Monday, April 4, 2016

CGC - Certified Guarantee Corporation

When it comes to comic book grading services, CGC is the big daddy of them all. The company was founded in 2000 and changed comic collecting and investing forever. Comic books are now encased, or slabbed, in a hard archival plastic case to be preserved forever. There is no longer any guessing when it comes to determining the grade of a comic. I know the pain in the butt that it is to go to a shop or a convention and thoroughly look over a book and try to judge it's condition, and then arguing with the dealer about it. I've seen many dealers over grade their books. CGC takes all of the guess work and arguing out of it.

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Let me try to explain how CGC comes to give the grades they do. A series of three graders examine each comic that is sent to them. The book is sent one by one to each grader. They look for any defects or restoration and takes notes on anything they find. They know nothing of the grade or the notes of the grader before them. Then the comic is looked at by the "head" grader. He looks at the comic and the notes of the three graders, and then assigns a final grade between .5 to 10. This is the grade that ends up on the label. Occasionally you may see a grade that says "NG". "NG" simply means No Grade. You will usually see an "NG" on comics that are in very bad condition, like comics that are missing covers and multiple pages or it might just be a single page of a comic. These "NG" graded books usually aren't very investment worthy but I have seen single pages of Amazing Fantasy #15 for sale on eBay, but I don't know if any of them sold or for how much if they did.

Before CGC encase the comics, they add microchamber paper between the cover and pages of the book. What this little piece of paper does is absorb the acids in the pages of a comic, especially older comics, and helps prevent any further damage. What these acids do is cause a yellowing to the cover over time. It's suggested to have your comics "reholdered" every seven or eight years to have be microchamber paper replaced, but that can get quite expensive and isn't really necessary. Leaving the paper in longer that 7 years won't cause extra damage to your comic.

Old CGC labels
There are many labels used by CGC. Some of them are old, outdated labels that are no longer in use but are still available to buy. You will occasionally see some pop up online or at a convention. The old labels are pictured to the left. The red label is a "Modern" label that is no longer used at all. The "Universal" and "Qualified" labels have been updated to the new design, as you will see below.

The new labels are much nicer than the old ones. They made the grade much more apparent and is overall far more appealing. They added a few more colored labels as well. I'll show you each color and what each one means. First we'll start out with the updated, blue Universal label.

The Universal label is a comic book that is in it's original condition. There has been no restoration, no witnessed or un-witnessed autographs, and not missing any pages or coupons cut out.

Next is the purple Restored label. A comic book that has had some kind of restoration will get this purple label. Examples of restoration would be color touch on the cover, trimmed edges, torn pieces reattached, ect... As of now, CGC doesn't consider a pressed or dry cleaned comic book restoration. A comic that has been pressed or dry cleaned will still get a blue Universal label.

A yellow label is their Signature Series label. A comic will get this label when it's been autographed by your favorite artist or writer in the presence of a CGC authorized witness. A comic that gets autographed and does not have an authorized witness will get a green Qualified label.

A green Qualified label if a comic that has an un-witnessed signature like I stated above or it has a page missing or coupon cut out that does not affect the story. Other defects that might get a Qualified label could be a large tear in the cover, as long as the comic still has a nice visual appeal. I don't really agree with this Qualified label. If a comic is missing a "value stamp" or other page or coupon and is an incomplete book, then it shouldn't get a grade of 9.2 like in the picture to the left. That's just my opinion though.

The blue and purple Conserved label is the newest label offered by CGC. They say on their website that the Conserved label applies to "any comic book with specific repairs done to improve the structural integrity and long-term preservation". This label sounds a lot like a restored label to me. So, a comic will get a Conserved label if it has been cleaned using solvents (not dry cleaned), pieces of the comic have been reattached or the staples have been replaced. Again, I'm not sure I like this label. A lot of the criteria for a Conserved label does sound a lot like restoration. But who am I say?

Lastly, there is the Restored Signature Series label. This yellow and purple label is a comic book that has had restoration like I mentioned above and also has a CGC authorized witnessed autograph, also like I mentioned above.

You can send your comics directly to CGC only if you sign up and pay for a membership. There are three membership levels. The Associate level for $39 a year, Premium for $149 a year, and Elite for $299 a year. Each level has it's perks. You can check their website here to see the details.

If you'd like to submit your comics to CGC without paying for a membership, you can visit their booth at a comic con. They are usually set up and taking submissions at most of the larger conventions. If you don't have access to a con, you can stop by one of your local comic shops and ask if they're an authorized dealer. If they are, they will send in your comics on your behalf.

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Having your comics graded by CGC won't be cheap. Especially if your're sending in older comics. Comics printed before 1975 will cost you $60 a piece to be graded. Comics printed before that will cost a minimum of $18. That's all before tax and shipping and handling charges. I've included the pricing chart to the right.

However, CGC'd comics will fetch a premium price when you decide to sell. CGC graded comics have a higher selling price than all of the other comic book grading companies. At least for now. However, the new company, CBCS, is starting to see some rising prices in their sales, but I'll be talking about them soon enough. If you'd like to check out CGC or sign up for a membership, click the link below.

Sign up for a CGC membership here.

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