The Cigar Label Grading Scale
was introduced as an attempt to standardize the language used to
describe the condition of cigar label art. Since grading is an art,
not a science, it’s not a perfect system, but when the standards are
applied in good faith, it should be easier to have a meeting of the
Label Grading Pointers
from the image out. Are there any flaws in the image itself? While
grading the front of the label is of most significance, also check the back for paper thins, tears or glue marks. Any problems on the
back of a label should be considered when grading it.
if there is any significant after-factory trimming. Labels with good
margins are worth more to collectors than those that have been
eye appeal is one of the most important factors when evaluating a
no better way to learn about grading labels than to look at as many
labels as possible. Take note of each label's size and the
paper on which it's printed. Notice if the label has gilding or
embossing and if it has any major flaws.
Cigar Label Grading Scale
10 Gem Mint - No defects.
Must be a full-size label (no trimming at factory). Label is
fully sharp, fresh, original and vibrant. Perfect
9.5 Choice Mint - No signs of
handling or foxing or aging. Image is fresh and vibrant.
Label may have one or two small print imperfections which do not
detract from the beauty of the label (not at image's focal point).
- No signs of foxing or trimming. Image is clear and centered.
Label may have very subtle signs of handling or aging. (A label
with very subtle evidence of aging/yellowing, that is otherwise
fully fresh and mint, may qualify for this grade.) Can have several
small printing imperfections.
8 Near Mint
- Very minimal handling and slight to moderate aging or yellowing
within margin only. No tears.
- One or possibly more of the following (not affecting the image):
Slight soiling, slight foxing, light handling, minimal edge
slight aging, or yellowing. Note: a single ¼” margin tear without
other problems may still be graded “Excellent".
6 Very Fine
- Combination of the following: soiling (in margin only), light
foxing, margin creases, or slight edge wear. Only one of the
following problems affecting the image, but not at the image’s focal
point: slight soiling, foxing. Small nicks or a few very slight
tears at border of the label only.
- Some of the following: Soiling, foxing, creases, edge wear. The
problems affecting the image are limited to very light soiling or
foxing. Minor tears that do not reach image.
4 Very Good
- Several of the following: soiling, foxing, flaking or creases
that minimally affect image. Tears extend to edge of image only.
- Soiling, foxing, flaking, and creases throughout image but can
only have light to medium damage to the surface of the image.
(Cannot be trimmed into image). Tears into edge of the image only.
- Major problems. Image intact. Trimmed into image (90% of image
intact). Soiling, flaking, or foxing that diminishes the beauty
the image. Creases may extend into or across image. Tear (s) extend
into image. Majority of image intact.
- Major problems. Image damage or trimmed into image (holes, tears,
rips, heavy soiling or foxing, heavy color flaking).
Note: Overall eye appeal is one of the most important factors
when grading a label. It can add or subtract from the technical
Note: Damage on the reverse of the label such as tape, glue,
paper loss, or significant aging can lower the label one to two
PM - Photo-mechanical label
Unt - Untitled label *(An asterisk denotes a made up name)
FOR AN EXPLANATION OF LABEL SIZES