CSG Sports Card Grading Scale

CSG uses a 10-point grading scale to evaluate sports cards. Below are CSG’s grading standards for each numeric grade as well as information on sub-grades, designations and autograph grades.

Numeric Grades

Perfect 10
A Perfect 10 is a card that has received the grade of Pristine 10 with all four sub-grades being 10. This “quad 10” is the best a card can be. It is flawless under 10x magnification in all four sub-grades.
Pristine 10
A Pristine 10 is a card that has received a 10 grade overall. Centering can measure 55/45 (no less than 9.5), but the other three sub-grades must be a 10. Corners will appear perfect to the naked eye and Gem Mint under 10x magnification. The surface is free of print spots and should also display perfect gloss, devoid of any surface flaws.
Gem Mint 9.5
A Gem Mint card is nearly flawless to the naked eye. Centering must be 50/50 one way and 55/45 the other. Corners must be Mint to the naked eye, but subtle wear is allowed under magnification. Edges must be original with only one minor flaw. A few extremely minor print spots that are detectable under magnification are allowed.
Mint 9
A Mint card will have four sharp corners with only minor wear visible. Centering must be 55/45 or better. Slight minor flaws on the edges may be visible. The surface must have all original gloss; however, a small number of specks or one minor spot or surface defect is allowed.
NM/Mint+ 8.5
A card graded 8.5 has relatively smooth edges with only minor touches of wear. It must have original color borders and gloss. One of the following very minor flaws is allowed: corners are sharp to the naked eye but reveal slight imperfections under magnification; a small amount of minor print spots; or subtle focus imperfections of the image. A very slight diamond cut is allowed.
NM/Mint 8
A card graded 8 must have 60/40 or better centering and relatively smooth edges with only minor touches of wear. It must have original color borders and gloss. One of the following very minor flaws is allowed: corners are sharp to the naked eye but reveal slight imperfections under magnification; a small amount of minor print spots; or subtle focus imperfections of the image. A very slight diamond cut is allowed.
Near Mint+ 7.5
At 7.5, 65/35 centering is allowed. A card graded 7.5 may also have a touch of wear on two or three corners or slightly rough edges. The image may be slightly out of register. A slight diamond cut is allowed, and very slight wax staining is allowed on the reverse.
Near Mint 7
At 7, centering is 70/30 or better. A card graded 7 may also have a touch of wear on three or more corners and/or slightly rough edges. The image may be slightly out of register. A slight diamond cut is allowed, and very slight wax staining is allowed on the reverse.
Ex/NM+ 6.5
For a grade of 6.5, no more than one slightly “dinged” corner is allowed, or no more than two of the following flaws: two or three fuzzy corners, slightly rough edges or noticeable print spots. A moderate diamond cut is allowed, and light wax staining on the front is acceptable.
Ex/NM 6
For a grade of 6, centering may be no worse than 75/25. No more than one “dinged” corner is allowed or no more than two of the following flaws: two or three fuzzy corners, slightly rough edges or noticeable print spots. A moderate diamond cut is allowed, and wax staining on the front is acceptable.
Excellent+ 5.5
At 5.5, the corners may exhibit light “fuzzyness” and very minor rounding. The corners may come to a point but may have one or two “dinged” corners. There may also be chipping on the edges, minor border discoloration, noticeable print spots and/or color or focus imperfections on surface.
Excellent 5
At 5, the corners may exhibit “fuzzyness” and very minor rounding. The corners may come to a point but may have two to three “dinged” corners. There may also be chipping on the edges, minor border discoloration, noticeable print spots and/or color or focus imperfections on surface. On cards with scratch-off surfaces, the coating may be removed, but the surface is not damaged.
VG/Ex+ 4.5
At 4.5, the corners may display slight rounding. Noticeable surface flaws may include scuffing, scratches or one light crease. While some original surface gloss may be visible, the borders may be off-white, and a small amount of minor staining is allowed. The centering is 85/15, and an extremely noticeable diamond cut is allowed.
VG/Ex 4
At 4, corners may display slight rounding. Noticeable surface flaws may include scuffing, scratches and one or more light crease. While some original surface gloss may be visible, borders may be off-white, and some minor staining is allowed. An extremely noticeable diamond cut is allowed.
Very Good+ 3.5
A Very Good Plus card may have 90/10 centering and four rounded corners, but not extreme rounding. The surface may exhibit one moderate crease or more than one light crease, and may also display scuffing or scratches and loss of original gloss. The edges may have moderate wear, and moderate staining of the stock can be visible.
Very Good 3
A Very Good card can have four rounded corners, but not extreme rounding. The surface may exhibit one moderate crease or more than one light crease, and may also display scuffing or scratches and loss of original gloss. The edges may have moderate wear, and heavier staining of the stock can be visible on both the front and back of the card.
Good+ 2.5
A card graded Good Plus may have heavier creasing, but the creasing does not travel across the surface from edge to edge. The card may also have some surface damage such as one small writing mark on the back. An extremely heavy diamond cut resulting in a near miscut is allowed.
Good 2
A card graded Good can have heavier creasing that may travel across the surface of the card from edge to edge. The card may also have some surface damage such as a small amount of writing on the front or back. An extremely heavy diamond cut resulting in a near miscut is allowed.
Fair 1.5
A Fair card can have one catastrophic flaw such as a staple hole, small area of missing surface, severe creasing and/or writing on the surface. The card may be miscut.
Poor 1
A Poor card may suffer from major surface damage such as severe creasing that breaks the surface, and/or it may be missing a small portion of the cardstock itself such as a portion of the corner that has been torn away from the card. The card will have multiple catastrophic flaws.

