Standard & Qualified Grading Scales
Our Standard and Qualified grading scales consist of grades ranging from 10 to
100 which serve to rate an item’s 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:
The VGA Gold level consists of the grades 100, 95+, 95, 90+, 90, and 85+. When an item’s 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 item’s 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.
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
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
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.
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.).
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
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.