View Full Version : Origin of Comic Book Grading System?
Red Oak Kid
05-05-2007, 07:28 AM
I was reading Blackhawk 223, August of 1966. Instead of a traditional letters page, there is a page of ads from readers offering to buy, sell and trade back issues of Blackhawk. One reader lists his issues for sale as being in Fine to Mint condition.
It just got me to wondering when did the grading system as we know it first appear and who created it?
05-05-2007, 08:13 AM
I don't know, but I bet the grading system came from some other collector's hobby, like baseball cards or coin collecting.
05-05-2007, 02:39 PM
Robert Overstreet, issued the first issue of his price guide in 1970. Print run was less that 2000, I remember seeing advertised in the Rocket Blast ComicCollecter.
I didn't buy it. Who wants to spend money on something that presumes to tell me how much something is worth.
It did define a grading system that eventually established itself as the first main standard.
Many comic ads prior to that had grading systems, it was fun to decipher them and count how many categories there were. Many ads also listed their comics as generally good to mint and would usually mark any that fell out of that general boundary.
Robert Bell sold his Marvels at pretty much one price, and the conditions were fine to mint depending on age and what he had on hand. In his later ads (post 1971 or so) he offered a premium on early issue Marvels in higher grade condition. Eventually he had a multi-column grade layout which is pretty much standard today.
I didn't keep any of my price lists from Robert Bell, Howard Rogofsky, Grand or Passaic. Kinda wish I had now. Bet you most of those are worth more that what Spidey #1 was listing for on the 1969 Bell price list. (About $9.00).
The first Overstreet Price Guide listed Amazing Fantasy #1 for $16 in mint condition.
The categories for listing condition got its start in the various adzines like Rocketblast Comic Collector. There was no hard core standard, but there were articles trying to establish them. Many fans (myself included) were buying the comic and considered it fair that the price was all inclusive of a very good or better condition copy.
By 1969 or so, condition columns were standard for the larger dealers, or at least those willing to buy full page ads in RBCC.
Post Overstreet, things tightened up, but there were still many fan ads that did not individually grade the comics they were selling (too time consuming, or it took up too much real estate in the tiny 1/2 or 1/4 page ad layout).
There were also lots of entire comic collections being sold circa 1969-70. I remember a large Marvel Collection with many multiple copies of key issues (three FF #1 for example) that was selling for a whooping $200 for over 1200 comical books. Too bad I was still a mere teen-ager with no regular income. I would have jumped on that one. Well maybe. $200 was pretty close to what my mom made in a week in that time frame. So it would have been a big budget hit to grab those.
-jb the (still tends to curse price-guides) ib -
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