3rd Party Comic Book Grading.
Comic Book Grading:
Comic Book Grading is the process of determining the condition of the book. The comic books are given a standard grade based on their condition which influences the value of the book. The comic-book grade depends on all the factors After the grading process, the comic books are then sealed into a protective case which prevents the book directly from smudges, greasy hands, falls, and much more. Basically, comic-book grades are rated from 0.5-10. The specific grade depends on paper problems such as:
- Fading & decolorization
- Condition of the book cover
- Wear and tear
- Interaction such as drawing or markings on the book
Traditional Old School Comic book grading scale:
So basically, the comic books were originally categorized into eight major categories:
- Mint (MT)
- Near Mint (NM)
- Very Fine (VF)
- Fine (FN)
- Very Good (VG)
- Good (GD)
- Fair (FR)
- Poor (PR)
This comic book grading scale has been used for several decades but the only issue with this grading scale is that it is not as accurate and as precise as it should be. But during the decade the comic book grading has also evolved into a much precise method for the gradation of the comic books. First, it evolved into the use of using a slash such as if a comic book’s condition is in between Mint (MT) and Near Mint (NM). We use forward slash to denote the in-between condition of the book. For Example, Mint / Near Mint or MT/NM is used to denote that the book is graded between Mint and Near Mint.
After the use of the Forward Slash Method, the comic book grading method further evolved into the use of the plus (+) and the minus (-) method, the uses of these signs further improved the accuracy of determining the book’s condition. Such as, if a comic book’s condition is slightly better than the Very Good (VG) category, we use “Very Good+” or “VG+” to grade its condition. Similarly, if a comic book’s condition lies in between Good (GD) or Very Good (VG), we use positive (+) or (-) along with the grade to determine where its condition is more inclined and so forth.
After the Plus (+) and the Minus (-) method and the Forward Slash (/) method, we evolved into a prime and a much more modern comic book grading system. Later in the hobby, we shifted to using numerical terms to grade a comic book’s condition.
Here’s the newly accepted 3rd party standard grading scale:
- 10.0 Gem 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 Very Fine
- 7.5 Very Fine-
- 7.0 Fine / Very Fine
- 6.5 Fine+
- 6.0 Fine
- 5.5 Fine-
- 5.0 Very Good / Fine
- 4.5 Very Good+
- 4.0 Very Good
- 3.5 Very Good-
- 3.0 Good / Very Good
- 2.5 Good+
- 2.0 Good
- 1.8 Good-
- 1.5 Fair / Good
- 1.0 Fair
- 0.5 Poor
This grading scale is known as the 10-point grading scale. The 10-point grading scale is the most commonly used grading scale and is being used nowadays. You might have seen books in a protective case and graded with decimals ranging from 1-10.
How to get your comic books OFFICIALLY "graded?"
Grading your comic books is easier and more convenient than you can think. There are basically three venues from where you can get your comic book grade.
- You can drop your comic books from conventions such as comic cons, book fares, or book festivals. A lot of grading companies usually have a stall or a table that accepts books to be graded.
- You can send you precious comic books to a grading company by mail.
- You can also visit a local comic book retailer and check whether they have an account with a grading company. The retailers might be able to get your books graded by a renowned grading company at a slightly discounted rate. (often 20%)
Comic book grading companies:
One of the most common questions between the comic book collectors and enthusiasts is Which comic book grading company is the best? So, In this article, I will try to give you a brief and unbiased review of which comic book grading company is the best. So, there are three pioneer third-party grading companies:
- Certified Guaranty Company (CGC)
- Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS)
- Professional Grading Experts (PGX)
- Halo Certification Comic Book Grading (HALO)
Before I give you a brief contrast, keep one thing in mind, even these pioneer grading companies admit that if the same comic book is sent for grading at the same time. It might not even receive the same grade, there will always be a plus or minus.
Certified Guaranty company is also known as CGC. Certified Guaranty Company is an independent third party comic book grading company. This grading company was opened in the year 2000 in Sarasota, Florida. Certified Guaranty Company is also a member of the Certified Collectibles Group of companies. In fact, CGC revolutionized the entire comic book industry upon its release and it was also the world’s first third-party comic book grading company. Before the release of the comic book grading giant, all the precious comic books were usually left to retailers, dealers, or comic book collectors for grading. There was never a proper precise scale to grade all comic books in the same variations. Everyone used to grade their comics differently. Some people graded the same comic as Mint where some used to grade it to Good or Very Good. Many comic book enthusiasts used to take massive advantage by getting their comic books graded from crooked comic book dealers and sell their comic books at higher prices.
