CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?

by $Rico$

CGC-9.8-300x157 CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?So early in my collecting days, I thought a graded 9.8 had to have white pages.  A graded 9.8 was pretty much the cream of the crop in collectibles.  No one really gets anything higher, so a 9.8 in most people’s eyes is what they want.  Don’t even think about getting a 9.9 or a gem mint 10.  As far as graded 9.8s are concerned, white pages rank at the top of the color scale.  You be the judge, do they really matter?

I never really noticed off-white to white pages and definitely never saw a graded 9.8 sample having off-white pages.  Go figure.  I used to think the higher premium goes to the graded 9.8 with white pages and any other page quality was a little bit of a discount for buyers.  Similar to the argument between CGC versus CBCS sale price differences.  I might have been wrong.  I am seeing graded 9.8s selling for premiums no matter what the page quality is nowadays.  Are buyers getting desperate?  

ASM316-off-white-300x113 CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?PAGE QUALITY 

Every collector of graded comics is familiar with the information label located at the top of each slabbed book.  The most important part is, of course, the grade, ranging from 0.5 to 10.  In addition to the grade, other details that could impact the value of the book such as spine tears, ripped pages, and color breaks are also noted from the serial number given.  Above the serial number assigned to each book is the page quality.  A book with pristine, bright pages ranks at the top of the color scale and is most desirable, especially for modern age books.  Other examples are off-white to white, off-white, a mix of tan and cream colors, and then at the bottom are the extreme cases of dark tan or brittle pages.  The most common type of page quality you will see are:

Scale-300x195-2 CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?

I realize page quality may not matter for some collectors on graded 9.8s, but for other collectors,’ white pages are the only thing they want.  To each their own. You decide.       

AMAZING SPIDERMAN #316 (1989)

This is one of those covers that any collector wants in their collection, especially Todd McFarlane fans.  Amazing Spiderman #316 features the 3rd appearance of Venom and is also the 1st full cover appearance of the symbiote baddie.  Pretty cool cover, if you ask me.  A graded CGC 9.8 copy with off-white/white pages sold on eBay last month for $470.  Believe it or not, a graded CGC 9.8 copy with similarly colored pages sold for $570 a week before that.  Go figure! Another graded CGC 9.8 copy with perfectly bight pages sold in the same month for $625.

ASM316-off-white_white-300x136 CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?

As you can see, there is a little bit of a disparity, especially between the off-white/white pages and white pages. Ironically, not as much when compared to off-white pages.  In many cases, I have seen other page qualities, though not perfect pages, sell for just as much as white pages.  It seems page quality on a graded book does not matter. It’s more about the actual grade.

WRAP UP

There you have it.  Please keep in mind this sample size is just one example so any conclusions must be made knowing that ASM316-white-300x149 CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?a bigger sample size involving hundreds, preferably thousands, of transactions could come to a more permanent conclusion.  Fortunately, numerous graded transactions are happening every day with varying page qualities and more sales examples will be shared in the next installment of this article.  Next time you’re wondering whether to pull the trigger on a book with off-white to white or off-white pages, bear in mind this evidence.  Bid knowing that the value of the book should not be materially impacted due to its less than white pages.  It is starting to be a non-factor amongst some collectors.  Either way, I wish you luck in your comic book collecting endeavor. Until next time you comic book junkies…  

Please share your thoughts about graded 9.8s and the page quality. Do you only collect 9.8s with perfectly bright pages? Does page quality matter? Or are you more concerned with the overall grade? Would you want a graded 9.8 that has off-Thumbnail CGC 9.8 PAGE QUALITY: DO WHITE PAGES REALLY MATTER?white to white pages? How about a graded 9.8 with off-white pages? Let the community know.  

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13 comments

Jas March 21, 2021 - 12:10 pm

Off the top of my head i don’t think amazing spiderman 316 hit the stands in 1984. It was closer to 1990 if i estimate correctly.

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$Rico$ March 23, 2021 - 9:31 am

Got it. Thanks.

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Richard Hammond March 21, 2021 - 12:48 pm

At one time I collected a shit load of stuff, but now I’m just collecting stuff I really like, such as Lady Death stuff, John Byrne, Mike Ploog, Michael Golden, Frank Frazerta, Barry Windsor Smith, Platt, key X-men, key Avengers, Wally Wood, and anything by Geiger.

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$Rico$ March 23, 2021 - 9:32 am

Very nice. Collect what you love for sure….

