Certification & Quality Validation
Our Quality Validation System is based on the standards laid out in the Overstreet Grading Guide with additional expertise gained from our experience in the antiquities, artifact, and collectibles industry. We closely monitor and calibrate our staff to maintain adherence to our established standards. However, quality validation is an inherently subjective process and there will always be small differences in opinion. Even professional grading services like CGC, CBCS, and PGX acknowledge that the same artifact may not always receive the same quality validation score if it is submitted more than once.
Artifacts housed in The Gallery or offered for sale through The Emporium are validated using The Gallery’s Quality Validation System and assigned a QV Number from our Ten-Point Quality Validation Scale:
The Ten-Point Quality Validation Scale assigns QV Numbers ranging from 10.0 (highest) down to 0.5 (lowest):
- 10.0 GM Gem Mint
- 9.9 M Mint
- 9.8 NM/M Near Mint/Mint
- 9.6 NM+ Near Mint+
- 9.4 NM Near Mint
- 9.2 NM- Near Mint-
- 9.0 VF/NM Very Fine/Near Mint
- 8.5 VF+ Very Fine+
- 8.0 VF Very Fine
- 7.5 VF- Very Fine-
- 7.0 FN/VF Fine/Very Fine
- 6.5 FN+ Fine+
- 6.0 FN Fine
- 5.5 FN- Fine-
- 5.0 VG/FN Very Good/Fine
- 4.5 VG+ Very Good+
- 4.0 VG Very Good
- 3.5 VG- Very Good-
- 3.0 GD/VG Good/Very Good
- 2.5 GD+ Good+
- 2.0 GD Good
- 1.8 GD- Good-
- 1.5 FR/GD Fair/Good
- 1.0 FR Fair
- 0.5 PR Poor
Each artifact that is exhibited in The Gallery and/or offered for sale through The Emporium is Registered with a QV Number and is Certified by The Gallery for Authenticity. Multi-Artifact Collections are also Certified by The Gallery for Completeness.
The Certificate of Authenticity, Registration, & Appraisal for each artifact contains the artifact’s QV Number, Date of Validation, Gallery Registration Number, Emporium ID, along with the Artifact’s Certification Statement and is Signed by the Gallery’s Executive Curator. The Certificate of Authenticity, Registration, & Appraisal also contains hidden security features that are proprietary to our emporium that are used for internal gallery validation purposes.
All artifacts housed in The Gallery or offered for sale through The Emporium may also be subject to 3rd party validation by CBCS and include Signature Verification should the collector desire The Emporium to facilitate such services during the ownership transfer process.
In the event facilitation is desired, the collector will receive a JIT 3rdParty Validation Contract that lists the specifics involved in the process.
JIT 3rdParty Validation provides a second layer of Quality Validation and Signature Validation directly through our partnership with CBCS.
Quality Validation Standards
When reviewing the possible defects gallery artifacts may have, as shown below for the various QV Scores, please keep in mind that while a single defect may not reduce an artifact’s QV Score, that defect if repeated and/or combined with other accumulated defects, may push the grade down by one or more grades.
Gem Mint (GM) condition
An exceptional example of a given artifact - the best ever seen. Only the slightest bindery or printing defects are allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Inks are bright with high reflectivity. Corners are cut square and sharp. Spine is tight and flat. Staples must be original, centered and clean with no rust. Paper is white, supple and fresh. No interior autographs or owner signatures.
Mint (M) condition
Nearly perfect in every way. Only the subtlest bindery or printing defects may present upon the artifact. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and minimal fading. Corners are cut square and sharp. Staples are generally centered and clean with no rust. Cover is generally well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and fresh. Spine is tight and flat.
Near Mint (NM) condition
A nearly perfect artifact that looks brand new with only a few very minor defects. Acceptable minor defects on a NM artifact include: a very small amount of spine stresses, very minor instances of denting (two or three at most), slight corner blunting, and minor (less than 1/8") bends without color breaks.
On the ten-point quality validation scale, a lower QV Number like 9.2 will allow these defects in a greater quantity and degree than a higher QV Number like 9.8, which sometimes may have no discernible defects at all. There is such a small degree of separation between the grades 9.8, 9.9, and 10.0 that even the most experienced artifact quality validation technicians may disagree on which of these three QV Numbers to assign to an apparently flawless artifact, so the highest QV Number we will assign to a artifact is 9.8.
Very Fine (VF) condition
Very Fine/Near Mint
A VF artifact has minor defects but is in overall excellent condition. Acceptable defects on a VF are minor and include: Minor corner wear, a light accumulation of spine stress that may include color-break, a light accumulation of dents, and bends or folds less than 1/4" (note that on a VF artifact, some color-break is allowed in a bend/fold).
Fine (FN) condition
An artifact in FN condition is considered "above average" but still displays some wear. In general, the eye appeal is somewhat reduced due to either an accumulation of minor defects or one or two moderate defects. Acceptable defects on an FN artifact include: Slight spine roll, a moderate accumulation of spine stresses that may break color, a spine split of less than 1/2", minor water spotting or residue (less than the size of a dime), an impacted corner, and moderate foxing.
Very Good (VG) condition
An artifact in VG condition shows some significant wear but has not accumulated enough total defects to reduce eye appeal to the point that it is not a desirable artifact. A VG artifact may have an accumulation of minor defects or one or two major ones. Acceptable defects on a VG artifact include: Spine roll, 1/2" to 1" spine splits or other tears, a cover or centerfold that is detached at one staple, discoloration due to oxidation, and a moderate accumulation of water damage or staining.
