An In-Depth Comparison of Green Label and Blue Label Grading
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Lately, there have been a number of inquiries about CGC Green Label “qualified” grading, including (1) what types of defects result in a Green Label, and (2) how should Green Label books be valued. In my opinion, both questions are worthy of further discussion.

 

All of the images included herein were taken from the Heritage Auction Galleries (HA) archives. Over the years, HA has sold over 300,000 comic-related items, including approximately 630 unique CGC Green Label slabs. Even though the archives contain only a fraction of the books encapsulated by CGC, I believe the number of examples contained therein is large enough to guarantee that the HA sample population is roughly representative of the whole.

 

Let’s begin by identifying specific defects that have led to encapsulation in a Green Label Qualified Grade holder. For simplicity, I’ve subdivided these defects into seven categories, as shown below. The second column represents the defect, while the first column represents the number of occurrences of that specific defect.

 

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Green Label Category 1 Examples:

 

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Green Label Category 2 Examples:

 

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Green Label Category 3 Examples:

 

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th_G3-6.jpg th_G3-7.jpg th_G3-8.jpg th_G3-9.jpg th_G3-10.jpg th_G3-11.jpg

 

Green Label Category 4 Examples:

 

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th_G4-4.jpg th_G4-5.jpg th_G4-6.jpg th_G4-7.jpg th_G4-8.jpg th_G4-9.jpg

 

Green Label Category 5 Examples:

 

th_G5-1.jpg th_G5-2.jpg th_G5-3.jpg th_G5-4.jpg th_G5-5.jpg

 

Green Label Category 6 Examples:

 

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Green Label Category 7 Examples:

 

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th_G7-6.jpg th_G7-7.jpg th_G7-8.jpg th_G7-9.jpg th_G7-10.jpg th_G7-11.jpg

 

Let’s now address the question of how Green Label books should be valued. Because it’s easiest to establish a book’s value once each and every one of its defects have been accounted for via a single representative grade, Blue Label equivalents will be shown for most of the qualifying defects enumerated above.

 

Blue Label Equivalents for Category 1:

 

Approximately 34% of the Green Label books in the HA archives are incomplete by virtue of a missing page, piece, coupon, or attachment (Category 1 in the table provided above). Fortunately, a few incomplete books have been encapsulated in Universal Grade holders, and some of those Blue Label examples are shown below. On this basis, it appears that the “true” grade of an incomplete book is either Poor (CGC 0.5) or Fair (CGC 1.0), depending on whether the specimen is missing a page (any page, story or non-story), a panel, or merely a coupon.

 

th_B1-1.jpg th_B1-2.jpg th_B1-3.jpg th_B1-4.jpg th_B1-5.jpg

 

Blue Label Equivalents for Category 2:

 

Approximately 28% of the Green Label books in the HA archives have partially or completely detached covers, centerfolds, and/or wraps (Category 2 in the table provided above). Fortunately, many similarly flawed books have been encapsulated in Universal Grade holders, and some of those Blue Label examples are shown below. Since the detachment defect is the primary (or perhaps even sole) flaw, these high-grade examples reveal the approximate deduction that CGC takes for a specific detachment defect when it is not ignored. On this basis, it appears that: a lightly worn book with a cover detached at a single staple will have a Universal Grade of 7.0 to 7.5; a book with a completely detached cover will have a Universal Grade of 4.0 or lower (depending on the severity of its other defects); a pristine book with a centerfold detached at a single staple will have a Universal Grade as high as 9.2 or 9.4; and a lightly worn book with a completely detached centerfold will have a Universal Grade of 6.5 to 7.0. Note: DC comics from the mid-1960s were manufactured with relatively thin cover stock and are especially prone to suffering a “blown” staple.

 

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th_B8-7.jpg th_B8-8.jpg th_B8-9.jpg th_B8-10.jpg th_B8-11.jpg th_B8-12.jpg th_B8-13.jpg

 

Notes on Category 3:

 

Approximately 28% of the Green Label books in the HA archives have either a “married” component or “tweaked” staples (Category 3 in the table provided above). About half the books with staple modifications come out of only three collections: forty-eight books with cleaned staples (Four Color and Duck books) are from the Don Vernon Collection; another dozen or so books with cleaned staples (All-American, All-Flash, All-Star, and Flash Comics) came to market as a group during the summer of 2002; and ten books with cleaned or replaced staples are from the Pinnacle Hill Collection.

