influence the evaluation of a comic book’s condition. Although the grade of a comic book is based upon an accumulation of defects, some defects may be more extreme for a particular grade as long as other acceptable listed defects are almost non-existent. As grading is the most subjective aspect of determining a comic’s value, it is very important that the grader be careful not to allow wishful thinking to influence what the eyes see. It is also very important to realize that older comics in MINT condition are extremely scarce and are rarely advertised for sale; most of the higher grade comics advertised range from VERY FINE to NEAR MINT.
GRADING DEFINITIONS NOTE: This section uses both the traditional grade abbreviations and the ONE number throughout the listings. The Overstreet Numerical Equivalent (ONE) spread range is given with each grade.
MINT (MT) (ONE 9.9-10.0): Near perfect in every way. Only the most subtle bindery or printing defects are allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and minimal fading. Corners are cut square and sharp. Staples are generally centered, clean with no rust. Cover is generally well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and fresh. Spine is tight and flat.
NEAR MINT/MINT (NM/MT) (ONE 9.8): A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a NM+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a MT 9.9. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a NM+.
NEAR MINT (NM) (ONE 9.2-9.7): Nearly perfect with only minor imperfections allowed. This grade should have no corner of impact creases, stress marks should be almost invisible, and bindery tears must be less than 1/16 inch. A couple of very tiny color flecks, or a combination of the above that keeps the book from being perfect, where the overall eye appeal is less than Mint drops the book into this grade. Only the most subtle binging and/or printing defects allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and minimum of fading. Corners are cut square and sharp with ever so slight blunting permitted. Staples are generally centered, clean with no rust. Cover is well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and like new. Spine is tight and flat.
VERY FINE/NEAR MINT (VF/NM) (ONE 9.0): A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a VF+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a NM-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a VF+.
VERY FINE (VF) (ONE 7.5-8.5): An excellent copy with outstanding eye appeal. Sharp, bright and clean with supple pages. Cover is relatively flat with almost no surface wear. Cover inks are generally bright with moderate to high reflectivity. Staples may show some discoloration. Spine may have a couple of almost insignificant transverse stress lines and is almost completely flat. A barely unnoticeable ¼ inch crease is acceptable, if color is not broken. Pages and covers can be yellowish/tannish (at the least, but no brown and will usually be off-white to white).
FINE/VERY FINE (FN/VF) (ONE 7.0): A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a FN+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a VF-. In most cases, the comic book has a better appearance than a FN+.
FINE (FN) (ONE 5.5-6.5): An above-average copy that shows minor wear but is still relatively flat and clean with no significant creasing or other serious defects. Eye appeal is somewhat reduced because of slight surface wear and possibly a small defect such as a few slight cross stress marks on spine or a very slight spine split (1/4”). A Fine condition comic book appears to have been read a few times and has been handled with moderate care. Compared to a VF, cover inks are beginning to show a significant reduction in reflectivity, but it is still a highly collectible and desirable book. Pages and interior covers may be tan, but pages must still be fairly supple with no signs of brittleness.
VERY GOOD/FINE (VG/FN) (ONE 5.0): A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a VG+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a FN-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a VG+.
VERY GOOD (VG) (ONE 3.5-4.5): The average used comic book. A comic in this grade shows some wear, can have a reading or center crease or a moderately rolled spine, but has not accumulated enough total defects to reduce eye appeal to the point that it is not a desirable copy. Some discoloration, fading and even minor soiling is allowed. As much as a ¼’ triangle can be missing out of the corner or edge. A missing square piece (1/8” by 1/8”) is also acceptable. Store stamps, name stamps, arrival dates, initials, etc. have no effect on this grade. Cover and interior pages can have some minor tears and folds and the centerfold may be detached at one staple. The cover may also be loose, but not completely detached. Common bindery and printing defects do not affect grade. Pages and inside covers may be brown but not brittle. Tape should never be used for comic book repair; however, many VG condition comics have minor tape repair.
GOOD/VERY GOOD (GD/VG) (ONE 3.0): A comic book that has enough positive qualities to keep it better that a GD+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a VG-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a GD+.
GOOD (GD) (ONE 1.8-2.5): A copy in this grade has all pages and covers, although There may be small pieces missing inside; the largest piece allowed from front or back cover is a ½” triangle or square ¼” by ¼”. Books in this grade are commonly creased, scuffed, abraded, soiled and may have as much as a 2” spine split, but are still completely readable. Often, paper quality is low but not brittle. Cover reflectivity is low, and in some cases, completely absent. This grade can have a moderate accumulation of defects, but still maintains its basic structural integrity.
FAIR/GOOD (FR/GD) (ONE 1.5): A comic book that has enough positive qualities to keep it better than a FR+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep if from being a GD-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a FR+.
FAIR (FR) (ONE 1.0): A copy in this grade is usually soiled, ragged, and possibly unattractive. Creases, tears and/or folds are prevalent. Spine may be split up to 2/3rds its entire length. Staples may be gone. Up to 1/10th of the front cover may be missing. These books are readable, although soiling, staining, tears, markings or chunks missing may moderately interfere with reading the complete story. Some collectors consider this the lowest collectible grade because comic books in lesser condition are usually defaced and/or brittle. Very often paper quality is low and may have slight brittleness around the edges, but not in the central portions of the pages. Comic books in this grade may have a clipped coupon, so long as it is noted along side of the nomenclature, i.e.: “Fair (1.0) Coupon Clipped.” Valued at 50-70% of good.
POOR (PR) (ONE 0.5): Most comic books in this grade have been sufficiently degraded to the point that copies may have extremely severe stains, missing staples, brittleness, mildew or moderate to heavy cover abrasion to the point that some cover inks are indistinct/absent. Comic books in this grade can have small chunks missing and pieces out of pages. They may have been defaced with paints, varnishes, glues, oil, indelible markers or dyes. Covers may be split the entire length of the book, but both halves must be present and basically still there with some chunks missing. A page(s) may be missing as long as it is noted along side of the nomenclature; i.e.: “POOR (0.5) 2nd Page Missing.” Value depends on extent of defects, but would average about 1/3 of GOOD.