Trading Card Grading Guide



A Gem Mint card is a virtually perfect card. The card should have four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss. The card must be free of staining of any kind, but an allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection if it doesn’t impair the overall appeal of the card. Edges should be free of any flaws. The image must be centered on the card within a tolerance not to exceed approximately 55/45 percent or better on the front and 75/25 percent or better on the reverse.



A superb condition card that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws: a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders. Again, the card should have four sharp corners and smooth edges. Centering must be approximately 60/40 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.



A high-end card that appears to be in Mint condition at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the card can exhibit the following: a very slight wax stain on reverse, slightest fraying at one or two corners, a minor printing imperfection, and/or slightly off-white borders. No creasing allowed at this grade. Edges should be relatively smooth. Centering must be approximately 65/35 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.



A card with just a slight surface wear visible upon close inspection with no creasing at this grade. There may be slight fraying on some corners. Slightly rough edges should be okay. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. A minor printing blemish is acceptable. Slight wax staining is acceptable on the back of the card only. Most of the original gloss is retained. Centering must be approximately 75/25 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.



A card may have visible surface wear or a printing defect which does not detract from its overall appeal. No creasing. A very light scratch may be detected only upon close inspection. Corners may have slightly graduated fraying and the card may have slightly rough edges. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. Card may show some loss of original gloss, may have minor wax stain on reverse, may exhibit very slight notching on edges and may also show some off-whiteness on borders. Centering must be 80/20 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.



Very minor rounding of the corners is becoming evident. Surface wear or printing defects are more visible. There may be minor chipping on edges and they may be noticeably rough looking. Loss of original gloss will be more apparent. Focus of picture may be slightly out-of-register. Several light scratches and scuffing may be visible upon close inspection, but do not detract from the appeal of the card. Card may show some off-whiteness of borders. Centering must be 80/20 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.



A card’s corners may be slightly rounded with some light chipping or notching on the edges. Surface wear is noticeable but modest with some hairline creases. The card may have light scuffing or light scratches. Some original gloss will be retained. Borders may be slightly off-white. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.



A card that may reveal some rounding of the corners, though not extreme. Some surface wear will be apparent, along with possible light scuffing, light scratches, or a minor crease. Focus may be somewhat off-register and edges may exhibit noticeable wear and notching. Much, but not all, of the card’s original gloss will be lost. Borders may be somewhat yellowed and/or discolored. Printing defects are possible. Slight stain may show on obverse and wax staining on reverse may be more prominent. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.


(G-2) GOOD

A card’s corners show accelerated rounding and surface wear and damage is starting to become obvious. A good card may have scratching, scuffing, light staining, or chipping of enamel on obverse and on the edges. There may be several noticeable creases. Original gloss may be completely absent. Card may show considerable discoloration. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.


(FR-1.5) FAIR

The card’s corners will show extreme wear, possibly affecting framing of the picture. The surface of the card will show advanced stages of wear, including scuffing, scratching, pitting, chipping and staining. The picture will possibly be quite out-of-register and the borders may have become brown and dirty. The card may have one or more heavy creases. In order to achieve a Fair grade, a card must be fully intact. Even though the card may be heavily worn, it cannot achieve this grade if it is missing solid pieces of the card as a result of a major tear, etc. This would include damage such as the removal of the back layer of the card or an entire corner. The centering must be approximately 90/10 or better on the front and back.



The card will exhibit many of the same qualities of a Fair 1.5 but the defects may have advanced to such a serious stage that the eye appeal of the card has nearly vanished in its entirety. A Poor card may be missing one or two small pieces, exhibit major creasing that that is nearly to the point of breakage or it may contain extreme discoloration or dirtiness throughout obstructing the contents of the card. Original gloss is gone. A card of this nature may also show noticeable warping or another type of destructive defect and will most likely have severely chipped or notching on the edges. At this point, the centering doesn’t really matter. It’s time for an upgrade.