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CONDITIONS/GRADING

The condition/grade that is assigned to a particular movie poster is based on the existence or lack thereof of certain blemishes that are commonly found on movie art.

Since movie art was designed as dispensable advertising materials, they were not handled like a "collectible." Many were stapled, taped, written on, hung in windows, and generally, just beaten around until they were discarded. It is amazing that any survived to make it to the collector's market. Unfortunately, many of the survivors bear the scars of their journey.

The most common blemishes/defects are as follows:

Assessing the condition of movie art is subjective and so unfortunately there are no "carved-in-stone" rules for grading the condition of posters. There are, however, three generally accepted "grading systems" that are used by most collectors/dealers to determine the condition of a movie poster. There is a fourth grading system that is used by auction houses. Because there are no set standards, grades can vary among the parties doing the assessing.

The main grading systems are as follows:

6- GRADE SYSTEM

MINT - A poster in MINT condition looks like it just came off of the press. It will have no blemishes or defects of any kind. It can be machine folded or rolled, depending on the manner in which it was originally. A poster in MINT condition commands top dollar in that title's normal price range.

NEAR MINT - A poster in NEAR MINT condition may have minor blemishes in the border only. The artwork is in excellent condition with no blemishes whatsoever. A poster in NEAR MINT condition commands slightly less than one in MINT condition.

VERY GOOD - A poster in VERY GOOD condition may have blemishes in the border and up to approximately one inch of the poster's artwork. There may be small tears in the artwork along the fold lines only. It may also have minor fading. A poster in VERY GOOD condition will command slightly less than one in NEAR MINT condition.

GOOD - A poster in GOOD condition may have tears or small holes that measure no larger than a quarter on the outer edges of the poster's artwork. Pieces of the border may be torn or missing; there may be mild bleed-through in the outer area of the artwork; there may be mild fading. In general, a poster in GOOD condition will have minor blemishes around the border and into the outer edges of the artwork. The major area of the artwork must be clear of any blemishes. The price of a poster in GOOD condition generally falls in the middle to lower end of the price range for that title.

FAIR - A poster in FAIR condition may have major blemishes that directly affect the artwork of the poster. The poster is recognizable and the artwork is primarily intact. The value of a poster in FAIR condition will weigh heavily on its title. If it is a rare piece, it still may command the lower end of the poster's normal price range. A poster in FAIR condition must be professionally restored.

POOR - Posters in POOR condition will have serious blemishes or in general, in such poor shape that even the slightest handling adds to the damage. The value of a poster in POOR condition will weigh heavily on its title. If it is a rare piece, it still may command the lower end of the poster's normal price range. A poster in POOR condition must be professionally restored.

9- GRADE SYSTEM

The 9-grade system is the most commonly used. The 9- grade system includes the same terms as the 6-grade system, with the addition of the three grades EXCELLENT, VERY FINE and FINE. These grades fit between the grades of NEAR MINT and VERY GOOD.

EXCELLENT - EXCELLENT condition is a term used in several ways by different dealers. The most common usage is a condition between VERY GOOD and NEAR MINT conditions on the six grade scale. Where some dealers will say VG+, other dealers will call it excellent condition. Beware! There are also a group of dealers that use the excellent condition phrase to mean anything from GOOD to NEAR MINT on the six grade scale. This is a very broad range or anything presentable. When someone is using the 'excellent condition' phrase, it may be wise to question a little more as to what is meant.

VERY FINE - VERY FINE condition is a term used by some dealers that describes a condition that is comparable to what dealers call VERY GOOD in the 6-grade system. This can be confusing since both systems use a VERY GOOD condition grade at different levels.

FINE - FINE condition is a term used by some dealers to describe a condition that normally falls between GOOD and VERY GOOD on the six grade scale. Other dealers will call the same condition G+ or VG-.

10-GRADE SYSTEM

The 10-grade system was introduced by Jon Warren and is patterned after other collectible hobbies, such as comic books. These fit in categories from C-1 to C-10


C10 - MINT - Item is "as new" or in the same condition as the day it was made. The item may or may not literally be in "perfect" condition, but it does exhibit an amazing state of preservation with virtually no perceptible flaws of any kind, other than very minor flaws that may have occurred during the printing process. Printing registration should be perfect. In many cases, an otherwise "mint" poster may have printing flaws in the registration, or alignment, of colors causing one color to stand slightly offset from the others. The folding/trimming process should not have resulted in any damage to the item of any kind. Sometimes a poster may have slight fold lines that occurred when the poster was put through the folding machine. If the fold line broke the ink, causing a faint white line, the item should not be grated C10. No edge fraying or dents/impressions are allows in this grade.

C9 - NEAR MINT - Superb. Unused or very carefully used, but with some minor storage defect, minor tear, one pinhole in each corner or some other very minor flaw on an otherwise unused poster. Item may be in "never-used" condition or may have been used in the theatre, but was carefully preserved after use. One tiny pinhole in each corner from being displayed is allowable in this grade. Slightly offset color registration is allowable in this grade. Very slight compression marks (indentations) from move theatre use (i.e. Clamped in a display) are allowable in this grade. No edge fraying. One Sheets, which were normally quarter-folded until recent times, may have very slight fold wear, if such wear does not significantly affect the eye appeal of the image. Folds haven't damaged print.

