Writers Note: I am focusing more here on CGC as I did in the earlier posting, for the reason being that they set the standard with the grading practices. PGX is another company that does grading, but given the reputation that they have apparently garnered, I will not focus on them.
OK, so with the first part of this special piece, I would like to add in a little bit more on what it was that I am talking about:
Encapsulating, or “Slabbing” comics is not really a new process, but at the same time, it is done only by one company. While this is not that big of a shock, I do feel that it should be pointed out, that the community has made some noise in the past about the sudden inflation of price for comics on the secondary market.
Back several years ago, I was part of a crew that worked out of a small comic shop in Metro Detroit.
In those few years that I was involved with the comics retail business (was part of the crew for nearly 4 years, and was one of the owners for the last 2 years I was there) there was a little bit of an uproar in the collectors community when it came to the practice of grading comics.
I was one of the two appraisers that we had on staff, and was in charge of authenticating the comics that we had that were “wall books” and every now and then, I would have to go out and appraise full collections.
Now CGC as we know it, was founded on January 4th 2000, but the method of slabbing goes back a few more years than that. Either way, the company for the most part really is the only one in the game that sets the pricing on the final graded comic.
When this process is done, there is a grading score that is based on a 1 out of 10 style of grading. There are grades that are in between, such as 8.5, 9.5, etc. And that final grade determines the further value of the comic.
Now back in the day, and really for 43 years now, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has been the definitive pricing guide for comics collectors and retailers alike. The main reason for this has been that the Overstreet guide has pretty much always been stable with it’s pricing.
Wizard Magazine was also rather stable with the pricing, and was not far off from the prices that were in Overstreet, but did not have the depth of Overstreet when it came to the Golden Age comics, and publishers that were from that era that do not exist anymore, such as Gold Key Comics and King. So they were a good supplement on a monthly basis that were more focused on the modern/current comics, but in the cases of comics that had runs that went back to the golden age, would have their prices going back to that time. Like Action Comics and Detective Comics.
So, now that it has been established that the guides have been out there to give pricing, here is where the first pitfall of graded pricing would be…
The sealed comics are appraised at a value that almost ensures that they might not be able to be sold unless your clientele is of a very high expendable income.
Here is an example of the grading difference as I kind of touched on in my previous post.
And issue of Swamp Thing #1 in a 9.6 condition grading, at the time of this writing, was currently going for $396.00 on Ebay.
9.0 is Mint Condition, so 9.6 damn near off the press quality.
Without that 9.6 grading, the comic is instead priced at $95.00, which is a very respectable price point, but at that same time… that is a $300.00 price difference.
Point is, most of us that collect comics, would most likely not have that amount of money lying around to just go ahead and purchase that comic in the graded encapsulation.
Furthermore, there is a different problem with grading. That is the worthiness of a comic being graded. As in, key issues here and there would be worth grading, but many others are not. Such as Hulk #181 would be worth getting graded as it is the first appearance of Wolverine. Anazing Spiderman #121 (death of Gwen Stacy) or even Daredevil # 6, the first appearance of the Red Costume.
But now, at the same time, while I would be all about grading the books… here is my objection. It takes the “raw” comic off of the market, and it contributes to the loss of these books from circulation, making it harder for a other collectors to find copies to fill in the holes in their collection.
Join me for Part Three, wherein I wrap up my feeling on comics grading.