Certified Guaranty Company basically developed harmony in the comic book world by providing a proper grading mold to every comic. Currently, the Certified Guaranty company is the biggest and the best comic book grading company in the world. According to a survey conducted by Gpanalysis.com, there are currently 1 billion dollar worth of CGC-graded comics in the world. Even tho, Comic Guaranty is currently the world’s best company, there are some complaints regarding CGC. Their grading quality is the best. They have a positive reputation for a really long time but In 2016, the company suffered a massive blow in its reputation when they found a small issue with the plastic bag that actually damaged some comics. Furthermore, the company resolved these issues when it was once identified and is currently living up to its expectations. It is also important to know that many comic book collectors and buyers often pay a slightly higher price when a book is graded by the Comic’s Guaranty company.
Cost of getting your books graded by Certified Guaranty Company:
One of the best things about CGC is that they have a very reasonable pricing standard. Basically, Certified Guaranty company charges according to the market value of the comics which is quite reasonable and quite efficient.
|Submission Tier||Max per item Value||Per comic book fee||Turnaround Time (Working Days)|
|Walkthrough||Unlimited||3% of Fair Market Value ($150 Minimum, $5,000 = max)||Same Day|
|Modern (1975 – Current)||$200.00||$20.00||25 Days|
As mentioned on the website of Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) they also charge a handling fee of $5 for all online submissions per invoice and a handling fee of $8 to all paper submissions per invoice.
Keep in mind that the turnaround times in the chart are approximate and Certified Guaranty Company does not guarantee the turnaround on the exact date.
Pros and cons of Certified Guaranty Company (CGC):
Pros of CGC Grading:
- Certified Guaranty Company uses a sturdy comic bookcase. CGC seals the graded comic book in a sturdy case that protects your comic book’s condition and protects the comic book from most. For example, if you drop your CGC graded comic book, the protective case will take all the damage and will leave your comic book unharmed. CGC will also repair and reseal the comic book for a fee of $15.
- A high value in the market and insurance. CGC graded comic books have a significantly higher value as compared to the other companies’ graded comic books. CGC graded comic books are also prone to get insured. For example, if you have your comic books in your home and you have home insurance. For some reason, you have a mishap such as a flood, fire, or theft, and your precious comic book is prone to lose. Most insurance companies don’t compensate for the loss of the comic books unless your comic books have been graded by CGC. The insurance company can easily verify the value of your precious comic books and reimburse you with a price check. You need to make sure you have insanely good proof as they will likely be bad sports without compelling evidence. Dylan Schwartz is still fighting tooth and nail for his $60k from the 2 Amazing Fantasy 15s (1st Spider-Man) and he has solid pictures & a witness.
- Certified Grading Company is more reliable than other comic book grading services out there. CGC is also considered as the premium standard for grading and is currently the most trusted and reliable grading services between all comic book enthusiasts and collectors. Certified Grading Company has been operating for more than 20 years for now with very little to no negative feedback between these years. Even though, there are some fluctuations in getting the precise grade but in most cases, CGC provides pinpoint accurate grades. Whereas, in comparison, if most of the comic book grading companies suffer an overwhelming response in to-be-graded books—their grading and grading quality suffers.
Cons of CGC Grading:
- One of the biggest flaws of getting your comic book graded is you cannot open your comic book to read it. Many vintage comic book collectors want to enjoy the aroma and read their old comic book but they are unable to because their book is sealed in a plastic case. Furthermore, you can read your graded comic books but simply purchasing a digital copy or a certified copy of your precious comic book and fulfill your heart desire.
- One of the biggest disadvantages of submitting to comic books to be graded from CGC is that you must be a paid member of the grading company. In order to be a paid member, you must pay a yearly subscription of a minimum of $25 per annum. Although, you can get your comic books graded from CGC by using an authorized comic book dealer for free. But if you want to do it to include a third person and deal directly then you should consider buying a plan that starts from as low as $25 per year. Even tho, this fee isn’t much, if you don’t have a lot of comic books to submit or you have a low budget then it really adds up the price.
- Certified Guaranty Company has a very late turnaround time as usual. Sometimes their turnaround time even runs up to 4 months for less expensive comic books and for comic books that are worth over $1000, there is a high chance that you will prolly get your comic books within a week or a couple of weeks at most. And for comic books that are worth less than $400, you might have to wait for a long time. Generally, it depends on the seasons and the workflow. But, one thing is certain that the turnaround time is generally fast even for low priced comics but sometimes, it can be as high as 4 months.