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Conrad March 21, 2021 - 1:14 pm

Speaking personally, there is a page quality range I’m willing to accept depending on the age of the book. I suspect many collectors feel the same. The potential premiums associated for a WP early Spider-Man for example will always be up for debate, but what won’t ever sway is my joy (and dare I say awe) coming across a book published 50+ years ago with said white pages. If someone isn’t willing to shell out a little more based off that rarity; then good. They shouldn’t. Coincidentally, my childhood newsstand copy of ASM 316 just came back from CGC with OW/W pages. It had been stored EXACTLY the same as the surrounding issues that all came back White Pagers only. Weird, right? I love it just the same. 👍🏽

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$Rico$ March 23, 2021 - 9:34 am

good point, the older age comic books ie. silver age and golden age it would be very hard to find a white page copy IMO ,, def weird on your ASM 316, whats more weirder is that ive seen ppl resubmit a ow/w page slab and it would come back white pages, go figure!

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octoberland March 21, 2021 - 2:42 pm

I know you are referencing specifically 9.8 books. I think you are right in that they often always have White pages. I think I have one that doesn’t, and if I find it I’ll share it. But page quality does matter to me when dropping below 9.8s. Maybe that’s obvious but I’ll elaborate (possibly needlessly)

Page quality matters IMHO. It’s another way to differentiate a stronger candidate at whatever grade you are looking. I would say anything CA or newer it is mandatory, but BA or older anything down to OW is fine due to scarcity. But that scarcity is where better pages condition comes in. Yes, they are in slabs so you’ll never get to truly appreciate how lovely they look, but it does let you know the book is and was in better condition. After all, there typically were environmental conditions leading to the discoloration. Lack of those conditions implies the book was better kept. Think of classic cars. You can buy the same car, but if the interior is showroom clean on one and the other has been sitting neglected, which one sells for more? Definitely not apples to apples, but to illustrate a point.

Since I’m already straying from your post, another important factor is centering. I went for a better 9.4 book years back than a comparably priced 9.6 because of white pages and centering. To me, once these live in a slab presentation is all you have. Centering is something you can see, and pages is something they display on the label. Combined, they make a strong candidate at grade.

All that said, I’m not normally put off a book based on those conditions. If it is a great deal and one I want, I’ll take having the book over not. But if I have options to weigh, as above, I do err on white pages with better centering.

And now, back to your original question on 9.8s White Pages. With newer books they should all be white IMHO. IF you found a book after 2000 without white pages in a weird way it might be worth getting since _that_ could be a unicorn 😉

Thank you for the write up!

– Craig Coffman

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$Rico$ March 23, 2021 - 9:41 am

Well said. the centering aspect of a graded comic book is definitely something on collectors minds, to include myself. truth be told, i wasn’t always like this, back in the day you were just happy to have an addition to your CGC PC family but as you get older (and wiser) you realize what example is a premium and what example is not IMO. the centering and overwrap are good topics for my next article maybe, ill keep you posted.

its just amazing now how i see ow/w pages go for a premium just like white pages – go figure!

Appreciate your comments. Please stay tuned for Part II of this article series due out April 5th where I look at another (interesting) example.

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Matt Kennedy March 21, 2021 - 2:46 pm

This is an excellent point and one of the best examples for why we need more grading companies in the hobby. CGC has a habit of playing favorites with certain vendors and for inconsistencies in grading overall. Since all CGC authorized graders are supposed to get the same training there should be a uniformity in grading, but we all have stories of getting a book back in 9.6 or even 9.4, cracking the slab and resubmitted and getting a 9.8 form a different grader – without additional pressing or cleaning of any kind.

Many of us have also taken CBCS graded books and resubmitted them for higher CGC grades. Even PGX books have a greater instance of actually being in the condition announced on their slabs and yet CGC had long been and continues to be the most desired brand of slab.

One of the factors that would be seen as a conflict of interest in almost any other industry is the secondary compensation of the CGC grading process. They are rewarded with a higher percentage of compensation for higher graded books. This is a massive conflict to be able to profit more depending on the grade you assign as it automatically inspires higher grades for greater personal gain. This business practice should be illegal. It should be a flat fee for grading services across the board.

As you say, how can a book be 9.8 if it doesn’t have white pages? It can’t. It’s a fake grade. It was done to inflate the cost of appraisal – plain and simple. Not all books are available in all grades and it is dangerous to allow issue-specifc exceptions since the system was put in place as a barometer for all comics of all eras.

I predict (and certainly hope) that individual shops and dealers will start offering their own grading as proprietarily branded slabs. Collectors will come to recognize some dealers as being particularly strict in the condition assessments givnling books in their branded slabs a higher appeal similarly to how we have Pedigree collections called out on CGV slabs. In such cases it may come to mean that these shops and dealers don’t offer grading as a service to the general public but stand by he condition assigned under their own brand, which I think most people would be fine with.

