Sport Collectible Grading Tutorial


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Welcome to Heritage's Sports Collectibles Department
Heritage offers rare vintage sportscards and memorabilia through our impressive catalog 'Signature Auctions' as well as through the internet to our bidder-members via our monthly 'Internet Sports Auctions'.

About Heritage Auctions ...
Heritage Auctions is the largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house in the world. We are also the undisputed Internet leader in our field. Our 686,269 registered online bidder-members are a testament to the usefulness of our website, our reputation for professional business practices and our vast expertise in the field of art and collectibles.

Heritage Auctions, established in 1976, offers a wide range of US & World Coins, Rare Currency, Fine & Decorative Art, Western Art, Illustration Art, Vintage Comic Books & Comic Art, Movie Posters, Entertainment Memorabilia, Jewelry & Timepieces, Vintage & Couture Handbags, Sports Collectibles, Historical & Political Memorabilia, Rare Books & Manuscripts, American Indian Art, Air & Space Memorabilia, Civil War Memorabilia, Vintage & Contemporary Photography, Natural History Specimens and more.

We give our customers unprecedented access to our services using the latest advancements in technology and by maintaining a strong presence in the collectibles community.

Our knowledgeable staff of over 100 experts and 300 additional service-oriented professionals, and our suite of services, help our customers develop the best collections possible.

We are always looking to acquire interesting items, whether through consignment or by outright purchase, and we spend or disburse millions of dollars every business day, on average, keeping our clients' demands satisfied.

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Sport Collectible Grading Tutorial

  1. 1. Sports Collectible Grading Tutorial
  2. 2. Sports Collectible Grading TutorialView grading tutorials for other collectible typesEach collectible niche such as coins, comics, and currency creates its own grading terminology and sports collectiblesare no exception. The main criterion for determining the value of a collectible is condition, and the better the conditionof the item, the more valuable it is. Condition grading can be subjective and many collectors differ on the strictness oftheir grading. But with the evolution of grading services in the industry over the past decade, much of thesubjectiveness has been reduced and most have adopted the following standards.Typical Grading Standards for Cards*When using these standards, remember that no allowance is made for age. An 1887 Allen & Ginter is graded on thesame scale as a 1987 Topps card.Fair (F) to Poor (P): The cards corners will show extreme wear, with many major imperfections. Surface of card willshow advanced stages of wear, including scuffing, scratching, pitting, chipping and staining. Picture will possibly bequite out of register and borders may have become brown and dirty. May have one or more heavy creases or tearing.Card may show noticeable warping. Fair or Poor cards are usually valued at approximately 5% of the Near Mint price.Good (G): A good cards corners show accelerated rounding and surface wear is starting to become obvious. The cardmay have scratching, scuffing, light staining, or chipping of enamel on obverse. There may be several creases,discoloration, and original gloss may be completely absent. Good cards are usually valued at approximately 5%-10% ofthe Near Mint price.Very Good (VG): The card reveals obvious handling and some rounding of the corners, though not extreme. Somesurface wear will be apparent, along with possible light scuffing or light scratches. A VG card may have a crease andoriginal gloss is most likely lost. VG cards are usually valued at approximately 15% of the Near Mint price.Very Good-Excellent (VG-EX): Corners may be slightly rounded. Surface wear is noticeable but modest. May havelight scuffing or light scratches. Some original gloss will be retained. Borders may be slightly off-white. A light creasemay be visible. VG-EX Cards are usually valued at approximately 20% of the Near Mint price.
  3. 3. Excellent (EX): Very minor rounding of the corners is becoming evident. Surface wear or printing defects are morevisible. There may be minor chipping on edges. Loss of original gloss will be more apparent. Focus of picture may beslightly out of register. Several light scratches may be visible upon close inspection, but do not detract from the appealof the card. Card may show some off-whiteness of borders. EX cards are usually valued at approximately 30% of theNear Mint price.Excellent-Mint (EX-MT): A very light scratch may be detected only upon close inspection. Corners may have slightlygraduated fraying. Picture focus may be slightly out of register. Card may show some loss of original gloss, may haveminor wax stain on reverse, may exhibit very slight notching on edges and may also show some off-whiteness onborders. EX-MT cards are usually valued at approximately 45% of the Near Mint price.Near Mint (NM): A near-perfect card with perhaps one minor imperfection, such as one blunt corner. No stains orscratches on face and no visible wear. Slight wax staining is acceptable on the back of the card only. Most of theoriginal gloss is retained. Most NM cards are the standard for which other grades are usually gauged. Centering mustbe approximately 70/30 to 75/25 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.Near Mint-Mint (NM-MT): A high-end card that appears Mint at first glance. But upon closer inspection, the card canexhibit the following: A very slight wax stain on reverse, slightest fraying at one or two corners, a minor printingimperfection and/or slightly off-white borders. Centering must be approximately 65/35 to 70/30 or better on the frontand 90/10 or better on the reverse.Mint (MT): A superb condition card that exhibits four sharp corners, no imperfections or signs of wear. Cards straightout of the pack are not always considered Mint, they must still be reviewed for any imperfections such as centering,wax staining, or print flaws. Centering must be approximately 60/40 to 65/35 or better on the front and 90/10 or betteron the reverse.Gem Mint (Gem): A virtually "flawless" card with sharp focus, four sharp corners, free of stains, no breaks in surfacegloss, no print or refractor lines, and no visible wear. A slight print spot visible under close scrutiny is allowable if itdoes not detract from the aesthetics of the card. The card must be centered within a tolerance not to exceedapproximately 55/45 to 60/40 percent on the front, and 75/25 percent on the reverse.Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, withannual sales more than $750 million, and 600,000+ online bidder members. For more information about HeritageAuctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photosof each lot, please visit to get the up-to-the-minute updates and breaking news stories about Heritage Auctions? Get them as they happenat:; Facebook: view a complete archive of Heritagepress releases, go to: