Goldmine Grading Guidelines

Goldmine Record Grading Guidelines
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  Goldmine grading guidelines[19-Jan-13 19:06:21] INFORMATION SOURCE: GOLDMINE MAGAZINEIn Composing this Q & A, the following people have participated with vital information....Susan Murray (NOD International Records)cyteen@ix.netcom.comFred Walker (Vinylonly) vinylonly@aol.comPaula Major (Paula's House of Music) (Paula),Copyright 1996 by Weldon T. Toms & Goldmine (1974?) Any additional insight can be forwarded to Tim at for future updates if needed. Grades listed will not be altered or modified. The following gradesdefined are those as listed with Goldmine magazine.This is not to say that other grading systems are not viable. This is the most mainstream system used as compared toothers that are not. It is to be used only as a reference but to keep in mind, that when grading, anyone can choosealternative means to grading records, as long as they can define the terms the use without confusion.FAQ: Compiled August 16th, 1996========================================================Goldmine Grading System Defined:Questions & Answers========================================================Questions in this section:Q1: What is the Goldmine Grading System ?Q2: How can I grade my own vinyl based on these grades?========================================================Answers:Q1: What is the Goldmine Grading System ?A1: The Goldmine Grading System was 1st created in the early years of record collecting. These grades wereestablished from various other resources pertaining to collecting (for example coin, book, comics, and card collecting)Goldmine Magazine first published a grading scale in 1974.It has undergone changes through out the years, yet has for the most part remained the same. Remember!  Two people may not come up with the same grade for the same record. One person may feel a record isMINT and another may say NM (Near Mint). After reading the next part of this answer, perhaps you will be able toidentify each grade with out too much confusion, and allow yourself to grade more conservatively (fairly).Grade Scale with definitions of each grade: ==================================================Q2: How can I grade my own vinyl based on these grades?A2: Below is the grade scale and what you should look for when assessing a grade for each record you have.-------------------------------------------------------------- MINT or M : Perfect! A mint record should look like it has just left the manufacturer, with NO flaws what so ever. Itshould look as though it had never been handled. No scuffs or scratches, blotches or stains. No stickers address labels,writing on the covers or labels. No tears or seam splits. No wear to the cover or record period! Age of the record hasnothing to do with it. A MINT record from 1949 should look like a MINT record from 1996.  Goldmine grading guidelines[19-Jan-13 19:06:21]  The number one complaint from collectors about grading over the years, have been the deteriorating standards thatdealers and private sellers have had when grading. It is only natural for most people to turn to the MINT grade and read highest prices listed in price guides. Since most price guides have a high and low price range, the assumed grade most often is NOT mint, but near mint (NM). MINT COVERS: Simply put, a mint cover should appear to havenever had a record inside it. No wear to the corners or any marring on the face or back of the cover. EP jackets and 45single picture sleeves also apply to this rule. The record inside can cause an impression (rounded shape in the face of the cover/sleeve) Many dealers or sellers feel that the artwork (the ink) has to be worn or starting to rub off, beforethere is any ring wear. NOPE!! Mint means perfect and nothing else!SPECIAL NOTE:  It has been brought to my attention that because stickers may involve promo and special track listings that were applied from the factory, it is still not a standard practice. Promo stickers and large white programming labels (on the bottom of the covers) are considered a turn off. Therefore even these stickers would lower the grade from a MINT status to perhaps only EX. For stickers that show special announcements, such as Featuringthe hit song...etc , were not applied to all the commercial releases. Some earlier copies may not have the sticker sincethe song in question had not even charted yet. It was to advertise the whole LP and draw attention to the buyer. Somestickers are worth money! That means they actually have value. Most companies applied the stickers to the shrinkwrapand thus, one should save these items, but if applied to the covers, lower the covers grade. If you wish to place valueon the sticker (most are anywhere from 50 cents to $2.00) then do so but make mention of the sticker being on thecover to potential buyers! MINT VINYL : This should be very simple to define. A mint record should look perfect, as described earlier. Anydefect from the factory pressing, such as bubbles or pits in the vinyl are not acceptable! Even if they do not cause any problem when played. It should, as we said, be a perfect pressing. Records often were packaged by hand and thesimple placing of the record into a paper sleeve can caused minor scuffs. Probably very insignificant, but they areflaws as never the less. For this reason, it is impossible to call a sealed record mint, thus any sealed record that is sold,should be sold only with the guarantee that it is assumed to be un-played. Sealed records have sold for more than thehigh end of price guides. If you are selling sealed records, be advised that many collectors shy away from them. Asight unseen record is hard to sell. A sealed record is even harder to sell.----------------------------------------------------------- NEAR MINT or NM : Sometimes dealers use M- (Mint Minus) grade. You may need to ask the dealer if he/she uses the M- grade the same way as NM. They should mean the same thinghowever many people have had used several confusing grades all based around the Mint status. We define NM and or M- as being almost mint. This grade should be, for the most part, the most widely used grade for records that appear virtually flawless. Virtually flawless records are not perfect. A very minor scuff and very little else can appear on thevinyl. This will most likely have occurred during packaging, or removing the record from the inner sleeve but had beenhandled with extreme care. It should play without any noise over the flaw. The flaw should be very hard to see. If ascuff covers more than a few tracks yet can be seen, it will not be NM, however it may come very close. Use strong judgment when evaluating the vinyls condition. NEAR MINT COVERS : The cover should look as close to perfect with only minor signs of wear and or age. Minor impressions to the cover (due to the outer edge of the vinyl resting inside) may be acceptable, however the artwork should be as close to perfect as can be.-------------------------------------------------------------- EXCELLENT or EX or VG++ : This is truly NOT Goldmine defined grade, however it is becoming more and moremainstream among collectors and sellers. It is also a very conservative grade for those who don't want to grade NM,for fear they may over grade the record and cover. In which case it is very acceptable yet should not command thehighest price based on NM value. Only NM records or better are considered collectable and WILL command topdollar. Anything less, the prices drop dramatically. However many very rare (collectable) items can command veryclose to NM value, simply because NM copies may not even exist. This will be explained under a different topic...FAQ: How to value your collection based on grade (future updates forthcoming)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- EX VINYL : An excellent ( EX or VG++ ) condition for vinyl will allow minor scuffs which are visible but only  Goldmine grading guidelines[19-Jan-13 19:06:21] slightly. There may be more than a few, so be careful not call a record that has wear to more than 15% of the surface.The wear should be minimal and of course should play mint! Any scratches that can be felt with your fingernail can NOT be called scuffs. Scuffs lay on top of the grooves. If any break in the grooves are felt, they ARE scratches. And most often, they will be heard when played (soft clicks or even loud pops). Once again, no scratches can make thisgrade! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- EX COVER : Artwork should still be as close to perfect as can be. Some impression to the cover (minor outer ringwear) but no ink wear! Some slight creases to the corners, but not wrinkled and obtrusive to the eye. The corners canshow white (where the artwork pasted slick was) meaning, slight wear. No seam splits or writing on the cover or taped repairs can make this grade. If you don't think a cover is NM than call it EX or less. There will be obvious reactions tothe EX grade. But if you use a EX grade and price a bit lower, your risk of over grade will be reduced dramatically.You will also make more people happy, rather than trying to call it NM.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VERY GOOD PLUS or VG+ : What does this mean? Some people will call a less than NM record VG+ and skip theEX grade. Goldmine defines it as Excellent (EX), yet commands only 50% of the value (for most records). It caneasily be defined as 2 ways. VG+ should be the next grade below a NM value when grading 45 singles. EX can beused for EP's. 45 singles have only 2 songs and EP's (7 by the way) can have anywhere from 3, 4, 6 and 8 (rarelyfound) songs on the record. With 45 singles one side may be NM and the other side may not. If the flip side is not NM but still plays well (or great, no noise), VG+ is a conservative grade. Very few 45's should be called EX unless theyare of rarities. Use careful judgment when buying and selling them with this grade! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VG+ VINYL : Now for LP's (the big ones <G>). VG+ will show wear, surface scuffs,(or spiral scuffs that came fromturn table platters or jukeboxes for 45 singles) and some very light scratches. Surface scuffs are caused from blunt (notsharp) objects. Often the minor scuffs are caused from inner sleeves. The vinyl should still have a great luster, but theflaws will be noticeable to the naked eye. Sometimes holding the record up to a very bright light, you will see manytiny lines across the surface. If the flaws don't cause any surface noise, the vinyl can make the VG+ grade. Most (butnot all) VG+ records should still play like a NM record. But because the vinyl has more than 15% (yet less than 30%)wear to the surface, it can make this grade. Remember, the record still should look as though it was handled withextreme care. Sometimes people find records that have no scuffs that are visible, yet a careless needle scratch causes a break in the grooves. Play the record. If there is any obtrusive clicks or pops, which cause the the song to be less thanenjoyable, it may not even be VG+! Scratches are not acceptable to a serious collector in any way. If you call a record 95% NM but note the record as having 1 track with a bad scratch, many will only consider it as VG (explained next).You should seldom call a record A Strong VG, plays mostly VG+ . It does not explain the overall condition wellenough. Use this very cautiously when grading. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VG+ COVERS : Now that we defined the EX grade, a few extra flaws will make this grade. A virtually clean cover, but may have small writing on it. (Magic marker in big letters will not cut it. They are an eyesoar, so be weary of over grading). The artwork should look clean with slightly more aging. The back of the cover usually gives away the age of the cover. Flat white paper will be somewhat yellow yet no stains or mildew from water damage. Some minor wear to the seams or spine, but no tears or holes popping through. The corners will be slightlydog eared yet no crackly bends, defacing the artwork. In essence, a VG+ cover should have no more than 3 flawsmentioned. If all apply, it is less than VG+. (see next grade below)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ VERY GOOD or VG:  The Very Good Grade does not mean Very good at all. At least not in the visual sense. A VeryGood (VG) record will appear well played but still have some luster. The vinyl may be faded, slightly grayish, yetappears to have been handled as carefully as it could have been helped. Records that get continuous