Autograph Grading Criteria

Autograph grades are determined using a grading scale of 1-10, with 10 being best, and are established based upon the quality of the signature as part of the autograph grading guide.

10: Gem Mint. 

A Gem Mint 10 autograph is a virtually perfect autograph. Attributes include bold writing with the absence of skipping or retracing by the original signer or otherwise. In addition, the autograph must be strong and clear for that particular signer. For example, if an autograph is bold but seems rushed or slightly uncharacteristic in formation (though genuine) it may not receive a Gem Mint 10 grade. A Gem Mint 10 autograph must not only be aesthetically beautiful in terms of placement but it must also be representative of the common/traditional autograph patterns of that person.

9: Mint.

A Mint 9 is a superb condition autograph that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws: A very light skip (almost unrecognizable to the naked eye), a slight acceptable variance in boldness of the autograph (still very bold and clearly readable - even at arms length - but perhaps not quite as bold as an autograph that would qualify for a Gem Mint 10) or a some other aesthetic issue such as undesirable location if the location of the autograph hinders the eye appeal of the autograph, slightly, in some way.

8: Near Mint. 

A Near Mint 8 is a super high-end autograph that may appear to qualify as a Mint 9 at first glance but upon closer inspection, the autograph may exhibit one or more of the following: A slightly more noticeable skip in the autograph (though still very minor in nature) slightly inferior boldness of the autograph or very slight fading (the autograph must still be completely legible and intact), or some other aesthetic issue such as undesirable location if the location of the autograph hinders the eye appeal of the autograph, slightly, in some way. For example, a very light bleed on one of the letters may be acceptable if minor or some very minor unevenness to the signature if the uneven nature of the autograph is limited to a small area - no greater than approximately 20% of the signature. A very light retrace, by the original signer, may be acceptable.

7: Very Good. 

A Very Good 7 is a very strong autograph that may suffer from one or more of the following: The signature, while still entirely visible to the naked eye, may exhibit some minor degree of even fading to the entire signature. A minor blemish or the existence of wear on the actual autograph may be acceptable within the VG 7 grade. Slightly more significant skipping or bleeding may be present, however, still insignificant to the overall presentation. Any other aesthetic flaw that may hinder the eye appeal may be allowable. For example, an autograph that extends more noticeably into an undesirable area of a photo such as a darkened background. In addition, a very slight retrace, by the original signer, may be acceptable.

6: Excellent-Mint. 

A 6 is a very presentable autograph that may suffer from one or more of the following: The signature, though entirely legible to the naked eye, may exhibit some degree of even fading to the entire signature - more so than would be acceptable for a VG 7. A minor blemish to one of more of the letters may be acceptable if the balance of the autograph is considerably strong for the grade. Slightly more advanced degrees of skipping or bleeding may be present in comparison to the allowable tolerance for a VG 7. In addition, a very slight retrace, by the original signer, may be acceptable. The location of the autograph may also be a more significant issue within this grade if the display quality is hindered in a more dramatic way.

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Disclaimer

Due to the inherent problems associated with autograph preservation, CAG cannot guarantee the assigned grade for the life of the item. As many collectors know, deterioration of autographs, such as fading, etc., may occur over time through handling and exposure. In some cases, the mere aging process may take hold and inflict condition problems on the autograph. Sometimes, the damage to the condition of an autograph may be visibly delayed and, for his reason, CAG cannot guarantee the grade for life.

CAG can guarantee the grade of the item at the time of the authentication and, with the help of the image detailed on the letter and proper storage methods, your item can be preserved in such a way that will enable the CAG grade to live concurrently with the item. With the proper precautions, the vast majority of autographs can be preserved in their respective/current condition.