You know how you go on Amazon or eBay and the items are given laels “Like New,” “Good,” Fair,” and “Poor”? Comics are the same. On on-line shops, such as Comic Collector Live, the comcs are given rating. A list from Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) gives these basic conditions: Gem Mint, Mint, Near Mint, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. There are more details than that, but it’s the basic gist of it.
There’s more than just the condition of the comics. It’s the coloring, wear and tear, weathering, etc. The reason that comics should be stored properly, in Mylar sleeves, with backings is to prolong the aging, so that the comics stay in better condition for longer. And it’s more for the Golden Age and Silver Age comics, which were printed on paper that is more like newsprint than the acid-free paper that modern comics are printed on.
Another way to keep comics in near mint is to have them restored. Some restoration work can lower the value of the comics, depending on how much work is done on the comic. Also, some restoration can be expensive, so the comic should probably be old and rare in order to be worth it. However, I could be wrong and misintrepreting what I read. I don’t own any Golden or Silver Age comics. Heck, I think the earliest comic I own is 2008.
Anyway, some restoration work that can be done includes color touch, tear seals, spine split seals, cleaning, reinforcement or re-glossing. These can be done professionally, but fans have been fixing their comics since they first came out. From what I hear, tape is an easy fix. The idea of putting tape on my comics makes me shudder. I’ve seen tape remove color and shine from a painted wall. The mere thought of what tape could do to a comic… I don’t like to think about it.
Another note on restoration and buying/selling comics: Restoration changes the value of a comic, for good or for ill. Some sellers will not state if a comic has been restored, so the buyer could be spending more on a comic than the comic is worth (Let the buyer beware).
From what I understand, having comics graded puts them into a holder that isn’t really supposed to be opened. now, it can be. But once the holder is opened, the comic will need to be re-certified. Part of me then thinks that having comics in a nice holder that you aren’t really supposed to be opened is a foolish idea. Comics should be read. On the other hand, for older comics that are collectables, I can see the wisdom is having them graded and sealed so that their value is protected.
I guess, for now at least, I’ll enjoy my comics. Like I said, my oldest one is from 2008 and I take very good care of them. And while I collect, I collect for the sheer enjoyment of it. But, if I ever came into possession of a rare, older comic, there’s agood chance I would send it to CGC to be graded and sealed and kept safe.
Certified Guaranty Company. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cgccomics.com/.
Heritage Auction Galleries. (2009). Comic Grading Tutorial. Retrieved from http://comics.ha.com.