The CGC monopoly is bad for the hobby on so many more levels than those I’ve entertained here. And let’s not forget that comics still get damaged in slabs so collectors need to scrutinize slabs just as they would raw comics. A grade is accurate to the moment at which it was first assigned that grade and is still subject to damage from drops, prolonged exposure to humidity and other environmental factors.

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$Rico$ March 23, 2021 - 11:13 am

Wow! you brought up some good points I dont even know where to start. ive heard that gossip as well when you said “cgc is playing favorites with certain vendors” , i always wondered the same thing and it does make you wonder… there are vendors that submit in the 1000s compared to small time collectors who only submit <100 ,, you never know…. I never seen a off white page quality on a 9.8 until recently,, i was like wow,, ow/w on a 9.8 is kind of an eye sore for some collectors and i get it, i really do but does the market "get it" ,, time will tell…

thanks for commenting, def brought up some good points that i might bring up on my next installment of this article series , stay tuned. thanks.

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Jim Houston March 21, 2021 - 7:10 pm

I have registered my Batman collection with CGC.
As I upgrade I too thought White Pages would score higher registry points. But I bought an exact same condition Golden Age Batman 24 with White pages and the points awarded stayed the same as my Off White copy I had already registered. A CGC Rep told me the White Pages may have brought the overall grade higher but points are awarded by grade.

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$Rico$ March 23, 2021 - 9:35 am

Wow! I did not know that.. very interesting and thank you for sharing. I will try to include this in my Part II edition on page quality. I think this is a good point to bring up. Thx again.

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SFKeepay March 23, 2021 - 10:51 pm

My best friend has a collection from when he was a teenager in the mid-80’s. He worked at a pizza parlor and would swing by the comic shop in Santa Clara, CA, buy some books, read them once, bag and board them, and stash them away. Among his collection are the second print of TMNT #1, and the first runs for 2 – 4 (among others) all of which I had a look at. It was amazing …I had a crazy rush on seeing these beautiful, perfectly-preserved comics. BUT, that perfect preservation stopped with the covers. Some of the pages of all these books are various shades of off-white or light tan, at least partially a consequence, or so I’ve read, of the inexpensive paper used by the printer. I’ve even read that white pages found in first editions raises suspicions of counterfeiting. And I’ve seen many TMNTs over the years, but regardless of the condition of the cover, all had a range of off-white and tan pages. That’s not so say copies with as-new white pages don’t exist, of course. But I am not lucky enough to have come across any. Which makes me wonder, as I arrive, at length, to my point.

I have seen slabbed TMNT 1 – 4 copies that CGC states as have white pages. Examining detailed photos of these, I often see what looks to me as, actually, hints of off-white or tan along what little can be seen within the slabs.

All this raises many questions, at least for me. Can a book be a 9.8 with off-white pages? Well, by definition, sure, prima facia, since here they are, sayeth CGC. But even if we disapprove, can we really trust it when white pages are declared on the label? Should standards be adjusted for books like those early TMNTs with paper hell-bent on acid oxidation regardless of preservation, or should everyone (somehow) adhere to a single grading standard irrespective of age, the quality of materials, or (yes) whether little Timmy initialed every one of his 1,000 golden age keys in ink on the cover, but said collection was later declared a pedigree collection? And how much should it matter when we are, most of us, being herded by ALL the grading companies into investing into unreadable paperweights of transparent amber locking objects originally designed for amusement and imagination into a plastic crypt of moribund veneration?

We can’t, for the most part, for most people, ever actually see those pages, after all. We buy a sterile husk for display, like Lenin in his eternal box. Does it matter that the organs are gone?

Hypothetically, for my final ramble, if a comic like TMNT really had no white-paged examples left, or even scientifically, chemically possible, would that justify a carve out, saying that of these comics, this or that level of discoloration is the best now possible, and are, therefore, a 9.8? If so, why not a 9.9?

I almost hate to say it, but I have to come down (though I’m open to being convinced otherwise) on the side of a universal standard. Even if it would mean, for my example, that no 9.8 TMNTs (hypothetically) could exist, and no 9.0 Action Comics #1 for that matter, expectations would eventually fall in line.

Let’s call it what it is: corruption. The grading process, no doubt as a consequence of motives ranging from sheer greed to otherwise admirable egalitarianism, is unequal, biased, compromised – it is corrupt. It’s ultimately bad for readers, collectors, investors, even producers. And it’s a bad face to show the rest of the world. And it’s not CGC’s fault, anymore than CBCS or yours or mine. We’re enabling this, ultimately, because how many of us are actively trying to force reform?

My friend finally submitted a very small number of his books to CGC including those TMNTs. I hoped they would all come back 9.8s, and that’s just what happened. I love CGC for delivering that verdict not just on comics, but on the foresight and discipline of my friend, an outcast with a big heart who deserved some reward for his effort,

Which, of course, means I’m part of the problem too.

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