A New Tipping Point?

On May 23, CGC announced a new class of labels. Starting next month CGC will introduce the Conservation Label and at the same time expand the Purple Label into five tiers. We’ll now have:

1. Slight
2. Slight/Moderate
3. Moderate
4. Moderate/Extensive
5. Extensive

To further complicate things, there will also be an A, B or C designation to identify the quality of restoration, i.e.; from amateur to professional with a number to indicate the quantity or the amount of restoration done to the book. So, we’ll soon be seeing certification labels that read like this:

Avengers #55
Apparent: 9.6
Slight/Moderate: A-2



The Conservation Label will differentiate repairs done to a book with the intent to preserve as opposed to repairs done to enhance eye appeal.

I’m all for transparency and more information but is the certification system becoming too complex, especially for novice collectors? In their attempt to clarify, I find it actually has the opposite effect and adds to the confusion (or is it just me resisting change)? Personally, I think all labels should be Blue with all pertinent information listed on the label. This way, the buyer can decide what he or she finds acceptable. At one point in comics history, restored books used to be more valuable than non restored books but something happened along the way and the scale has tilted. I guess this is what Malcolm Gladwell would refer to as The Tipping Point.

I have no idea how the market will react to this expanded system, but it definitely will be interesting to watch. I assume that CGC is hoping that some collectors will re-submit their books to be re-slabbed so that they can get “mo’ chedd-ah”, but will it be worth the effort for the collector? For the most part, a Purple Label is a Purple Label but if a Blue Label with a Purple Stripe starts fetching a premium, you may want to dig through your box of CGC books and pick out the Slight to Moderately restored books for possible re-submission.

You can read more about it here and feel free to share your thoughts below. Is this a good thing, bad thing or… meh.

Charlie Kim
Charlie Kim

Charlie Kim is a designer who is currently transitioning into teaching. While working for various companies, he helped develop many international brands such as the Hong Kong Airport identity, Lenovo’s sponsorship program for the Beijing Olympics and Lavasa, a new city being developed in India. Locally, he's also worked on the 1998 campaign for the Canadian Opera Company, the Canadian Innovations stamp for Canada Post and the terrible Grand & Toy re-brand (hey, they can't all be winners). Charlie’s love affair with art and design all began with comics.

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  1. it’s not confusing at all. quite the opposite, this is a far better system than the current on in place. far more clarity.

  2. Hey Nestor, any thoughts on how a “signed” conservation label should be represented? What happens if a book has a combination of conservation techniques with some colour touch… that’s been signed?

  3. I’ve noticed a few buyers paying higher for Slight Restoration especially if the book has a chance of being “unrestored”.

    Buy that 7.0 Purple label AF #15 with tear seals and slight color touch, then send it off to a restoration outfit to scrape the color off and rip the seals open.

    Resubmit and get a 4.5 Blue!

    What I’m asking I guess is – will this system make it easier for this type of thing to happen?

    Perhaps another category could be “This book can be Unrestored”.

    Still, restored books should not all be valued equally so this is good for the collector I guess though it is CGC that is defining the limits of range.

  4. There are people out there that seek out “unrestorable” books. I’ve had a few books “unrestored” myself and did okay with them. However, it’s a risk and takes time.

    An eBay seller who goes by the handle “all_things_comics” trims all his books and lists them as high grade. As you can imagine, if you took a nice looking mid grade with minimal spine wear and trimmed the 3 edges… suddenly it can look like a 9.6. Depending on the book, a high grade 9.6 restored can fetch a lot more then an 6.0 Blue Label. Personally, I don’t like this practice… The seller fully discloses that the edges have been trimmed but it feels wrong to me.

    What I find interesting about this new system is the greater context. It’s inline with their purchase of Matt Nelson’s Classics Incorporated and their move to start charging for notes. Yes, we all know that they are trying to make more money, and we also know that their business is finite. So the question is: why now? Have they reached a “tipping point” where most of the books worth grading have been graded? Is their business slowing so they need to find other ways to augment their revenue stream? If they are unsuccessful, what does this mean for their business and our books? Do books graded by the now defunct ACE or 3PG have any added value? Should PGX and the newly formed VAULT both follow suit? Like I said, it will be interesting to watch it all unfold.

  5. a book that has colour touch up, would get a RESTORATION label, listing the work done on the book, and if it was signed, i’m sure they’d have a line that authenticates the signature.

    Conservation label should not include any colour touch ups.

  6. i have a small collection of comic books. maybe, 5% have been graded. and that’s because most have been already graded when i bought them. i’ve been too lazy to send off books. i’ve been slowly cataloguing them over the past few months. i’m sure i could pick up 100 books to send of to get graded today. and i have a very small collection compared to most

  7. i agree Walt. there is a difference between extensive conservation, extensive colour touch ups, re-glossing etc etc…
    i’m sure sure of the economics of getting something, then “unrestoring”

    ie, what’s a purple 7.0 AF 15 worth, add the cost of unrestoring, then have a blue 4.5? i’ve got no idea.

  8. I believe a CGC 7.0 restored AF #15 goes for about 7K while a 4.5 unrestored goes for over 10K but that is just one example.

    So if I had a book and knew that if I trimmed it I would make more money on the market I guess I would do it, full disclosure of course. Why not? If it is what the market wants…

    How are the backlogs at CGC? I’d always imagined you could tell how they are doing by the tier backlogs.

    Interesting indeed.

  9. At this point in time I find it confusing.Th eonly thing that I see for sure that will come out of this is more resubmissions to CGC and therefore more money. We all know how much of a discrepancy there can be in grading now, this is going to muddy up the waters even more.

  10. hey charlie, i also caught that same ebay listings! after over 50 years in this field, i will not touch trimmed books, the ugliest of all defects!!

  11. He’s a shrewd seller. His pictures are just big enough so that people wont complain but the image of the actual book itself is small. Slightly blurry to hide details but sharp enough for most people who do not have a trained eye to notice the softness. He claims all his books are high grade but the way he words it absolves him of any serious responsibility. Such precision is to be admired.

    Walter asks why not? Because a trimmed book is permanent. If you really love comics you would respect and want to preserve the things you adore. Many flippers claim to enjoy comics but I submit to you that they love the game of flipping more. There’s a couple guys who come over regularly to buy/sell/trade but they don’t actually hold a collection of their own. They will beat you down on price then turn around and eat your lunch. All’s fair if you are open and transparent… and to be honest, I was able to get rid of some junk books through these guy so I can’t complain since they serve a purpose. But, the purest in me wishes that they had a bit more reverence.

    Trimming is not an act of care. It’s a business decision. There is nothing wrong with this but I can’t help feel melancholy about it. And this pretty much sums up why I’m so poor.

  12. As someone who works developing visual systems, I can tell you that CGC’s system does not work. Nestor says they’ll come up with something. I’m sure they will… but nothing that logically fits into the system they’ve created. The learning curve for us, who are already familiar with CGC, is small… But can you imagine the novice collector who decides he or she wants to invest in comics? The wolves are hungry my friend and novice collectors are so plump and juicy…

  13. charlie, there are individuals out there and will not name them that got us to this mess of frenzied flipping toward highest graded paper and ink, one such individual sold off his hoard months ago thru heritage. legal yes, but highly manipulative indeed. yes a monopoly and maybe this new steve borack a aenterprise will begin to reverse this insanity! but im also cynically aware that his backers/handlers are big money interests.

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