 

Notes on Category 4:

 

Less than 2% of the Green Label books in the HA archives have manufacturing/production defects such as missing staples, detached pages, missing ink, off-register cover colors, or an incorrect interior (Category 4 in the table provided above). I have not been able to find scans of Universal Grade books with identical flaws.

 

Blue Label Equivalents for Category 5:

 

Approximately 4% of the Green Label books in the HA archives have unwitnessed artist/creator signatures (Category 5 in the table provided above). CGC appears to treat books with unwitnessed signatures in the same manner that they treat books from recognized pedigrees that have the original owner’s name on the cover (Larson, Macon, Okajima, Winnipeg, etc). Since CGC does not offer a post-signing authentification/certification service (similar to what PSA/DNA offers for sports memorabilia), each buyer must decide for himself/herself how to value a book with a “qualified” signature relative to one with a “witnessed” signature and encapsulated in a Yellow Label Signature Series holder.

 

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Blue Label Equivalents for Category 6:

 

Less than 3% of the Green Label books in the HA archives have cover stickers or binder/binding holes (Category 6 in the table provided above). The 1939 edition of the New York World’s Fair comic is normally awarded a Blue Label, in spite of the price sticker on cover. Books with binder holes or books removed from bound volumes are rarely slabbed, so there are only a few Blue Label examples in the archives. However, several hundred three-hole punched file copies were among the thousands of books found at the Eastern Color Warehouse in the mid-1970s, and sales of raw specimens have occurred with regularity during the past 30+ years. Most reputable sellers assign grades of GD/VG to VG to otherwise pristine punched specimens from this find. Likewise, scores of bound volumes have sold at public auction over the years. Most reputable auction houses use the VG price of the individual issues to estimate the fair market value of a well-preserved bound volume. This is probably as good a starting point as any for establishing the “unqualified” value of an otherwise well-preserved single book that was once part of a bound volume.

 

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Blue Label Equivalents for Category 7:

 

Less than 2% of the Green Label books in the HA archives earned that status by virtue of a “common” defect, such as color chipping, a spine split, or a cover/page tear (Category 7 in the table provided above). The books in this particular category are all high grade (CGC 8.5 or better), and most are from pedigreed collections. However, the overwhelming majority of high grade submissions are encapsulated in Blue Label holders. So I’m at a loss to explain why a relatively small number of books were singled out for “special” treatment. Since CGC no longer lists significant defects on their Universal labels, self-evident Blue Label examples are difficult to come by. But here are a few from the early days of CGC:

 

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Even with clickable thumbnails, the presentation is quite image heavy. So please use discretion if you feel a need to quote a portion either post. Also, please remember that CGC’s grading and/or slab labeling standards have changed (and no doubt will continue to evolve) with time. Therefore, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

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That is a wonderfully helpful post. Thanks so much for taking the effort.

 

(thumbs u

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Great info!

 

Thanks :applause:

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Very cool - thanks for putting this together :applause:

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This is a great resource, thanks!

 

When did CGC stop putting interior defects on blue labels, and did they stop putting ANY defects on the blue label or do some still get listed?

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Category 7 is an interesting one. I wish that the CGC still did list significant (hidden) defects on the label (or, as has been talked about much in the past, on-line notes).

 

These would probably go a long way to helping people understand the vagaries of grading and provide some additional security when judging a book by its scan.

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Very educational, thank you for taking the time to post this information.

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That Savage Tales 1 CGC Q 9.8 is just stunning!

 

Green Label or not, I'd cherish that book.

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Thanks for the post. Well thought out. (thumbs u

 

I really wished CGC would get rid of the green label and just consider the defect in their grading - at least for books that are otherwise complete. I could see keeping GLODs for incompletes.

 

If not, then I wish that CGC would post both grades on the label. My book below falls into your category 2. I know I could have requested the grade to be considered when I subbed it and had it encapsulated in a universal holder (at least that is my understanding).

 

After receiving the book, I called and had one person at CGC tell me that it wouldn't grade over a 4.0 with the defect. (I do not think there were any other noted flaws). I guess a 4.0 is possible but I also have a blue label FY (Below) with the same defect as a 6.5. I may have wanted the Thrilling in a blue 6.5 but maybe not a 4.0.

 

So in my world, I'd like a couple of options:

 

1. CGC put both grades on the label, or

2. CGC give the subber the option during the grading process of which grade/label they want. Seems like that would be good customer service to contact the owner and ask them - may be an unviable option for CGC customer service, but it is a thought.

 

Thrilling42.jpg

 

700f418b.jpg

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Thanks, all. And thanks, telerites, for another good example.

