Grading

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 minds.    

Cigar Label Grading Pointers

1. Grade 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.  

2. Observe if there is any significant after-factory trimming. Labels with good margins are worth more to collectors than those that have been significantly trimmed. 

3. Overall eye appeal is one of the most important factors when evaluating a label.    

4. There’s 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 type of 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 registration.

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).

9 Mint - 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.

7 Excellent - One or possibly more of the following (not affecting the image):  Slight soiling, slight foxing, light handling, minimal edge wear, 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.

5 Fine - 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.

3 Good - 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.

2 Fair - Major problems.  Image intact.  Trimmed into image (90% of image intact).  Soiling, flaking, or foxing that diminishes the beauty of the image. Creases may extend into or across image.  Tear (s) extend into image. Majority of image intact.

1 Poor - 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 grade.


Note: Damage on the reverse of the label such as tape, glue, paper loss, or significant aging can lower the label one to two grades.



OTHER ABBREVIATIONS

PM - Photo-mechanical label
Unt - Untitled label *(An asterisk denotes a made up name)

*SEE "SIZES" FOR AN EXPLANATION OF LABEL SIZES

 

   
   

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