Standard & Qualified Grading Scales



Our Standard and Qualified grading scales consist of grades ranging from 10 to 100 which serve to rate an items overall condition. Depending on the overall numerical grade assigned, items are classified as Gold, Silver, or Bronze level. A generalized explanation of these grade levels is as follows:

Gold Level

The VGA Gold level consists of the grades 100, 95+, 95, 90+, 90, and 85+. When an items condition warrants classification within this level, the smallest of flaws are judged and taken into account to determine the exact grade received. The select few items which receive these grades are among the highest quality in existence. A very small percentage of items submitted to VGA receive a Gold level grade. An items flaws must be very minor, subtle, and can often be difficult to identify with the naked eye. A collector who is extremely condition sensitive should be satisfied with the condition of a Gold level item in the vast majority of instances.


Silver Level

The VGA Silver level consists of the grades 85, 80+, 80, 75+ and 75. Items which receive grades within this level range from having small flaws to having relatively significant flaws. Silver level grades represent a much larger range of condition than Gold level grades. The highest grade within this level, an 85, could most often be described as being near case fresh, with the lowest grade within this level, a 75, being somewhat shelf worn but still relatively nice. As a general rule, an item which receives the grade of 85 is a fantastic display piece and can often be right on the edge of Gold level condition. The term 'case fresh' is certainly justifiable, as the average item pulled from a sealed case would grade an 85 due to small flaws which occur when items are packaged or shipped from the factory. An item which receives the grade of 80 represents a nice example with minor to moderate flaws apparent upon close inspection. As a generalization, the average item which has spent time on a store shelf being moved around prior to purchase, but has otherwise been handled with relative care over the years may score an 80. The lowest Silver level grade is a 75 which represents an item with significant flaws which are much more evident than flaws visible on items which receive higher Silver level grades. An item which receives the grade of 75 will most often have significant wear, a fairly significant tear in the shrink-wrap, or other moderate to significant wear, but should be free of major flaws which would immediately draw the eye to them at first glance. For most high grade collectors, an 85 will be satisfactory. For most discriminating collectors, an 80 will be satisfactory. A 75 will most often be satisfactory to those who are not overly concerned with stresses, shrink-wrap tears, and other flaws which do not likely jump out at first glance like the flaws displayed by Bronze level items.

Bronze Level

The VGA Bronze level consists of the grades 70 and below. Items which receive these grades typically have damage ranging from simply noticeable upon first glance to extremely significant. Packaging may have significant stressing, creasing, and the box may be crushed or cracked. The Bronze level covers the largest range of conditions and the scope of flaws will range considerably. Condition for Bronze level items is determined by how many 'major flaws are present and how severe each flaw is. Bronze level items may have major flaws such as a torn off or cut-out POP or other large paper tears. Bronze level items may not be satisfactory to condition sensitive collectors.

Grade Qualifiers

YELLOWING: Since yellowing of a blister or window on a boxed or carded console or accessory occasionally occurs and can worsen over time, we will designate a qualifier of Y or YELLOW on the grade label if any signs of yellowing exist. (Example: Y-NM on a Classic label or YELLOW on a Clear View label)

UNCIRCULATED:  Items which meet certain criteria will be assigned the designation of uncirculated. A packaged item sent to us in an unopened factory case or sleeve will receive this designation. You can then be certain that the item has never been handled nor circulated within the retail or collectible market. Packaged items with double-tape, incorrect seal types, or other characteristics which would normally disqualify them from receiving a grade can be assigned a grade with the uncirculated designation. All items assigned this designation are graded using the same scale and under the same standards as other items.

Common Defects Factored into Grading

While virtually all flaws and imperfections are taken into account when assigning a grade, a list of some of the most common defects can be found below.

Cellophane (Shrink-Wrap)

The cellophane will be judged against dents, scratches, fading, yellowing, clouding, sticker residue, tearing, cuts, lifting, soiling, rub marks, tearing, factory cut and foreign items (ink mark or staple etc.).

Box

The box will be judged against creasing, bending, rolling, tearing, scuffing, scratching, lifting, print marks, loss of gloss, soiling, discoloring, edge wear, nicks, punctures, ink or foreign markings, peg hole punch, tape repair, focus, price sticker, sticker tear, sticker residue, water damage, bubbling and attached foreign objects.

Price Stickers

Price stickers are generally not considered major flaws, but only become a factor if curling, tearing, staining, picking, etc. of the sticker has occurred.  The location of the sticker is also a factor, though most are placed in an area such as a corner that does not detract from the overall appearance of the card.  Basically, the condition of the sticker factors into the card sub-grade, and from there into the overall grade of the piece.