Watch Your Thumbs!

Posted on 2/10/2002

Among the many advantages of seeing the thousands of books submitted to CGC, is that you start to spot trends and patterns in the condition of books.

We’ve all been doing it for years... when you remove a book with a backing board from its mylar sleeve or put it back in, you place your thumb at the top middle of the book to hold it in place on the board as you slide the book in or out.

Problem: As this process is repeated over and over again, damage is developing in the top center area of the cover of books. Look at the close-up picture and you’ll see the developing thumb mark on this book caused by the repetitive stress of gripping the book at the same place many times.

From a grading standpoint we consider thumb damage just as we would other types of stress damage such as staple pulls, stress marks, creases, and fingerprints, which when taken together can significantly effect a book’s final CGC grade.

With care, this kind of damage can be avoided. When removing or replacing books, hold them gently. Let the weight of the book cause it to slide into the sleeve instead of you shoving it in. Avoid wiggling the book as you’re inserting it. Be sure your hands are clean and cool before handling books. Avoid mylars that are overly tight for the size of your book. And, consider not allowing anyone to handle your books that you don’t know as a careful hobbyist and that you trust implicitly! The damage we’ve seen is across Gold, Silver, Bronze and Modern age books, some of them extremely valuable copies where this type of damage can mean a difference of a grading point.

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