Good (GD) condition
A GD artifact has major defects but is still complete and readable. A GD artifact will have a significant amount of damage, usually an accumulation of smaller defects punctuated with some major defects. Acceptable defects on a GD artifact include: A vertical book-length crease, 1.5"-2" spine split, cover or centerfold completely detached, major tears, heavy discoloration/brittleness due to oxidation, heavy amounts of staining, residue, and water damage.
Fair (FR) condition
A FR is the lowest QV Classification an artifact can receive as long as the story and art are complete. A FR artifact will have virtually no eye appeal and will display major damage. Types of damage that place an artifact in FR range include: A spine split of up to 2/3 the length of the book, a missing back cover provided the front cover is still attached, severe water damage or residue damage, mold, and paper deterioration due to oxidation.
Poor (PR) condition
Artifacts in PR condition may be missing up to 4 pages (two spreads) of story pages or display severe damage that affects the readability of the book.
Glossary of Quality Validation Terms
When part of an artifact is curved, interrupting the flat, smooth cover surface. Bends WILL NOT show distinct lines (see also crease/fold).
A small horizontal rip in an artifact's cover that can usually be seen on both the front and the back. These are always found along the spine and should be graded like spine stress if they are shorter than 1/4".
Damage caused by the gnawing of rodents or insects (usually). Results in multi-page paper loss with jagged edges. Very visually distinct.
Bubbling on a cover's surface (typically a printing defect).
A fold that causes ink removal/color break, usually resulting in a white line (see bend/fold).
Indentations or dimpling (usually in the cover) that don't penetrate the paper or remove any gloss, but do interrupt the smooth, flat surface.
Technically a printing defect, double-cover books had an extra copy of the cover stapled on during manufacturing. This protective extra cover can be a boon, as these books are graded by the condition of the innermost cover.
When an artifact has been stored in a stack at some point in its life, any portions of the cover that weren't covered up by the adjacent books have been exposed to environmental air, light, and settling dust particles, sometimes creating lines of discoloration along the edges.
When finger oils left behind from everyday handling remain on an artifact's surface, they can begin to eat away at the ink, literally creating color-breaking fingerprints on the cover that are sometimes distinct and sometimes smudged. Finger oils can usually be wiped away, but fingerprints are irreversible.
A method of examining an artifact that uses its natural gloss and light (glare) to help you see imperfections in its surface, like denting.
Linear dents in paper that have distinct lines, but DO NOT break color (see also bend/crease).
Bacterial or fungal growth in the paper of an artifact (usually the cover) that presents in brownish discolored clusters or spots.
The shiny surface finish of an artifact.
The damage left behind when an artifact has been exposed to moisture (directly or environmentally). Water damage often presents with staining and/or a stiff or swollen feel to the paper. Look for lines of demarcation.
When the surface of an artifact has been compromised. This can be the result of heavy scuffing/abrasion, accidental tape pull, or the chemical reactions caused by some kinds of moisture damage.
Paper quality refers to the coloration and structural integrity of an artifact's cover and interior pages.
A flaw caused in the printing process. Examples: paper wrinkling, mis-cut edges, mis-folded or mis-wrapped spine, untrimmed pages/corners, off-registered color, color artifacts, off-centered trimming, mis-folded or unbound pages, missing staples.
A vertical cover crease near the staples that runs (generally) parallel to the spine, caused by bending the cover over the staples or just too far to the left. Squarebound books get these very easily.
Any attempt (professional or amateur) to enhance the appearance of an aging or damaged artifact. Dry pressing/cleaning and the simple addition of tape repairs are not considered restoration, but the following techniques are: recoloring/color touch, adding missing paper, stain/ink/dirt/tape removal, whitening, chemical pressing, staple replacement, trimming, re- glossing, married pages, etc. Restored artifacts generally carry lower value than their unaltered counterparts.
A light paper abrasion that may or may not break color but interrupts the surface gloss of the book. Its effect on grading is determined by severity.
Substances or residue on the surface of an artifact. Most commonly found in white spaces. Residue is a more severe form of soiling.
A spine stress that has devolved into a tear (usually through multiple wraps). Spine breaks greatly decrease the spine's structural integrity and are often found close to the staples.
A condition where the left edge of an artifact curves toward the front or back, caused by folding back each page as the artifact was read. Also usually results in page fanning.
A clean, even separation at the spine fold, commonly above or below the staple, but can occur anywhere along the spine length.
A small crimp/fold perpendicular to the spine, usually less than 1/4" long.
When a wrap has come completely loose from a staple and is no longer bound to the artifact in that area.
When staple rust has moved onto the surrounding paper, causing staining.
When one side of a cover has torn right next to the staple but is still attached by the slip of paper beneath the staple. If not handled carefully, a popped staple can lead to a detached staple.
Literally, rust on the staple.
A vertical cover-to-cover fold caused by the book being folded in half when sent through the mail directly from the publisher.
A single sheet of paper folded to form four pages of a story. Most modern artifacts have eight wraps, plus the cover (but there are exceptions!).
Writing can be found on/in artifacts in many forms, and downgrades are based on severity. Common things you'll see:
- Minor initial or date markings (do not affect grade except in the highest range)
- Names written on covers or in margins
- Interior puzzles filled out
- Marker scribbles
- Markings/coloring over interior art
- Writing indentations, in which no ink or pencil has touched the artifact, but it has been used as a writing surface, so you can see rough areas where the writing dented in.