NostoNews, December 1, 2004
by Tommy Jasmin

Beware of grade goggles

We've had quite a few people write in lately marveling at how much their Nosto collections are worth. Just as many dispute the values, saying things like "How can my Mint Wolverine 1 (1982 mini-series) be worth the $258.00 you claim? My local dealer says it's worth nowhere near that."

The big question here is "what is the real grade?" Most likely, this user had their grade goggles on when they tagged this book MT 10.0. For some reason, most collectors don't seem to understand what a perfect grade (10.0 for comics, 70 for coins) really means.

Is it possible?

First, is an MT 10.0 Wolverine 1 even possible? Yes, it is. The current CGC Census reports only one copy has been graded such out of 2,573 copies submitted to date. The current Nostomania Census shows nine collectors claim to own MT 10.0 copies. Unfortunately, it's very likely many of these Nosto users have assigned the wrong grade. They either truly believe their copy is a flawless Mint, or they just don't understand grading.

Either way, it's tough to fault the users too much; accurate grading is a skill that takes years of experience to develop. At the same time, when determining the value of an item, assigning an accurate grade is extremely important.

Is it really that valuable?

If you truly think you have an item of exceptional grade, the best way to validate your belief is to send it in for professional grading. If it turns out you are correct, yes, you could be able to fetch the big bucks Nosto shows at the top. Nosto sales history data (available to Nosto Premium Account subscribers, and to new Basic Account subscribers for a trial period) supports this. Checking the Wolverine 1, we see recent sales as high as $345.00 for a CGC graded NM/MT 9.8 - two grades shy of perfect.

Perfect is more likely for coins

For coins, especially modern coins, it is much easier to obtain a "perfect" (PF-70 or MS-70) coin. The reason? Sheer numbers and high production quality. The U.S. Mint has made at least 400 million of each statehood quarter. In these cases, a perfect grade will still bring a premium price, but the price will drop off dramatically as the grade drops even a few notches to 69 or 68. So correctly determining the grade becomes even more important. Again, using a service like Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is the best way to "prove" the grade. You won't find coins at these grades in pocket change.

Look at the 2002-P Ohio Statehood Quarter as an example. The Nosto value in MS-69 is $315.00, but plummets to $21.00 with only one drop in grade to MS-68. Again, the Nosto sales history data supports (and in fact drives) our computed values.

Collectors beware

The lesson? Don't set yourself up for disappointment. The Nosto user who claims to have a MT 10.0 Amazing Spider-Man 13 in their collection might be crushed when they decide to sell it. They may find that instead of the $42,600.00 we show for that grade, they pull in around $500.00. But what if it really were MT 10.0? In that case, I have no doubt this user would very likely fetch our theoretical computed value (since there are obviously no sales data to support it) of $42,600.00. However, it is very likely this item does not exist in this condition. It may cause some pain now to see the total value of your collection drop, but you will be much happier later when you sell your items if you'd just put those grade goggles away.


Don't forget, all you have to do is create a single Collection, Wantlist, or Salelist item during the appropriate month to qualify for our sweepstakes. Why not take a look and see what we're giving away (and gave away last month), free as always.

Thanks, we'll see you all next month.

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