Goldmine Magazine Grading System

Kurze deutsche Zusammenfassung am Ende des Textes


 In Compiling this information the following people have participated with
vital information....

Susan Murray (NOD International Records)
Fred Walker (Vinylonly)
Paula Major (Paula's House of Music) doowoplvr@HUB.ofthe.NET (Paula),
...And of course myself
Tim Toms (Back-Trac Records)

Copyright 1996 by Weldon T. Toms (Tim)
 The following grades defined are derived from the system used by
Goldmine magazine. This is not to say that other grading systems
are not viable. The grades defined here are among the mainstream.
They are not to be confused with any other system. It is to be used
only as a reference but to keep in mind, that when grading, anyone
can choose alternative grading systems for records as long as they
can define the terms they 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?
Q1: What is the Goldmine Grading System ?

A1: The Goldmine Grading System was 1st created in the early years
of record collecting. These grades were established 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 is MINT and another
may say NM (Near Mint). After reading the next part of this answer,
perhaps you will be able to identify 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. It should 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 has nothing to do
with it. A MINT record from 1949 should look like a MINT record from 1996.
 The number one complaint from collectors about grading over the years,
have been the deteriorating standards that dealers 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).

*** Okay, but how can I honestly grade a record MINT??? ***
MINT COVERS: Simply put, a mint cover should appear to have never had a
record inside it. No wear to the corners or any mars on the face or back
of the cover. EP jackets (for 7 inch extended plays) and 45 single picture
sleeves also apply to this rule. The record inside can cause an impression
(a round 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, before
there is any ring wear. NOPE!! Mint means perfect and nothing else!

**NOTE: Anytime a person calls anything MINT, you should expect a perfect,
visually flawless item. We should actually use the term PERFECT, rather
than the term MINT. Probably no one would ever use this grade. PERFECT is
to say that man (who not perfect) can produce a perfect item. No way!
MINT is already abused in the open market and many people would be
disappointed when they find some flaw to cause it to be an overgrade.
My feelings are NOTHING is perfect and to call anything MINT, is purely

***2ND 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 "Featuring the hit song...etc.", were not applied to
all the commercial releases. Some earlier copies may not have the sticker
since the song in question had not even charted yet. It was to advertise the
whole LP and draw attention to the buyer. Some stickers are worth money! That
means they actually have value. Most companies applied the stickers to the
shrinkwrap and thus, one should save these items, but if applied to the
covers, NM is the best way to grade these covers. If you wish to place value
on the sticker (most are anywhere from 50 cents to $2.00) then do so but make
mention of the sticker being on the cover to potential buyers! Many people
want sticker free covers!

MINT VINYL:  This should be very simple to define (said with tongue in
cheek). A mint record should look perfect, as described earlier. Any defect
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 were ALL packaged by hand and the
simple placing of the record into a paper sleeve can caused minor scuffs.
Probably very insignificant, but they are flaws 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
unplayed. Unplayed records will always play better the 1st time unless.
of course there was a factory flaw. A sealed record cannot be inspected
for flaws in the vinyl's grooves, so it not wise to call a sealed record
 Sealed records have sold for more than the high end of price guides. If you
are selling sealed records, be advised that many collectors shy away from
them. A sight unseen record (through mail order) is hard to sell. A sealed
record is even harder to sell. If you sell a sealed record and the customer
finds flaws (such as paper scuffs or defected vinyl) you won't be able to
claim that the damage was caused by them, or that they swapped a good
pressing with a bad pressing. If you sell sealed records, you will have
problems with some people, so be alert to those claims of overgrading sealed
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 thing however many people have had used several confusing
grades all based around the Mint grade. We define NM and 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. As we mentioned above, no record truly will be perfect, cover or
 A very minor scuff and very little else can appear on the vinyl. This will
most likely have occurred during packaging, or removing the record from the
inner sleeve but had been handled with extreme care. It should play without
any noise over the flaw. The flaw should be very hard to see. If a scuff
covers more than a few tracks yet can be seen, it will not be NM, however
it may come very close. You should always strong judgment when evaluating
the vinyl's condition. Any blemish no matter how small, prevents records
from being MINT (Or our PERFECT grade).

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 a  Goldmine defined grade, however
it is becoming more and more mainstream among collectors and sellers. It is
also a very conservative grade for those who don't want to grade NM, for fear
they may overgrade the record and cover (buyers are every picky remember!).
In which case it is a very acceptable grade yet should not command the
highest price based on NM value. To put it simply, when collectable records
are concerned, there are only 2 collecting grades. NM being "Collectors
Condition" and everything less than NM is not. We are not saying EX records
won't have any value, they just should not be sold for the highest end of
book value. EX records will play just like NM or MINT, meaning no audible
noise will be heard during the play. They should sound as good or better than
they look. Many very rare (collectable) items can command very close 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

EX VINYL: An excellent (EX or VG++) condition for vinyl will allow minor
scuffs which are visible but only 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 there any break in the grooves that can be 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 this grade"! Only a few minor paper
scuffs and that's about it. The play should be as close to perfect as well!

