Since the beginning of Comics Price Guide in the mid-90s we set the default comic grade at 9.4.  The thought process was that the average comic purchased off the shelf would be a 9.4.  Industry leaders, comic shop owners, and staff agreed with this assessment.  At the time we thought this was a good starting point for collectors.  

Over the years we have learned that a majority of members use our default grade when entering their collection.  We have given collectors the ability to change the grade of their comic to the specific grade they own, but they didn’t.  If you only collect 90s to current, your collection value is close to the default grade.  No problem.  If your collection includes older books, this greatly skews the value as the book gets older.  A Golden Age Captain America in 9.4 is shockingly rare and rightfully expensive.  A Modern Age Captain America in 9.4 is easy to find and most likely cover price.  That disparity sparked the changes that you will soon see. 

Now, we know that the average grade for older books needs to change but to what grade?  What is the average grade for a comic from 1954?  Or any other year?  It was clear, that our mission was to determine the default grade for every year dating back to the beginning.  We enlisted industry experts, online comic shop sales, and eBay averages by year to determine default grades.  For eBay, we only used their data back to 1957 since their sales dropped significantly for Golden Age books.  

As expected, the default grades do not follow the comic ages.  In the late 60’s and early 70’s, the perception of comic books changed from disposable entertainment to a collectible.  This mindset shift caused the average grade to improve from 5.5 to 7.5.  There were paper and ink changes in the ’80s which dramatically changed comic book quality.  (We still miss you newsprint comics)  In that timeframe, you see major quality improvements and the default grade rises again.  When comic production ramped up in late 1990 and early 1991 you see another major jump in quality.  

 

After looking at 3.4 million data points we have determined what best represents the average comic grade from 1930 to the present.

Start Year End Year Default Grade
1930 1939 3.5
1940 1945 4.0
1946 1964 4.5
1965 1967 5.5
1968 1972 6.5
1973 1976 7.5
1977 1981 8.0
1982 1990 8.5
1991 2024 9.4

 

Please join CPG today to enjoy the benefits of our research. 

by Ron Cloer

 

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