playing time willstart to deteriorate. More and more surface scuffs and scratches, and audible sound defects WILL be heard. Theyshould not overpower the dynamics of the music. With VG records, the surface noise will be minor crackle or a slighthiss, but should only be heard in between tracks or in low musical passages. IMPORTANT NOTE:  With Jazz and Classical recordings, the music can become very low to the point where nomusic is even heard. If any crackle, tics, clicks or pops are heard, these records will have very little value to a seriouscollector! Classical and Jazz is seldom wanted if they are in less than VG+ condition. It is wise to play these records(as should all records) when evaluating grades. Some classical records may look VG+ or even NM, however play less  Goldmine grading guidelines[19-Jan-13 19:06:21] than than perfect. Beware of over grading these. They are difficult to grade and conservative grading is a must withthem. Also equally as important. Most dealers truly will not have a lot of time playing every single LP they sell. It justis impossible. However when records have questionable flaws, the record should be tested at least where the flawoccurs in the playing surface. Visually noting the flaw may not be good enough. If the record skips, you will havemade a mistake and the value would thus be less.------------------------------------------------------------------ VG COVERS : VG covers will look worn, used. There may be some seam splitting (but not completely separated!).There will be some ring wear, where the ink has begun to wear off. Giving the cover a look of snow falling. If theartwork looks snowy all over, it is less than VG condition. There may be some writing on the cover (still not LARGEletters in Magic Marker).It will look aged, and more yellowish due to contaminations in the air (sometimes looking like cigarette smoke). Still itshould be decent. If damaged beyond any formable beauty, it will not make this grade. VG should at least still havesome attractive life to it, and not have taped seams or water damage to it. If you decide to tape repair a cover, to prevent further damage, use clear scotch tape and place it on so that it is not obtrusive to the eye. If only a small split,only tape the split. Don't run tape across the entire spine or seams. Too much tape means too little interest. Use as littleas possible. If the split is minor, it is best to just leave it alone. Note the flaw and go from there with the grade.------------------------------------------------------------------------ GOOD or G (including the G+ and VG- grades) : A good record will look very well played, dull, grayish and  possibly abused. However a Good record should still play. It will have distracting surface noise. Such as crackle that iscontinuous or some hiss. Will also have some loss of dynamics caused from grooves being worn. It should playwithout any skips or any obtrusively loud pops or repeated clicks, caused by deep scratches. If you can't enjoy therecord, it is not no longer even good. Good means that it will play with some form of decency, so one can still enjoythe music even though you can still hear noise caused from the wear. NOTE: Rock and Roll records generally play loud. G condition records for them will be the most likely thing that willstill sell well. Jazz and Classical and easy listening in G condition are almost worthless to a collector, since themusical passages often get very low and surface noise is too distracting to the listener. Also check on 45 singles for thelength of time. Records that play longer than 3 minutes, may not be as dynamic and thus any where will be heard morethan the music (overpower the dynamics). Use conservative judgment when grading these types of singles.-------------------------------------------------------------------- GOOD COVER : a Good cover will have just about everything wrong with it. It will have seam splits (possibly taped repaired, but only with scotch tape. No duct tape or masking tape repairs. these are big turn offs. May have magicmarker writing on the cover but still if they are in huge letters, it is a big turn off. In essence, the cover will looked trashed, but some artwork will still be noticed. If the artwork is worn, it is POOR and the cover is worthless. Hugetears or gouges in the cover will also make the cover POOR. Be careful about sealed records, that have been water damaged. Mildew still can get inside and cause great damage to the cover, and the disc. Use common sense and youwill save yourself from an over grade. NOTE:Sealed records that have water damage should be opened. Otherwise youwill be in trouble later on when the cardboard starts to deteriorate inside the shrinkwrap. Attempt to dry the coversusing a hair dryer (be sure to remove the record first!)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- G+ and VG-: This is separate from the above. Many records that appear in VG condition often play less than verygood. Goldmine defines them as better than Good, but less than Very Good. The value should not increase more thanthe value of a Good record. Meaning they all should be priced somewhere within the same guideline (most often it is10 to 15% for Good, and only 15% for Good Plus (G+) and Very Good Minus (VG-) . With a G+ record, it will look  just as the described condition for Good, yet may play better than it looks. Dynamics for are usually good enough tooverpower the surface noise. Same for VG-, However VG- and G+ are of the same value. It is more of a visually and audible combined grade. There should be no large price increase for these records. Price them like G records and youshould not have a problem. --------------------------------------------------------------------- FAIR, & POOR : The easiest way to define this is if does not meet the lowest grade above (GOOD), it is trash. It isworthless. Unless it is so rare, it won't sale worthy at all. It is ok to throw them away or give them to someone who justwants to have them. It won't be playable for the most part, and so they are not much good hanging onto them. Veryfew poor records are collectable. Some rare colored vinyl or picture discs are ok, and can still be nice to have, but theywon't be good enough to play again.


Jul 23, 2017
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