Every CGC graded book is encapsulated in a plastic slab. This is done both to preserve the book itself and to facilitate the labeling of the comic. This label is placed above the book at the top of the slab. The comic is located in what is known as “the well”. A combination of sonic vibration and pressing locks the book securely in place.
Every label (no matter the color) presents detailed information about the book. There are currently six labels in circulation. However, one of these has been discontinued, leaving only five in use. That one is the red label. Originally, it was used for Modern Age books. Another important difference is that the information provided about the book did not dominate the label as it now does. The title was smaller, along with the rest of the text, and they were hard to read when you looked at them from a distance (at a convention, for example). These red label books can be returned to CGC for reinsertion to a new slab. Unfortunately, I don’t know what (if anything) they charge for this, though the normal reinsertion fee is eleven dollars.
The most common label is easily the blue one pictured below. This is for “CGC Universal Grade”. As with all of CGC’s labels, the numeric grade of the book is placed on the left-hand side. This is only given in numeric form unless the book has received a grade of 10 (in which case the words “Gem Mint” can be found underneath the numeric grade) or 9.9 (which carries the “Mint” descriptor). In the center of the label under “CGC Universal Grade” is the title. Under the title is the publishing company along with publication date. A little further down is the page distinction. For example, a 9.8 typically has “ whitepages” but some have been known to be “off white to white”, and I was told that they even have a 9.9 with that same page distinction. I’ll write more on page quality another time.
On every single label there is a ten digit bar code, or registration number. This number is unique for each encapsulated book. The number is located at the bottom of the tag and is what you add to your registry if you wish to show off your collection online. To the left and right of this number is more information about the book inside. On the left is the book’s creative team: writer, artist, and cover artist; typically in that order. To the right are any special notations like a first appearance or something about the book itself. For instance, Harbinger #1 is labeled based on whether or not it has the coupon attached. All unmodified books are given this label.
Next up is the yellow label, which identifies the book as a Signature Series. Aside from the color, these are very much the same as the blue labels. In between the page color and company information is the special notation of who it is signed by and the date. CGC will only place a signature series label on a book if they witnessed the signing. This is done by having a CGC representative present at the signing.
We also have the green label, which represents the CGC Qualified Grade. The information to the left and right of the registration number remains the same as the universal grade and/or Signature Series. This category is used when further information is needed to provide an accurate description of the book. For example, it often serves to denote books that have some defect worthy of note or those that were signed without a CGC representative present. Because of factors like these, the word “apparent” is added to the numerical grade.
The fourth color is purple, which is used for the restored books. As you might expect, this is when someone changes the book to bring it closer to the condition it was in when came off the shelf. There are those who look down upon these restored books since they are not, strictly speaking, entirely original copies. As a result, these are usually a lot cheaper than non-restored copies. I have two of these, one of which I bought knowing it was restored since it was already graded, and one that I didn’t realize had been restored until I submitted it to CGC. As with the green label books, the word “apparent” is added to the grade. Additionally, a description of the nature of the restoration is placed in the center of the label. For example, the Sub-Mariner #38 I purchased raw included the phrase “top & right edge trimmed” on the label.
The last label represents a restored Signature Series book. Naturally, this combines of those two categories into a single yellow label with a purple border. This is a restored comic book signed in front of a CGC witness. As I do not actually own one of these, I have no reference point, but can only surmise that with the numeric grade is the word apparent and that the information in the center should include not only the usual signature information, but also the nature of the restoration.
Thank you for reading.