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Comic Grading Tutorial

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Introduction | Grading Definitions | Scarcity of Comics

Victorian and Platinum Age comics (1828-1933):
Many of these books were bound with thick cardboard covers and are extremely rare to non-existent in VF or better condition. Due to their extreme age, paper browning is very common. Brittleness could also be a problem.

Late Platinum and early Golden Age comics (1933-1940):
There are many issues from this period that are very scarce in any condition, especially from the early to mid- 1930s. Surviving copies of any particular issue range from a handful to several hundred. Near Mint-to-Mint copies are virtually non-existent with known examples of any particular issue limited to five or fewer copies. Most surviving copies are in FN-VF or less condition. Brittleness or browning of paper is fairly common and could be a problem.

Golden Age comics (1941-1952):
Surviving comic books would number from less than 100 to several thousand copies of each issue. Near Mint to Mint copies are a little more common but are still relatively scarce, with only a dozen or so copies in this grade existing of any particular issue. Exceptions would be recent warehouse finds of most Dell comics (6-100 copies, but usually 30 or less), and Harvey comics (1950s-1970s) surfacing. Due to low paper quality of the late 1940s and 1950s, many comics from this period are rare in Near Mint to Mint condition. Most remaining copies are VF or less. Browning of paper could be a problem.

Late Golden Age and early Silver Age comics (1953- 1959):
As comic book sales continued to drop during the 1950s, production values were lowered resulting in cheaply printed comics. For this reason, high grade copies are extremely rare. Many Atlas and Marvel comics have chipping along the trimmed edges (Marvel chipping), which reduces the number of surviving high grade copies even more.

Silver Age and early Bronze Age comics (1960-1979):
Early '60s comics are rare in Near Mint to Mint condition. Most copies of early '60s Marvels and DCs grade no higher than VF. Many early keys in NM or MT exist in numbers less than 10-20 of each. Mid-'60s to late '70s books in high grade are more common due to the hoarding of comics that began in the mid-'60s.

'80s and '90s comics (1980-1992):
Collectors are only now beginning to discover that 10-15 years spent in quarter boxes have rendered many '80s comics scarce in NM condition, and as modern collecting shifts its focus ever closer to the present, these will become increasingly sought-after and harder to locate in high grade as a result, but not nearly as difficult as earlier era comics that are genuinely rare in high grade.

'90s and Modern Age comics (1992-Present):
Comics of today are common in high grade. VF to NM is the standard rather than the exception. When you consider how few Golden and Silver Age books exist compared to the current market, you will begin to appreciate the true rarity of these early books. In many cases less than 5-10 copies exist of a particular issue in Near Mint to Mint condition, while most of the 1930s books do not exist in this grade at all.

*Reprinted by permission from The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #34. ©2004 Gemstone Publishing, Inc. Overstreet ® is a Registered Trademark of Gemstone Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

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