Its hard enough to know what comics have the best long term values to own; its more of a science than an art to understand the forces that drive and control prices. Its like educating a person who has always rented the intricacies of home ownership, or to someone who naively keeps their money under the mattress, explaining to them how stock options can improve their financial future!
The Guide is just that…a GUIDE, not a Bible
Ed is a strict “Overstreet” Dealer, both for grading standards and to reflect market pricing. Before publication of an Overstreet “Guide to Grading”, a knowledgable collector would adopt his own standards to review and grade “older” (silver,pre-code or golden-age) books.
The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (by the mid-1980’s editions) contained extensive grading advice, with written details describing “small” or “tiny” defects, like creases or rounded corners. The Guide explained foxing (browning spots in paper due to chemical composition or environment).
Knowing Grades = better buying decisions: Page color and quality, cover color richness and reflectivity, sharpness of corners, minimal spine wear or stress marks, staples, squareness of cut and minimized flaws of production/printing—all should be evaluated. Defects identified keep one from over-grading a book!
Adulteration of books (a written name on cover, arrival date, tape repair or color touch-ups) all impact on grading and values, but are more subjective to quantify. The Overstreet Guide has a short explanation about Restoration. There is now issues of Conservation, pressing and a “qualified” Grade, meaning something could be missing.
The CGC: the phenomenon in grading is the services of the Comics Guaranty Corp., independent comic professionals, who for a modest fee will grade comics objectively, identify and detect (and possibly-remove) restoration in a book, and then, certify their findings. Crazy Ed is a Charter Member/Dealer of the CGC, LLC–this meant in 1999 he was among the 1st 50 comic professionals nationally “appointed by CGC staff whom recommended them and these Charter Member/Dealers were entrusted with the role of educating their clients and the comic buying public when it is apporpriate and how to utilize CGC grading services.
Consistency: whether you are buying or selling-Grade the comics with the same criteria: consecutive years of Comic Buyer’s Guide (CBG) Customer Service awards and years of minimal returns shows how collectors react to Ed’s grade of a book! Collectors have asked Ed if he “deliberately undergrades his books.” With care and consistency in grading, whether buying or selling a book, a collector can confidently know they will not buy an overgraded book from Ed.
Ed’s 1990’s advertising catch-phrase to distinguish his print ads (in the days before eBay and the internet) was:
“Ed’s ‘Fine plus’ is someone else’s “VF” (very fine)!”
Higher Grades =Higher $$ Pricing: Dealers ask premium retail prices on higher grade collectibles. The Overstreet annual “market reports” states “books (that grade) NM or better can command premiums over guide…” Prices of 150% to 200% of ‘Guide NM’ is noit unusual for an especially nice Silver or Golden age comic. VF (Very Fine) or better condition books are an “investment grade classification”–they generally command near the Guide NM prices. Due to such distinctly higher prices, Ed is quite conservative when assigning a grade of VF or better.
Market Conditions on Grades of “Good”, “Fine” or “Fine-Plus” all the way to Near Mint (used to be called “Pristine Mint”.)
Generally, if a NM listed value was $100:
- “Fine” had been sold for about 40% of the NM value,
- “Very Good” went for about 20%
- and a “Good” went for about 10-15% of the NM listing.
Sudden Overstreet cutback on their own %’s.
In late 1997, Overstreet published an interim year price update which announced a significant and substantial reduction in the values of books in lower grades. This shocked the industry as it created huge up and down drafts in key book valuations, and there was no advance notice of the mid year “correction.”
PRICE% to Grade Ratios: Ed needs to redo this chart as a table: pending due to website re-construction in 2017. Check back or contact Ed.
are valuable as visual aids to understand the numbers recited.
Also to help interpret these charts and tables, refer to Abbreviations
Overstreet Price Ratios
Overstreet Price Ratios
Overstreet Price Ratios
Good (Gd): 25% of NM $ Good: 15% of NM $ Gd: ***Key # 1’s, Gd = 5-8% of OS NM $. For most SA & GA, Gd = 10% of the NM price
Fine (F or Fn): 50% of NM $ F: 35-40% of NM Price F: ***Key # 1’s, F = 10-20% of OS NM $. For most SA & GA, F = 25-30% of the NM price
Very Fine(VF): 75%* NM $ VF: 75%** NM Price VF: ***Key # 1’s, 30-35% of NM $. Dealers still ask 75% + of NM $ for VF or better
*average of basic grades **dealers ask 75% + of NM $ (for VF or better) ***see OS Guide on keys: Hulk 1 or FF1 or Am.Spider 1
Impact of the 1997-98 cutback(s): though the comic market had seriously discounted lower grade older inventory, the November 1997 Overstreet update hit like a bombshell. The cutback was one-third of the prior year’s price listing for the “Good” and “Fine”categories.
- Dealers needed major re-pricing to keep their books in line with new Guide values.
- Further, a dealer’s price (or discount) was now difficult to accurately evaluate.
Knowing about these market pricing changes is like $$ in a collector’s pocket. Key Silver Age books were once unaffordable with early ‘90’s inflation; many key books are now within reach of the modest collector.
Title Deflation-1998 to 2000: The April 1998 Overstreet Annual Guide reflected additional and substantial price roll-backs in many Silver age titles. The demand for high grade copies stayed strong, but the Overstreet noted that the overall supply (of these later Silver Age) titles was plentiful, “justifying a price rollback.” For example, see “big books” like Captain America 100, Iron man 1, Submariner 1, Hulk 102, etc. These Marvel titles (all began new series in 1968) dropped in their NM values, up to a third-off of the prior Guide prices.
Even pre-1968 classic titles like Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense dropped NM prices in the 1998-2000 Overstreet Guides. Typically, $45-50 NM books rolled back to $35-40. Beautifully drawn Jim Steranko Cap America (iss. 110-111; 113; late 1968) dropped from $75 in NM (1997) to $45 (2000). Nick Fury’s 1st appearance in S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strange Tales 135, 1965) dropped from $100 + in NM to $70. DC titles also experienced price reductions of late Silver Age runs. After the April 2001 publication of the Overstreet Guide to Comics, most silver age titles reflected noticable price increases (especially in NM grade).
A serious collector of (pre-1970) books must consult a current Overstreet price guide; an active collector cannot be unaware of price changes, even for lower grade comics!
The 10 Point system: it is now common for books to be graded on a 10 point system, with ‘incremental’ grades between, such as “NM 9.4” or “VF- 7.5.”
- The 10 point grading scale cam cause price confusion, especially lower grade comics.
- this is because “incremental grades” as a fraction of a perfect “Mint 10.0”, do not (uniformly) equate to a percentage of the NM prices.
Example: a Book may receive a grade of “G/VG” 3.0, but the market price would not approach 30% of the Guide NM price; perhaps closer to 10-15%. A “Fine-Plus 6.5 may command only an asking price of 30-33% of the NM Guide price.
Consistency overcomes subjectivity! Study the “Crazy Ed Grade to Price Ratio Chart”
Ed uses this chart to help compute grading/pricing. The chart resembles the current 10 point system; it was developed by Ed several years ago (when Overstreet grading was still on a “100 point” system).
Learn to ask questions, practice consistency; that is the key to learn basic grading skills. When a collector learns how to value “plus” or “minus” features of a comic, they develop a reasonable approach to fine-tune incremental steps between “Good” and “Fine”, and between “Fine”–“Very Fine”–or better.