 

I purposely avoided including personal opinions in my lead-off post. However, at this point, I’d like to say that I was quite surprised by many of the things I saw. Here are some examples of Blue Label books with a detached centerfold (the Aquaman #46), a blown staple, or a completely detached cover:

 

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th_B2-5.jpg th_B2-6.jpg th_B2-7.jpg th_B2-8.jpg th_B2-9.jpg th_B2-10.jpg

 

According to these examples, a pristine book with a detached centerfold can receive a Universal Grade as high as 9.4, a lightly worn book with a blown staple can grade as high as 9.0 to 9.4, and a book with a completely detached cover can grade as high as 4.0. WTF? In my world, a book that's essentially flawless aside from a blown staple has always been a FN/VF. No wonder I have so many repeat buyers!

 

doh!

 

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(thumbs u (thumbs u (thumbs u

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Thanks, all. And thanks, telerites, for another good example.

 

I purposely avoided including personal opinions in my lead-off post. However, at this point, I’d like to say that I was quite surprised by many of the things I saw. Here are some examples of Blue Label books with a detached centerfold (the Aquaman #46), a blown staple, or a completely detached cover:

 

th_B2-1.jpg th_B2-2.jpg th_B2-3.jpg th_B2-4.jpg

th_B2-5.jpg th_B2-6.jpg th_B2-7.jpg th_B2-8.jpg th_B2-9.jpg th_B2-10.jpg

 

According to these examples, a pristine book with a detached centerfold can receive a Universal Grade as high as 9.4, a lightly worn book with a blown staple can grade as high as 9.0 to 9.4, and a book with a completely detached cover can grade as high as 4.0. WTF? In my world, a book that's essentially flawless aside from a blown staple has always been a FN/VF. No wonder I have so many repeat buyers!

 

doh!

 

 

The Superman #172 and Aquaman #46 books above should be a QUALIFIED 9.2 and 9.4, respectively.

 

The key visual being that the defects on the label are described in ALL CAPS, which is only for Qualified defects.

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That Savage Tales 1 CGC Q 9.8 is just stunning!

 

Green Label or not, I'd cherish that book.

 

I was thinking the same thing, it's a real shame CGC decided to give it a green label because it has a unverified sig.

Edited by MastrCntrlProgram

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th_B2-1.jpg th_B2-10.jpg

The Superman #172 and Aquaman #46 books above should be a QUALIFIED 9.2 and 9.4, respectively. The key visual being that the defects on the label are described in ALL CAPS, which is only for Qualified defects.

(thumbs u (thumbs u

 

Thanks for chiming in, Bradley. This is an incredibly helpful contribution. I was not aware of the ALL CAPS convention (and I don’t believe the copy writers at Heritage were either, because both of these mislabeled books were touted as near-top copies, and the hammer prices were awfully strong for books that would garner Blue Label grades of 6.5 or 7.0). Your contribution explains a lot and brings CGCs treatment of detachment defects back in line with the benchmarks I’ve used for the past 30+ years. Because I want this thread to be as instructive and easy to follow as possible, I’m going to revise the Blue Label Equivalents for Category 2 section of my original post as follows:

 

th_B8-1.jpg th_B8-2.jpg th_B8-3.jpg th_B8-4.jpg th_B8-5.jpg th_B8-6.jpg

th_B8-7.jpg th_B8-8.jpg th_B8-9.jpg th_B8-10.jpg th_B8-11.jpg th_B8-12.jpg th_B8-13.jpg

 

On this basis, it appears that: a lightly worn book with a cover detached at a single staple will have a Universal Grade of 7.0 to 7.5; a book with a completely detached cover will have a Universal Grade of 4.0 or lower (depending on the severity of its other defects); a pristine book with a centerfold detached at a single staple will have a Universal Grade as high as 9.2 or 9.4; and a lightly worn book with a completely detached centerfold will have a Universal Grade of 6.5 to 7.0.

 

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Since I kind of started this recent discussion on Green Labels, with my question about unwitnessed sigs, I thank you very much for putting this whole thread together.

 

I would think they could put unwitnessed sigs in a blue label as well, just note that it was verified by a third party with a COA.

 

I suppose COA's can be forged though hm

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The Superman #172 and Aquaman #46 books above should be a QUALIFIED 9.2 and 9.4, respectively.

 

The key visual being that the defects on the label are described in ALL CAPS, which is only for Qualified defects.

Go call CGC and complain. Good luck with that!

 

Oh wait..... :blush:

 

 

:baiting:

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