Where is the cut-off for “High Grade”?

If we’re discussing where the cut-off for “high grade” comics would be, in terms of condition, then there’s an answer based on the eye appeal of a comic.  It’s hard to see how a comic book rated at least Very Fine to Near Mint (VF/NM, or 9.0 on the 10 scale) wouldn’t be a “high grade” comic according to its appearance.

However, if the comic was produced last week and was a 9.0 condition, it would actually be “low grade” relative to the quantities which would be available at 9.4 (Near Mint) and above.

It would be hard to say that 9.6 or higher is required for a comic to be “high grade” (regardless of age) since there are older comics which may not even exist in grades above 8.0, particularly comics from the beginning of the superhero genre of the late 1930s to 1940s.

Using the decades of the comics as a guide, and offering possible cut-off points as a percentage of CGC graded copies (Universal and Signature), the following chart provides some extra information to the discussion.

There isn’t a definite conclusion to be made from the numbers, and there isn’t a definite answer to when comics no longer “look high grade” from an appearance standpoint (being in the eye of the beholder), but more than 3,000,000 CGC graded comics were analyzed to produce the chart above. That’s at least a little more information than we had before.

The Age Old Question…

Some traditional names for the ages of comic books have been in place for a while (Golden Age, Silver Age), and some are still being argued (Copper Age, Modern Age).

This website will usually refer to comic books by the decade of their release (or date printed inside), rather than by ages, Golden, Silver, Bronze, etc.

While there is little doubt that a comic book from 1939 and another from 1952 are both Golden Age, there is a significant difference in comics from the 1930s compared to comics from the 1950s.  The addition of a sub-age in the Golden Age (like Atomic Age) may be useful for some, but in all cases these ages are linked with years.

For clarity and to eliminate confusion, this website will say 1950s comic books when it means 1950-1959, rather than attempt to separate Golden Age, Atomic Age, and Silver Age… which can all lay claim to at least a portion of the 1950s.

Comics from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s will be referenced in the tags of articles and charts, when applicable.  Other age labels may be included, but will not be required.

Notes on CGC census information

The CGC Census is updated weekly at cgccomics.com and was updated periodically as early as 2003.  It is the policy of CGC to replace their census information with each update, so the author of this site created a database for prior CGC census data.  As each update was released, the database grew to the point that CGCdata.com was established to provide an easy method for searching current and historical CGC census information.  Permission was given by CGC for the compilation and provision of the historical CGC census data starting in 2003.  Earlier CGC census data files originally provided to the authors of the Standard Catalog of Comic Books from July 2001 and January 2002 were also provided to CGCdata.com.

Additional information is often requested which is not available in the CGC Census.  Examples include: grader notes, the identity of signatures, and individual submitter or dealer submission information.  That type of information is not available in the CGC Census, and is not available to CGCdata.com or slabdata.com.

The CGCdata.com and slabdata.com websites only contain information which was publicly available, which has been stored and compiled for analysis.

What is slabdata.com?

Slabdata.com is a blog established in 2017, associated with CGCdata.com Census Analysis.  The CGC census data available is from July 2001 to present.  No information is available at CGCdata.com that was not publicly available on the official CGC Census at cgccomics.com.  The data has been compiled with the permission of Comics Guaranty LLC since 2003, and the search engine for CGC Census Analysis has been available at CGCdata.com since 2011.  Greg Holland is the administrator of CGCdata.com and slabdata.com.

… but what is a slab?

‘slab’ is the common term used to refer to professionally graded comic books.  The term ‘raw’ is often used to refer to any comic book which has not been professionally graded, in other words,’raw’ is the original way a comic book is published and distributed for reading and collecting.

In addition to receiving a third-party opinion on the condition of the comic book (including a check for restoration), slabbed comics are encapsulated and assigned a serial number by the grading company.

As of January 2017, only the CGC grading company has made their census data public.  When another grading company provides census data, it will be incorporated with their permission into the database and referenced on this blog.