How To Grade Your Own Cards:
Mint (MT): A perfect card. Well-centered with parallel borders which appear equal to the naked eye. Four sharp, square corners. No creases, edge dents, surface scratches, paper flaws, loss of luster, yellowing or fading, regardless of age. No imperfectly printed cards – out of register, badly cut or ink flawed – - or card stained by contact with gum, wax or other substances can be considered truly Mint, even if new out of the pack. Generally, to be considered in Mint condition, a card’s borders must exist in a ratio of 60/40 side to side and top to bottom.
Near Mint (NM): A nearly perfect card. At first glance, the card appears perfect; upon closer examination, however, a minor flaw will be discovered. On well-centered cards, three of the four corners must be perfectly sharp; only one corner shows a minor imperfection upon close inspection. A slightly off-center card with one or more borders being noticeably unequal – - but no worse than in a ratio of 70/30 S/S or T/B – - would also fit this grade. Yellowing or fading turn an otherwise mint card into NM.
Excellent (EX): Corners are still fairly sharp with only moderate wear. Card borders may be off center as much as 80/20. No creases. May have very minor gum, wax or product stains, front or back. Surfaces may show slight loss of luster from rubbing across other cards. Dark bordered cards may have one or two small nicks.
Very Good (VG): Shows obvious handling, but still looks nice. Corners may be rounded or perhaps showing minor creases. No major creases on a VG card. Surfaces may exhibit loss of luster, but the printing is intact. May show major gum, wax or other packaging stains. No major creases, tape marks or extraneous markings or writing. All four borders visible, though the ratio may be as poor as 95/5. Exhibits honest wear.
Good (G): A well-worn card, but exhibits no intentional damage or abuse. May have major or multiple creases, however, creases are not so deep as to show the underlying paper. This card is completely readable, has not been written on, and has no tape marks or holes. Corner rounding may extend well beyond the border.
Fair (F): Shows excessive wear, along with damage or abuse. Will show all the wear characteristics of a Good card, along with such damage as thumb tack holes in or near margins, evidence of having been taped or pasted, perhaps small tears around the edges or creases so heavily as to break the cardboard. Backs may show minor added pen or pencil writing, or be missing small bits of paper. Still basically a complete card.
Poor (P): A card that has been tortured to death. Corners or other areas may be torn off. Card may have been trimmed, show holes from a paper punch or have been used for BB gun practice. Front may have extraneous pen or pencil writing, or other defacement. Major portions of front or back design may be missing. Not a pretty sight.
CLICK THE CARDS BELOW TO SEE EXAMPLES OF CONDITIONS:
About Grading Lots:
When someone says a card lot is in EX condition, it means that the cards in that lot are in excellent condition based on a cursory examination. Because lots are graded quickly, you might occasionally find a VG or a NM in an EX lot or vice-versa. You may find 1-2 cards that are one grade off, higher or lower. The highest value cards in the group will be examined more closely, and should always be accurate.
You should NOT find any cards that are 2 grades off (for example a “Fair” in a VG lot or a “Good” in an excellent lot).