Some confusion exists regarding the meaning of the various terms used by dealers and auctioneers to describe the condition of the cards they are selling; this article is offered in an attempt to clear away some of the confusion regarding the meaning of these terms.
The two basic definitions of condition are "MINT" and "USED" - a number of adjectives are usually used in conjunction with the two basic descriptive in an effort to describe the actual condition of the card. The most commonly used adjectives are:
The above terms are often used in catalogues etc. in abbreviated form e.g.
I have seen other descriptive adjectives in place of those above - for example the word "Superb" used in place of "Perfect", "Excellent" for "Fine" and "Poor" instead of the word "Good"; however; I believe that the words I have defined above are the most commonly used and most widely accepted amongst both collectors and dealers alike.
Purists tend to argue that the word "Mint" describes a perfect card only, and if a card is "Full" but in less than perfect condition, the card should be described as being "Unused" with the appropriate adjective attached.
Finally a word of caution - condition is a little like 'value' - it can lie very much in the eye of the beholder. It is best, by far , to examine a card carefully before buying or swapping, but remember the best judge of acceptable condition for your own collection is yourself.
Written by Michael Hartnett.
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