- CGC’s grading can be inconsistent sometimes. Even tho, CGC’s grading is way more consistent as compared to other grading companies and according to my personal experience, CGC is pretty good.
- If they damage something, they will pretend like they didn’t & will play games with your money.
- Horrible customer service.
Comic Book Certification Company also known as CBCS, is one of the best comic book companies out there. CBCS was founded in May 2014 by Steve Borock and Alec Born. CBCS is a third party independent comic book grading company. However, CBCS was sold and is currently functioning under Beckett media. CBCS founder Steve Borock is a very popular name in the comic book industry because of his efforts at creating Certified Grading Company (CGC) along with his position as Senior Consignment Director in Heritage Auctions.
Despite it was founded later than every other grading comic, CBCS has become wildly popular and one of the best comic book grading companies in the world. CBCS also claims to have a staff with more than 250 years of comic book grading experience. In terms of comparison, if the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) deserves a gold medal at grading then CBCS deserves a silver medal. The main motive behind the development of CGC was to develop a transparent company, a company that discloses each and every detail to what’s happening behind the company walls to their valuables. Starting from turnover delays to every problem that arises, CBCS will disclose it to you. Instead of keeping a secret, CBCS will send an email to you that will disclose every problem that may have arisen during the grading process.
Cost of getting your books graded by CBCS:
In terms of pricing, CBCS is much cheaper than CGC. CBCS also offers monthly and bi-monthly price coupons and discount vouchers to its grading customers.
|Submission Tier||Max per item Value||Per comic book fee||Turnaround Time (Working Days)|
|Modern (1975 to present)||$250||$15||15 Days|
|2-Day Modern tier 1978 to present||$2000||$35||Based on Value|
|Expanded Modern tier 1969-1977||$250||$20||20 Days|
|Expanded consumer tier Pre-1969||$250||$22||30 days|
|Consumer tier Any Year||$400||$29||30 days|
|Quickstream tier||$1150||$49||10 days|
|Rapid tier||$4000||$75||4 days|
|1-Day tier||No value limit||2.5% of Market Value Minimum charge $110 Maximum charge $1975 per book.||Same Day Service|
|CBCS Re-holder||No Value limit.||$9.50||6 business days|
Signature add-on is $5 per book (Not signature)
Image add-on is $4 per book (Free Image for 1-day tier)
Video add-on is $30 per book.
Furthermore, you can also get an additional discount via an authorized dealer. Generally, Authorized Dealers get a 10% discount on all tiers, add-ons are not included.
Pros and Cons of Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS):
Pros of CBCS:
- One of the best advantages of using the Comic Book Certification Service is that it is much cheaper. So, if you don’t want to spend much and get your comic book packed in a sturdy case, CBCS is where you should go.
- CBCS offers the best looking graded cases out there. In my opinion, they offer way better and much cooler looking than CGC and boost the overall quality of your book.
- You don’t even need to pay an annual fee or subscribe to their services in order to get you comic book graded. However, they have different packages for new or non subscription based customers.
- CBCS offer signature verification services. At first, they used CSA comics for their signature services but CSA has now been absorbed into CBCS. You can use this service to verify and authenticate the signatures on your comic book. If you don’t have a proof of the signature on your comic then CBCS might be a way to go. However, you should keep in mind that the comics that receive the verification service have a relatively different label as compared to the authentication service, but this might be the only option for the unwitnessed signatures.
- CBCS also proved free grader notes along with their graded comic books. So, basically, this comic book grading company tells you why and how your comic book got the aforementioned grade and it’s free of cost.
- CBCS provide a very fast turn around. They don’t keep your comic books for a long period of time. They have a much faster turnaround time starting from same day delivery. Way faster than CGC without even compromising the grading quality.
- CBCS have the best customer support than all other grading companies combined. CBCS emails you each and every detail about your comic book and where it is headed to the turnaround delays. CBCS being a transparent company tells you everything about what’s currently happening to your precious comic book behind the company’s walls.
Cons of CBCS:
- CBCS has a very good reputation as compared to its rival grading company CGC, but it’s like people want CGC. CGC has a relatively low market value as compared to CBCS. Its just that fans and enthusiasts just trust CGC, they even pay more for CGC graded comics. For example, if a CGC graded comic book has a worth of 10 dollars whereas the same comic but with a CBCS grade will worth 9 dollars.