EX COVER: Artwork should still be as close to perfect as can be. Some
impression to the cover (minor outer ring wear) but no ink wear! Some slight
creases to the corners, but not wrinkled and obtrusive to the eye. The
corners can show 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 to the EX grade but if you use the EX grade and price a
bit lower, your risk of overgrade 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 the EX grade. Goldmine defines it as Excellent (EX),
yet commands only 50% of the value (for most records). It can easily be
defined as 2 ways. VG+ should be the next grade below a NM value when grading
45 singles. EX can be used 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 (seldomly found) 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 they are of
rarities. This means you can allow a valuable item to be worth a bit more
than just calling it VG+. Perhaps the buyer will think a VG+ is EX and you
can under sell yourself. Use careful judgment when buying and selling them
with this grade!

VG+ VINYL: Now for LP's (the big ones ). VG+ will show wear, surface
scuffs, (or spiral scuffs that came from turn table platters or jukeboxes for
45 singles) and some very light scratches. Surface scuffs are caused from
blunt (not sharp) objects. Often the minor scuffs are caused from inner
sleeves. The vinyl should still have a great luster, but the flaws will be
noticeable to the naked eye. Sometimes holding the record up to a very bright
light, you will see many tiny lines across the surface. If the flaws don't
cause any surface noise, the vinyl can still make the VG+ grade. Most (but
not all) VG+ records should still play like a NM record. 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 with
extreme 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. Any obtrusive clicks or pops, which cause the song to be less
than enjoyable, may not even be VG+! Be cautious!
 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+". Remember the more conservative you
are about the visual and audio part of the grade, the better chance you will
not have complaints from those who buy from you. Be honest. If you were
buying that record, what grade would you say it was? There are many serious
collectors in this market and they won't hesitate to call your grading lousy
if you put a VG+ grade on a record that plays less than great.

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 eye soar, so be
weary of overgrading). 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 slightly dog eared yet no crackly bends,
defacing the artwork. In essence, a VG+ cover should have no more than 3
flaws mentioned. If all apply, it is less than VG+. (see next grade below)
VERY GOOD or VG: This grade has become the much lesser demanded item. A lot
of people feel that a VG record is a record that is good enough. They are
not really going to look very good, but they should STILL play very good.
there will almost always be some surface noise when they are played. The
Dynamics should still be excellent, overpowering the surface noise. A VG
record will appear well have been played but still have some luster. The
vinyl may be faded, slightly grayish, because of surface scuffs, which often
happens to records that are played and left out of jackets. Still they should
appears to have been handled as carefully as it could have been helped.
Records that get continuous playing time will always start to deteriorate.
Records that get less play are easily evident since they almost always look
as though they were played only a few times and then packed away for decades.
More and more surface scuffs and scratches, and audible sound defects WILL
be heard. They should not overpower the dynamics of the music. With VG
records, the surface noise will be minor crackle or a slight hiss, but should
only be heard in between tracks or in low musical passages.

 With Jazz and Classical recordings, the music can become very low to the
point where no music is even heard. If any crackle, tics, clicks or pops are
heard, these records will have very little value to a serious collector!
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
than perfect. Beware of overgrading these.
 They are difficult to grade and conservative grading is a must with them.
Also equally as important. Most dealers truly will not have a lot of time
playing every single LP they sell. It just is impossible. However when
records have questionable flaws, the record should be tested at least where
the flaw occurs in the playing surface. Visually noting the flaw may not be
good enough. If the record skips, you will have made a mistake and the value
would thus be much less. A Classical LP in VG condition often will only be
worth 10% of the NM book value. If they are even wanted.

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 the
artwork looks snowy all over, it is less than VG condition. There may be some
writing on the cover (still, no Large letters in magic marker). It will look
aged and more yellowish due to contamination's in the air (sometimes looking
like cigarette smoke). Still it should be decent. If damaged beyond any
formidable beauty, it will not make this grade. VG should at least still have
some 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
acid free, 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 little
as possible. If the split is minor, it is best to just leave it alone.
Note the flaw and go from there with the grade. Place the record in a
polyvinyl jacket and then behind the cover (outside of jacket but behind it).
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 is continuous or some hiss. Will also have some
loss of dynamics caused from grooves being worn. It should play without
any skips or any obtrusively loud pops or repeated clicks, caused by deep
scratches. If you can't enjoy the record, it is not no longer even good.
Good means that it will play with some form of decency, so one can still
enjoy the 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 will still sell well. Jazz and
Classical and easy listening in G condition are almost worthless to a
collector, since the musical passages often get very low and surface noise is
too distracting to the listener. Also check on 45 singles for the length of
time. Records that play longer than 3 minutes, may not be as dynamic and thus
any where will be heard more than 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 magic
marker writing on the cover but still if they are in huge letters, it is a
big turn off.In essence, the cover will looked virtually trashed, but some
artwork will still be noticed. If the artwork is worn, it is POOR and the
cover is worthless. Huge tears 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 you will save yourself from an overgrade.

