Grading and Valuation System
As with almost all collecting worlds, the condition of an item greatly effects it's value. In record collecting there is a standard Grading System and a related Valuation System. This section is a copy of that found in the back of Record Collector magazine and is a useful reference point.
|Mint||The record itself is in brand new condition with no surface marks or deterioration in sound quality. The cover and any extra items such as the lyric sheet, booklet or poster are in perfect condition. Records advertised as Sealed or Unplayed should be Mint.|
|Excellent||The record shows some signs of having been played, but there is very little lessening in sound quality. The cover and packaging might have slight wear and/or creasing.|
|Very Good||The record has obviously been played many times, but displays no major deterioration in sound quality, despite noticeable surface marks and the occasional light scratch. Normal wear and tear on the cover or extra items, without any major defects, is acceptable.|
|Good||The record has been played so much that the sound quality has noticeably deteriorated, perhaps with some distortion and mild scratches. The cover and contents suffer from folding, scuffing of edges, spine splits, discolouration etc.|
|Fair||The record is still just playable but has not been cared for properly and displays considerable surface noise; it may even jump. The cover and contents will be torn, stained and/or defaced.|
|Poor||The record will not play properly due to scratches, bad surface noise, etc. The cover and contents will be badly damaged or partly missing.|
|Bad||The record is unplayable or might even be broken, and is only of use as a collection-filler.|
As a general rule, CDs and cassettes either play perfectly - in which case they are in Mint condition - or they don't, in which case their value is minimal. Cassette tape is liable to deteriorate with age, even if it remains unplayed, so care should be taken when buying old tapes.
CDs are difficult to grade visually; they can look perfect but actually be faulty, while in other cases they may appear damaged but still play perfectly. Cassette and CD inlays and booklets should be graded in the same way as record covers and sleeves. In general, the plastic containers for cassettes and CDs can easily be replaced if they are broken or scratched, but card covers and digipaks are subject to the same wear as record sleeves.