-Pyramid graphic courtesy of Deano's Golden Collectibles.
We've used the Goldmine Grading Guide in grading the collection. If you're a collector, you're already familiar with the reference. Otherwise, take a couple of minutes to read through the remainder of this page.
Most of the catalog is graded VG or slightly higher.
To us that reflects an LP that's been played, but with care and attention. Neither the cover nor the vinyl are pristine, but the cover will be intact without substantial flaw and the vinyl will play without substantial hiss and without skips. Exceptions are noted for each offering.
Mint (M) - The fact of the matter is we won't grade an album mint unless it's still factory sealed. The problem here is how you ensure it's not a re-seal. If you want to buy a mint item from us, call and we'll discuss the best way to handle the transaction. Absolutely perfect in every way - certainly never played, possibly still even sealed. Should be used sparingly as a grade, if at all.
Near Mint (NM) - A nearly perfect record. The record should show no obvious signs of wear. An LP jacket should have no creases, folds, seam splits or any other noticeable similar defect. No cut-out holes either.
And of course, the same should be true for any other inserts, such as posters, lyric sleeves and the like. Basically, an LP in Near Mint condition looks as if you just got it home from a new record store and removed the shrink wrap.
Near mint is the highest price listed in all Goldmine price guides. Anything that exceeds this grade, in the opinion of both buyer and seller, is worth substantially more than the highest Goldmine book value.
Very Good + - Generally worth 50%of the NM value. A Very Good Plus record will show 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 and discoloration, but it should be barely noticeable. The center hole will not have been misshapen by repeated play. Picture sleeves and LP inner sleeves will have some slight wear, lightly turned up corners, or 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.
In general, if not for a couple of minor things wrong with it, this would be Near Mint. All but the most mint-crazy collectors will find a Very Good Plus record highly acceptable.
Good (G) Good Plus + (G+) - Generally worth 10-15% of the Near Mint value. Good does not mean bad. A record in Good or Good Plus condition can be put on a turntable and will play through without skipping. But it will have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear (on a styrene record the groove will start to turn white).
A jacket or sleeve will have seam splits, especially at the bottom or on the spine. Tape, writing or ring wear or other defects will start to overwhelm the object. If it's a common item, you'll probably find another copy in better shape eventually. Pass it up. But, if it's something you have been seeking for years, and the price is right, get it ... but keep looking for an upgrade.
Poor (P), Fair (F) - With the exception of albums that are rare or unique, you won't find fair or poor items for sale. Generally worth 0-5% of the Near Mint price. 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 writing. The LP jacket barely keeps the LP inside it. Inner sleeves are fully seam split, crinkled and written upon.
Except for impossibly rare records otherwise unattainable, records in this condition should be bought and sold for no more than a few cents each.
The Disc (Vinyl) and the Album Cover are graded separately.
DISC (VINYL) GRADESSS
Sealed at factory and never opened. Disc is assumed to be undamaged and mint, but this cannot be proven until the album is actually opened and the disc examined.
Perfection, no flaws, defects, marks or otherwise indications of being handled or played. Any scuffs, hairline scratches or other marks disqualify discs from this category. I do not use this grade, as even the act of inserting the disc or removing it from the paper sleeve may cause scuff marks on the vinyl.
NM or M- (NEAR MINT or MINT MINUS)
This is highest grade that I will assign to opened, handled records. The vinyl is virtually flawless, bright and shiny. A very minor, barely visible scuff or two may be permitted, but no scratches. The disc should play with no audible noise. The label is bright, clean and unmarked.
E or VG++ (EXCELLENT or VERY GOOD ++)
Disc plays near perfectly, but may have minor paper scuffs that do not interfere with the sound quality. There can possibly be a hairline scratch or two but nothing that is obvious or affects play. Vinyl is bright and shiny; label is clean and unmarked.
VG+ (VERY GOOD PLUS)
Some visible surface wear, very minor scratches and scuffs, but minimal impact on the sound quality. Vinyl will still have good luster; labels may have minor imperfections (small labels or initials, etc.) but otherwise clean.
VG (VERY GOOD)
Vinyl will have noticeable scratches or scuffs that cause minor surface noise, but do not overpower the music. There will be no skips. Vinyl may appear somewhat dull and grayish. Labels may have small tears, tape marks, larger writing, etc. but still easily legible. There may be wear or deformation of the spindle hole.
Well-played, dull, grayish vinyl with deeper scratches and wear causing distracting surface noise (hisses, pops, cracks and other nasties). The record will still play through without any skips. Labels may be significantly defaced or damaged.
F (FAIR) P (POOR)
Unless the record is particularly rare, I would not try to sell a record in this condition. There will be major noise, surface damage, deep scratches, and skips. Attempting to listen to these discs will be painful. These discs are basically trash unless a collector desires one to fill a space in a collection until a better one comes along.
ALBUM COVER GRADESSS
Album is still in the factory-applied shrink-wrapping.
Absolutely perfect; no corner dings, marks, tears, dents, impressions from the disc, or other flaws. Cover should appear as if a record has never been inside.
NM or M-(NEAR MINT or MINT MINUS)
Very minor signs of wear or cover impressions. Artwork is as close to perfection as possible.
E or VG++(EXCELLENT or VERY GOOD ++
)Minor disc impression or slight corner creases, no wrinkles, puckers, seam splits or writing on the cover. Artwork is clean and unworn and there is no ink wear.
VG+ (VERY GOOD PLUS)
Cover is clean but may have minor writing or marks and may show slight wear. There may be just the start of ring wear, where the disc has created a raised area on the cover that resulted in the ink wearing off the paper. There may be slight discoloration or staining, minor seam wear, but no splits or tears. Corners may have small creases or fraying.
VG (VERY GOOD)
Covers are worn and used. Seams may be starting to split or may have been unobtrusively repaired with clear tape. (I use special archival-quality, non-yellowing, clear tape for all repairs.) There is moderate ringwear, but the artwork is still attractive. There may be yellowing or discoloration and there may be larger writing, labels, or marks. Corners may have damage or creases and there may be scratches or gouges that otherwise damage the artwork.
(GOOD)Several (but not all of the following flaws will apply: Seam splits, large marker writing, major seam splits, significant ring wear, damaged corners, tears, cuts, gouges, masking or duct tape seam repairs, or other flaws and damage. Again, probably only useful to fill a collection niche until something better can be found.
F (FAIR) P (POOR)
Trash, useable only to keep the record off the floor.