***NOTE:Sealed records that have water damage should be opened.
Otherwise you will be in trouble later on when the cardboard
starts to deteriorate inside the shrinkwrap. Attempt to dry the
covers using 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 very good. Goldmine defines them as better
than Good, but less than Very Good. The value should not increase more than
the value of a Good record. Meaning they all should be priced somewhere
within the same guideline (most often it is 10 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 to
overpower the surface noise. Same for VG-, However VG- and G+ are of the same
value. It is more of a visually and audibly combined grade. There should be
no large price increase for these records. Price them like G records and you
should not have a problem.
FAIR and POOR:  The easiest way to define this is if does not meet the lowest
grade above (GOOD), it is trash. It is worthless. Unless it is so rare, it
won't sellable at all. It is OK to throw them away or give them to someone
who just wants to have them. It won't be playable for the most part, and so
they are not much good hanging onto them. Very few poor records are
collectable. Some rare colored vinyl or picture discs are OK, and can still
be nice to have, but they won't be good enough to play again.

  Many people will buy reissues of past oldies. The era in which the vinyl is
pressed makes a big difference to the way it will last and how it will sound
for years to come. Original 50's and early 60's used quality materials to
produce LP's. Smaller labels used less than great vinyl. A good pressing is
often identified by it's thickness. Also the depth of the grooves. These will
generally be better for the person who seeks quality originals. There is
still the question as to the use of styrene. These are more brittle and
damaged easily when played on poor equipment. Finding good playing styrene
can only be found by playing them. Some styrene will play better than others.
 Styrene was used in all decades (late 50's up to the late 80's). Recycled
vinyl was used in the mid 70's up to the late 80's as well. Poor vinyl meant
less playing time for these items. Finding them NM is a problem. Many issues
can be found, brand new, with hairline cracks and grayish discoloring. They
may play nice but are unless you find them flawless and play perfect, don't
overgrade them!
 Beware of imports from countries such as Taiwan and Korea. Although the
vinyl appears thick (almost too thick), the sound mastering and plate
mastering are inferior. They sound as bad as bootlegs, since they were massed
produced using less than superior technology. They also were placed in paper
sleeves that looked cheesy. Some may sound better than others, but beyond
that, they are not very collectable. They are more of a conversation piece
rather than a valid piece of sound recording. Collectors often just pick
them up for the novelty factor, not because they expect them to play good.
Quick rundown in abbreviated Grading System

EX or VG++
G (with minor exceptions to G+ and VG-)
F and P (Trash)

GRADES THAT DON'T EXISTS: Be weary of these grades!

M+    : They are trying to say the record is better than MINT!
       No such animal. If you see this grade, avoid the record
       like the plague. Mint is the highest grade anything can
       ever be. And 99 out of 100 times the record won't even
       be mint! Man is not perfect! So how can a man-made
       product be better than perfect? Answer: Impossible.

NM-   : Near Mint Minus. Just another way of trying to get
       top book value for a record that is less than NM.
       If a seller uses this grade, ask what it means (thoroughly)
       as opposed to the NM or M- grade. It's your dollar and
       if they are selling it as less than NM yet for top dollar,
       you may be out of luck trying to convince them that it
       was an overgrade on their part. If a record is slightly
       less than NM, then use EX or VG++.

EX+   : If you read the above the same rule holds true here.
       No such thing as EX+. It is just another confusing grade
       that does not have any defined level of agreement among
       collectors. People who use this grade don't want to lose
       money on there collectibles. By upping the grade, means
       upping the price. Just be fair. Use conservative grades
       When you grade a record, put yourself in the shoes of
       the potential buyer. Would you want to get a record with
       this grade and discovery some overlooked flaws?
       If you sell a record for big $$$ be prepared for criticism.
       People will examine the record with more than just a quick
       glance once they receive it. Overgrading will only make
       you look bad. And too many unhappy customers, means
       very few repeats (or perhaps no customers in the long run).

VG+++ : Come on, 2 plus marks are enough!  No such animal!

G++   : Ok so I use it once in a blue moon. But at least
       I describe the way the record plays, to a tee!
       The price does not go up. The grade is just a good
       selling point. Realistically though it does not exist.
       Use it seldomly if ever.

 Copyrighted 1996 by Weldon T. Toms
You have permission to download, transmit or post this to other WWW sites.
You may print for personal reference, but only if left in it's original
 No part can be changed without express written permission from W.T. Toms.

    Thank you

Kurze Zusammenfassung in Deutsch von Fedor Sigel

M (Mint):Neu, absoult keine Gebrauchsspuren sichtbar und hörbar.
NM (Near Mint):So gut wie neu, spielt einwandfrei.
VG+:zwischen NM und VG
VG (Very Good):Platte spielt leichtem Knistern und eventeull Knacken, springt aber nicht, sieht nicht mehr neu aus.
Cover hat leichte Abnutzungserscheinungen wie Einrisse (kleiner 1 cm) oder Preiskleberabriss.
G (Good):Platte sieht sehr abgenutzt aus, deutliches Rauschen oder Knackser sind hörbar, spielt aber ohne zu springen.
Cover ist deutlich abgenutzt.
F (Fair):ziemlich schlechter Zustand.
P (Poor):noch schlechterer Zustand, z.B. Cover nur noch zur Hälfte vorhanden.