Sub-Grades

In addition to a card’s overall grade, CSG will assign sub-grades for Centering, Corners, Edges and Surface by request for an additional fee. The sub-grades will be determined based on the following criteria.

Centering
The registration of the card’s primary front and back designs within the frame of the cardstock as intended by the original design.
Corners
The visual and structural integrity of the corners of the card.
Edges
The visual and structural integrity of the edges of the card.
Surface
The visual and structural integrity of the surface of the card.

Designations

In certain circumstances, CSG will assign designations to cards based on authenticity and/or alterations.

Authentic
A submitter can request that CSG print “Authentic” in the grade box instead of a numeric grade as long as the card is authentic and not altered. The Authentic designation will also be used if a card is below the minimum size requirements.
Authentic Altered
CSG will print Authentic Altered in the grade box if a card is authentic but has been altered. Examples of alterations include recoloring and trimming.

Autograph Grades

Autographs are graded on a 5 to 10 scale with no half grades. Below are CSG’s Autograph grading standards.

10
A boldly signed autograph that appears near perfect to the naked eye. Under normal viewing, the signature is an aesthetically pleasing autograph. A light streak in the signature stroke is acceptable.
9
An autograph that is also pleasing to the eye but has a slight imperfection. Two light streaks are acceptable if they are the only imperfections. One of the following imperfections are allowed: minor splattering of the ink, very minor scratching in the ink or slight variance in the boldness of the signature. The signature may run off of the card and/or the sticker. Any very slight amounts of ink found in other places of the card such as spots of ink on the reverse are also allowed.
8
A signature that is solid and pleasing to the eye but may exhibit more noticeable defects that affect the aesthetics of the autograph such as light bleeding of one of the letters, a more evident skip in the signature, heavier streaking, visible yellowing or a signature that has begun to fade evenly or is lightly smeared. The signature may run off the card and/or sticker in more than one area.
7
Multiple flaws are evident such as noticeable yellowing throughout the signature, portions of smeared ink or even fading to the entire signature. Up to 20% of the signature may be missing, when referring to a sticker/cut autograph. A portion of the signature may run off the card or may bleed onto the edge in three or more areas.
6
The signature is still complete but heavy flaws are easily visible and highly distracting. These flaws include significantly smeared ink on multiple areas of the autograph, considerably heavy skipping or bleeding of the autograph or substantial yellowing or fading of the entire signature. Up to 35% of the signature may be missing, when referring to a sticker/cut autograph. Portions of the signature may run off the card or may bleed onto the edge.
5
Aging of the signature has become evident as it is no longer bold and exhibits heavy flaws that take away from the overall eye appeal. The entire signature is still visible to the naked eye, but it is subject to massive fading and yellowing, smeared ink or blemishes throughout that distract from the autograph. Up to 50% of the signature may be missing when referring to a sticker/cut autograph. Several letters of the signature may be missing entirely as they have run off the card or bled onto the edge.

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