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Did you know... that unlike other hobbies, there are no widely accepted grading services in movie paper collecting (Part I of II)

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Added: 09/01/2014

NOTE: This is part one of a two part article. Part II is located here.

In almost every collectible hobby (coins, stamps, comic books, baseball cards, etc) there are "grading services" which take valuable collectibles and encase them in some protective sleeve or slab, and also provide a grade of the exact condition that item is in. Whenever this has come to a hobby, the prices of the most highly graded items rise drastically, which makes the old-time collectors very unhappy, but which brings in a LOT of "investor types".

Why is this? Because grading services "level the playing field". Prior to their entry into a hobby, a collector needs to know how to distinguish fakes from real items, how to grade items accurately, how to detect restoration (and the amount of it), etc, etc. Once there are grading services, a novice knows EVERYTHING about that item that a long time collector does (well, not everything, see below!). But they know enough that they can instantly compete with longtime collectors, and what was often decades of hard-to-acquire knowledge is now mostly available to anyone.

Of course, there are downsides to this. One is that a "grade" is only as good as the skills of the person grading it (and their honestly). What one person grades a "9.2" might be a "9.4" to another person, and the price difference can be massive. I know that often people submit the same valuable item over and over, until they get a grade they are happy with. Whether that was the most accurate grade is clearly debatable!

There is also the issue of the ownership of the grading services. Sometimes major auctions or dealers own significant percentages of grading services, and this is almost never disclosed. Is there anyone who doubts that a place that owns a percentage of a grading service might well receive higher grades from that service than an average person would?

A few days ago, a comic book auctioned for over $3.2 million dollars. The auction stated that it was the highest graded example of that comic, and while one other example had received the same grade, the auctioned example was better for several reasons! Now if even the most expensive comic books in the world can be graded unfairly, what does this say about grading overall? And worse yet, the auction also did not mention that there is an ungraded example of this comic that everyone agrees will grade higher the day it is ever submitted. Shouldn't that have been disclosed? Now the winner of this auction DID know this, but what about the other bidders?

So while grading brings uniformity to a hobby, it surely is not solely positive. Should there be a widely accepted grading service for the movie poster hobby, and exactly how would that work? Come back next week for Part II of this article to learn my views on this subject, and in the meantime feel free to email us YOUR views!

See Also:
Did you know... that unlike other hobbies, there are no widely accepted grading services in movie paper collecting (Part II of II)
Did you know... that our condition grading system is different from that used by all other auctions?
Did you know... that you should not attempt to repair posters yourself?


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