Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Record & Book Grading Guides

Records are visually graded in most cases.

Goldmine Grading Guide © Goldmine Magazine.

Mint (M): Absolutely perfect in every way -- certainly never played, possibly even still sealed.
Near Mint (NM or M-): A nearly perfect record, showing no obvious sign of wear. A 45 rpm sleeve has no more than the most minor defects, such as almost invisible ring wear or other signs of slight handling. An LP jacket has no creases, folds, seam splits or any other noticeable similar defect. No cut-out holes, either. The same is true of any other inserts, such as posters, lyric sleeves, and the like. Basically, Near Mint looks as if you just got it home from a new record store and removed the shrink wrap.
Very Good Plus (VG+): Shows some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it. Record surfaces may show some slight signs of wear and may have slight scuffs or very light scratches that don't affect one's listening experience. Slight warps that do not affect the sound are OK. The label may have some ring wear or discoloration, but is should be barely noticeable. The center hole is not misshapen by repeated play. Picture sleeves and LP inner sleeves will have some slight wear, lightly turn-up corners, or a slight seam-split. An LP jacket may have slight signs of wear also and may be marred by a cut-out hole, indentation or corner indicating it was taken out of print and sold at a discount.
Very Good (VG): Many of the defects found in a VG+ record are more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface noise is evident upon playing, especially in soft passages and during the song's intro and fade, but will not overpower the music otherwise. Groove wear will start to be noticeable, as will light scratches (deep enough to feel with a fingernail) that will affect the sound. Labels may be marred by writing, or have tape or stickers (or their residue) attached. The same will be true of picture sleeves or LP covers. However, it will not have all of these problems at the same time, only two or three of them.
Good (G), Good Plus (G+): Good does not mean bad! A record in Good or Good Plus condition can be put onto a turntable and will play through without skipping. But it will have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear. A jacket or sleeve has seam splits, especially at the bottom or on the spine. Tape, writing, ring wear or other defects will start to overwhelm the object.
Poor (P), Fair (F): The record is cracked, badly warped, and won't play through without skipping or repeating. The picture sleeve is water damaged, split on all three seams and heavily marred by wear and/or writing. The LP jacket barely keeps the LP inside it. Inner sleeves are fully seam split, and written upon.
[+ and – denote in-between grades. Grades with a slash in between indicate the condition of Side A/Side B.]
Other grading codes (from VJM and other sources):
LIB = Library copy. These albums have been reassembled in library binding format: the jackets have been taped around the edges, and the records are in a separate inner sleeve. Records and printed inserts are placed inside a stiff plastic Gaylord record holder. Library stamps and markings have been applied.
LIB, NOC = Library copy as above but with no original cover; only the record remains in the plastic record holder.
aud = audible
bb = bb hole in cover
boot = bootleg
cc = cut corner
co = cut-out
coh = cut-out hole punched in cover or label
cr = crack
cvr = cover
DJ = DJ or promotional copy
eb = edge bite
ec = edge chip
ef = edge flake
ep = extended play
fade = faded label
gr = groove [10g = 10 grooves]
hc/hlc = hairline crack
inaud = inaudible
lbl = label
lc = lamination crack
ld = label damage
m = mono
nap = not affecting play
non-lp = not on full-length LP or CD
oc = original cast recording
ost = original soundtrack
po = punch out
promo = promotional copy
ps = picture sleeve (45s)
re (also ri) = reissue
rf = rough
rw = ring wear
s = stereo
sc = scratched cover
scfs = scuffs
scr = scratch
sfc = surface
sl = slight
slt wrp = slight warp
sm = saw mark (cut-out mark)
sm splt = seam split
soc = sticker on cover
sol = sticker on label
sr = slight ring wear on cover
ss = still sealed
t = tear on cover
toc = tape on cover
tol = tape on label
va = various artists
wlp = white label promo
woc = writing on cover
wol = writing on label
xoc = “X” written on cover
xol = “X” written on label

Records are visually graded by VJM CONDITION CODES per VJM’s Jazz & Blues Mart:
N (new) or M (mint): New and unplayed. NM or N- (near mint): Nearly same as N/M but played a few times. E+: plays like new, with very, very few signs of handling, such as tiny scuffs from being slipped in and out of jackets. E: excellent (still very shiny, near new looking with no visible signs of [groove] wear but with a few inaudible scuffs and scratches). E-: still shiny, but without the luster of a new record. Very little wear, plays distortion-free. V+ or VG+: An “average” looking 78 in which scuffs and general use has dulled finish somewhat. Wear is moderate but playing is generally free of distortion. Surface noise still not pronounced. V or VG: very good (moderate, even wear throughout but still very playable. Surface noise and scratches audible but not intrusive.) V- or VG- = quite playable; some distortion in louder passages but music remains loud in most places. Surface noise from wear and scratches well below music level. G+: gray throughout but still serviceable. Music begins to sound muffled. G (good): quite worn/damaged, but surface noise still below music level. Listenable. G-: Music muffled from wear but still exceeds surface noise. F+: most of record remains audible over surface noise but listening uncomfortable. F (fair): further deterioration but still generally audible. P (poor): unplayable.

VJM standard abbreviations: sfc = surface; lbl = label; nap = not affecting play; scr = scratch; lc = lamination crack; cr = crack; hc/hlc = hairline crack; wol = writing on label; sol = sticker on label; fade = faded label; gr = groove; eb = edge bite; ec = edge chip; ef = edge flake; cvr = cover; s = stereo; rf = rough; aud/inaud = audible/inaudible.

[e.g., 10gr eb = 10 groove edge bite]

[+ and – denote in-between grades. Grades with a slash in between indicate the condition of Side A/Side B.]

AS NEW (AN) or VERY FINE (VF): Without faults or defects, unread, in the same immaculate condition in which it was published
(Note: very few "new" books qualify for this grade, as many times there will be rubs/scuffs to the dustjackets from shipping, or bumped lower spine ends/corners from shelving).
FINE (F): Approaches the above, but not crisp. May show signs of having been carefully read, but no real defects or faults.
(NOTE: From here on, there may be "+" and "-" in a grade, which will mean that it is above the grade noted but not quite to the next higher grade for "+", and that it is below the grade noted but not quite to the next lower grade for "-".
NEAR FINE: Also used, although not contained in Bookman's Weekly definitions, meaning a book or dustjacket approaching FINE but with a couple of very minor defects or faults, which should be noted.
VERY GOOD: A used book showing some small signs of wear on either binding or dustjacket. Any defects/faults must be noted.
GOOD: The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.
FAIR: A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, dustjacket, etc. may also be worn. All defects/faults must be noted.
POOR or READING COPY: A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.
EX-LIBRARY: Must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.
BOOK CLUB: Must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book.
BINDING COPY: A book in which the text block, including illustrations, is complete but the binding is lacking, or in such poor condition it is beyond realistic restoration efforts.
REMAINDER MARKS, BOOKPLATES, PREVIOUS OWNER'S NAME: Should be noted unless you explain in your general information that you do not note such.
ODORS/SOILING : It is the bookseller's responsibility to either describe such conditions in book descriptions or rectify them before listing, if possible to do so without harm to a book or its dustjacket. If either cannot be rectified before listing a book online, then it should be mentioned in the description of the book. This also applies to dustjacket protectors and packing materials; buyers should not have to be responsible for trying to rectify odors or soiling not mentioned by a bookseller.

Always, if issued with one, the lack of a dustjacket or slipcase should be noted.


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