Professional Grading Experts also known as PGX Comics, has one of the most notorious names in the entire comic book grading universe. PGX comics is one of the oldest grading companies out there. PGX was formerly known as CGG (Comic Grading Group) and was established in 2002. It was founded by Daniel Patterson and Terrance Leder with the mission to “meet the growing demand for independent, unbiased, third-party comic grading”. Professional Grading Experts claims to have a grading staff with over 150 decades of experience and is the most affordable growing service there is. However, there are a few things that you need to consider while choosing this grading company. Keep in mind that Professional Grading Experts have a notorious history when it comes to grading comics and have been involved in scandals because of it. Several years back, Professional Grading Experts was involved in a huge scandal of grading comic books at a higher value whereas, in reality, the books weren’t in the mentioned condition. Many comic book enthusiasts don’t trust the comic books that are graded by PGX and most avoid getting their precious books graded from this notorious grading company. There was also a rumour believed by many that PGX went bankrupt and was out of service but it’s not true.
Keeping these issues in mind, I personally bought a 9.2 (Near Mint-) graded comic book from Professional Grading Experts. Right after I received it, I removed the protective case and realized the comic book’s condition was not so good after all. So, I sent that same comic to the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC). When I received it, I was baffled that my comic book was nowhere near the 9.2 grade PGX gave the book. It was 8.5 according to CGC. Even a rookie was able to spot that the comic book’s condition was not so good as the mentioned grade. Similarly, there is a huge amount of distrust between the comic book’s collector’s community regarding Professional Grading Experts. Even most buyers don’t even accept book grades by PGX. So, keeping everything in mind, I will recommend you to either choose Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) or Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS).
Cost of getting your books graded by PGX:
If you are an avid comic book collector and you want to get you comic books graded. I’d personally suggest you to not go for PGX. However, if you just want to get your comic book protected then PGX might be a good choice. Avoid PGX if you can, they are very dishonest.
|Modern Comic Grading (1978-current)||$13.00|
|Standard Comic Grading (1959-1978)||$20.00|
|Golden Age Comic Grading (pre-1958)||$28.00|
PGX has a standard estimated delivery time of around 30 business days. However, you can choose a faster turnaround by paying more.
Express Grading Service with 12 Business Days turnaround time at the cost of $6.00 per book.
Next Day with 3 Business Days turnaround time at the cost of $40 per book.
Halo Certification Comic Book Grading is a relatively new book grading company. It was founded by Grant Audey in 2013 in Australia. Grant told in an interview that he was a book grader at CGC for more than 13 years who also owned a comic book shop. Grant was also an Overstreet comic book advisor and he left Overstreet and started his own book grading company. Now, Halo Cert. operates in Australia and in the United States simultaneously. Halo grading also has developed a strong following in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, and in the South Pacific. Even tho, its recent release Halo has a strong potential in the grading industry. Halo operates from both countries whereas other grading companies only deal in the United States (People have to ship their comic to the United states, just to get their books graded). Whereas, Halo operates from Australia as well. So, many comic book enthusiasts prefer using halo instead of shipping their comics to the United States.
Halo comic also implements NFC chips in its graded comic. These NFC enabled chips can be scanned by a smartphone and it provides all the details related to that specific comic book.
Cost of getting your comic books graded by Halo Cert. Comic book Grading:
Halo typically offers a turnaround time of 8 weeks. They also accept a minimum of 5 book to be graded. Halo doesn’t accept orders less than 5 books. There prices is listed below
|SUBMISSION TIER||PRICE||Minimum order|
|STANDARD RATE||$45||10 or more books|
|BUSINESS RATE||$55.00||minimum of 5 books|
|NEW MKII NFC||$55 per book||10 or more books|
Halo also charges a standard shipping rate of 48$ for 5 books and 76$ for 10 books.
Do I really need to get my Comic Book OFFICIALLY "Graded?"
If it is a prized comic book that you will keep forever and you love the presentation in the holder, then for sure it is definitely recommended. Grading not only makes your investment more liquid yet it protects it.
Furthermore, if you really want to read your graded comic book, there are a lot of ways to do that such as using a digital comic book app such as Marvel unlimited, DC Universe, or ComiXology. Alternatively, you can buy a reprint, TPB format, or really low grade copy/coverless.
If you’re intent on selling it, 3rd party grading is most often not cost effective unless it is thousands of dollars. The cost is often prohibitive and the time it takes to get it back is almost a crime.
Overall, CBCS is the best choice for customer service, and CGC is the best for current resale value. I’d recommend staying away from the others for maximum profit at least right now in 2020.