CGC (Certified Guaranty Company) changed the way I collect comic books. They were founded January, 2000 in Parsippany, NJ. and are currently headquartered in Sarasota, FL.  CCG (Certified Collectibles Group) presides over them along with NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation for grading coins), NCS (Numismatic Conservation Services for conservation of coins), PMG (Paper Money Guaranty) and CGC Magazines (the same thing CGC does for comic books).

CGC travels around the country accepting comics at conventions.  They also occasionally have on-site grading. Although this costs a bit more, there is a 95% chance you will get the books back the same weekend. Philadelphia, Chicago, and LA are just some of the city’s that have hosted comic conventions with CGC performing this service.

At conventions where CGC does not offer on site grading they will accept your comic books, fill out an invoice and safely package them up to transport them back to their headquarters for grading. You can also submit books under your own membership number as a registered paying member of the Collector’s Society (free memberships are also available).  Once your books are in Florida and accepted the process begins.  After the allotted amount of time your book will be encapsulated in a tamper proof slab (the terminology for one graded book) with a numerical grade for the comic book.

In case you’re curious, a perfectly graded comic book is considered Gem Mint, numerically speaking a 10 or aesthetically pleasing as Bo Derek. A 9.9 is the next grade down or Mint. Both of these grades are extremely difficult to achieve, not impossible but rare. The likelihood of getting a Signature Series in the same grades becomes closer to the odds of winning the lottery. For example, there is currently only one 9.9 Signature Series copy of The New Teen Titan’s #26.  The selling price is $1500 compared to a Universal 9.8 which averages around $45 (This average is a compiled amount over the past 12 months). There are 39 copies in a 9.8, 10 of those are Signature Series books.

You can have any grade in any of the following categories: Universal (Blue Label),

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Signature Series (Yellow Label),

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Qualified (Green Label),

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and Restored (Purple Label).

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A Purple Restored label could also be mixed with a Green Qualified, or a Yellow Signature label.  More on these break downs another time. Let’s concentrate on the high end numerical grades.

A 9.8 seems to be the grade that most registered registry users are happy with. The majority of my collection is a 9.8 or Near Mint/Mint. I have one 9.9 and two Gem Mint books. I hope to increase this number. Then there are 9.6 or Near Mint Plus and 9.4 also known as Near Mint. These two grades are out there and more desirable with books from the 60s and 70s and more affordable then a 9.8 from the same era. So what grade is good for you? Which ones should you collect? And what is the first thing you should know about collecting CGC graded comic books?

The first thing is space.  How much of it do you have? A long box holds about 300 books, of course this all depends on how you bag or board them; or if combinations of both are used, as well as what bags are being used. A half box holds approximately 150 books. Once again this depends on your bag and boarding procedures. There is only one size CGC box and although the box is wider and higher than a half box, it is not as long as one, ok…well maybe slightly.

I purchased shelving units for the main purpose of holding my comic books. I got these from IKEA and unfortunately they no longer make them. Each shelving unit safely holds five boxes of comic books, which is about 750. What if I take the same five slots for CGC boxes? If each CGC box holds 32 to 35 slabs then we are talking about the shelf holding about 160 graded comic books compared to holding approximately 750 raw (Ungraded) comic books.

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Using my New Mutants collection as an example I can store in one half box volume number one issues one through 100, Annuals one through seven, the Special Edition, Volume Two, issues one through 13, and Volume Three, issues one through 20 with all the variants. One CGC box in the same space can hold issues number one through 33 of the same series. If you can allot the space for it (you can always start off small),, I recommend thinking about the next question. How much are you willing to spend?

Just recently I purchased a copy of Uncanny X-Men #183.  I’ll give you a second to think of the issue I am talking about; never mind here is a picture.

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There’s nothing special about it, no first appearance, no signature, and no reason I spent $45 on this book other than it is a 9.8 with white pages.  I don’t like to spend any more than that on a non-key issue from this era. By the way it looks a lot nicer in my hands.

Go on eBay or check out Overstreet’s and the books high price will most likely be three dollars. So why did I spend fifteen times the going rate for a book, other than I liked it, or wanted it. It is because it is the best book possible that I can afford. I tried purchasing it twice before and each time the bid went higher than I wanted to pay. Don’t let the thrill of bidding carry you away. Decide what you want to spend and DO NOT GO OVER that amount. The book you win could cause regret later.

I would be very happy with a 9.4 for any book from the 60s and can be just as happy with a 9.2 from earlier in the same decade which would be considered a Near Mint Minus. I have a copy of Daredevil  #90 in a 9.0 which is considered a Very Fine/Near Mint book. This is one of the first CGC books I ever got, and it was cheap. The higher grade the higher the price, this goes without saying but having a third-party grade it increases its worth exponentially.

The other item you might need is patience. Out of the New Mutants set some issues do not currently exist in a 9.8, on others there is only one. I need 11 more in a 9.8 or greater and all I can do is wait.

Next we’ll go over the labels but until then thanks for reading.

 

Any questions can be asked in the comments section below or you can reach me on twitter @CGCLee or [email protected]