C8 - EXCELLENT - Commonly referred to as Condition A or Very Fine. Item may be in "never-used" condition or may have been used in the theater, but was carefully preserved after use. If a C9 is almost like new, then a C8 is not far behind a C9. An above-average poster exhibiting minimal signs of use. Bright and clean. Poster has no major defects but could have an accumulation of several minor ones, such as a small (1/8" or less) border chip. No creases on lobby cards, but normal/minor creases on one sheets and larger posters is to be expected. A handful of small pinholes or border tears could be present. Aging on older pieces could be present. Paper could be slightly yellowed, but not brown. Minimal or slight restoration could be present if professionally done. There may be signs of wear and use, such as folds or creases (except on lobby cards), possibly a minor border tear, or pinholes in the border. Not soiled; clean and bright. No frontal tape repairs are allowed in this grade, but possibly one very minor tape repair to the back of the piece. Window cards may have written or printed banners. The image area of the poster should be undamaged. Poster should be bright, supple, and clean. May exhibit more fold wear than a C9, but without significant color loss in the fold areas. A slight amount of color loss is acceptable in this grade, but if the fold wear is such that a heavy solid white line results from loss of color due to wear, then the item would not qualify for a C8 rating. No edge wrinkling or fraying is allowed in this grade. No tape is allowed in this grade. No writing on the front of the poster is allowed in this grade, however, writing on the back of the poster that DOES NOT BLEED THROUGH is acceptable in this grade. Minor tears are allowed in this grade, but they should be MINOR, meaning less than 1" in length, and not more than two total tears on the item. Common areas for tears on posters are at the folds, especially the interior folds where the item may have been unfolded and then refolded. This kind of minor paper separation (tear) is common and is allowable in a C8 grade notwithstanding other extenuating circumstances. Should the item have minor paper loss, such as a small piece missing from a corner or interior fold, it should not be given a C8 rating. A corner crease (1/2" or less) or two can be present, but numerous creases affecting the image are not allowed in this grade.

C7 - VERY GOOD to EXCELLENT - Often referred to as Fine condition. Still a very nicely preserved item. Typically, an item in this grade is almost a C8, but one or two unsightly flaws, or heavier than normal fold wear or pinholes, or one small piece of tape on a corner, cause the item to be assigned the C7 designation rather than C8. Heavy damp stains eliminate the item from this grade. However, a minor damp stain on an unobtrusive part of the poster could be allowed. A window card with the top 4 inch blank area trimmed away should not be rated higher than C7, even if in otherwise C9 condition.

C6 - VERY GOOD - Often referred to as "Very Good" condition or "Condition B." The typical used poster in average condition. A sound example, although with wear and defects to be expected of an item that was intended to be used and re-used. Unusual problems should be described. The poster can have slight browning of paper but not brittleness or flaking; it may also have a small amount of writing in some unobtrusive portion of the poster. Minor border repair, edge tears, stains, or other signs of average use could be present. Eye appeal of the image area should be good. Minor soiling could be present. Larger posters could have minor fold tears (length of which should be described); also normal folds, creases, minor fold tears, possible repaired tear (from the back). Professional major restoration is acceptable in this grade. The poster should be complete and if not, major problems should be described (such as paper replacement). In every case, paper replacement and major color touchup and restoration should be described in detail. Tape anywhere on the poster should be mentioned and described. Small pen markings on the front can be present if noted, but not if large, heavy, or if affecting the eye appeal of the image. Sun-fading on the poster should be described, and if significant, should prevent the example from being in this grade. Heavy insect or rodent damage is not allowable in this grade. Amateur color touchup with colored markers is allowable in this grade. Common flaws that relegate an item to this grade include heavy fold wear, unusually large number of pinholes or staple holes, taped corners or fold lines reinforced with tape, minor tears, possibly minor paper loss (pieces missing) from the edges, edge fraying and so on. Because posters were so often used and reused, the C6 grade is common.

C5 - GOOD to VERY GOOD - A heavily-worn item, showing significant signs of use such as multiple pinholes or staple holes, tape, tears, soiling, pieces missing, small markings or pen/pencil marks. Although this is an "in-between" grade and difficult to distinguish from a C6, items are relegated to this lower classification when there is a greater number of general flaws than would normally be expected in the higher grade, or when one major flaw makes the C6 grade unacceptable.

C4 - GOOD - Below average but still suitable for display. Heavily used, with significant signs of use that affect the overall eye appeal of the piece. Small pieces may be missing from the borders (should be described). Image area will usually have minor defects that may impinge upon the graphics. Could have tape, writing, or tears. Numerous pinholes and resulting tears could be present. Complete, but graphics are face-worn.

C3 - FAIR - Often referred to as Fair condition, or Condition D. Heavily worn, but yet still complete

C2 - POOR to FAIR - An extremely worn, possibly even incomplete item.

C1 - POOR - The lowest grade, representing items in the lowest possible condition. Heavily damaged, possibly missing large pieces, possibly brittle and crumbling. Except for valuable rarities, items in this grade have little or no value.

AUCTION HOUSES

In addition to the grading systems commonly used by collectors/dealers, the auction houses generally use their own alphabetical system.The following descriptions are used by most major auction houses:

For Unrestored Posters:

CONDITION A: OUTSTANDING - Posters have bright colors and are basically free from defects, but may have the tiniest of imperfections. Posters from before 1950 are almost never found in this condition.

CONDITION B: AVERAGE - Posters are in average used condition. They may have minor defects, including some of the following: clean tears, very slight paper loss, very minor stains, very slight fading, tape on the reverse that does not bleed through to the front.

CONDITION C: BELOW AVERAGE - Posters have significant defects, such as paper loss that extends into the artwork, significant fading or staining.

For Restored (Backed) Posters.

CONDITION A: OUTSTANDING - Posters were in excellent condition and had only the tinest of flaws that were corrected through restoration. Virtually no linenbacked posters are ever in this condition.

CONDITION B: AVERAGE - Posters have some restoration on the borders and folded areas, and very slight restoration in other areas.

CONDITION C: BELOW AVERAGE: Posters have significant overall restoration. It had major defects that required extensive restoration.

 



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